UJAH: Unizik Journal of Arts and Humanities

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A hermeneutic approach to the problem of illusion in sense perception

Uche S. Odozor, Emmanuel O. Akintona


This paper is a hermeneutic exposition of the problem of illusion in sense perception, using the methods of critical and content analysis as tool of engagement. For decades, post-modern epistemology was steeped in the murky waters of the brilliant, sceptic argument from illusion, according to which the senses could not be relied upon for knowledge of the external world of reality, due to problems believed to be inherent in sensory perception. Why was the argument from illusion so important to epistemologists as to elicit enormous interest for such a long time? What are the implications of the argument for science? Did the argument from illusion portend any real danger for the foundations of empirical knowledge claims, as supposed by many frontline epistemologists? Exploring the concept and science of perceptual illusion, and the implications of the argument from illusion for science and epistemology, the paper found that the argument failed as a refutation of direct realism because it views illusion as the norm rather than an exception, and portrays human knowing process as an automatic, rather than a procedural, gradual phenomenon.

Keywords: Argument from Illusion, Empiricism, Epistemology, Science, Scepticism

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