Originally published in 1970. This work evaluates the appeal to the sensually given which played an important role in epistemological discussions during the early 20th Century. While many contemporary philosophers regarded this appeal as a mistake, there were still some who defended the notion of the given and even made it the foundation of their views regarding perception. The author here points to several different views concerning the nature of the sensually given and argues that the issue between them is not empirical, as is naturally suggested by what he calls ‘the Naïve View’ of the dispute, but rather metaphysical, involving different theories regarding the relationship between Thought and Reality. This leads on to a discussion of the different views presently held regarding the task of the epistemologist, and to a new suggestion with regard to the relationship between common sense and the rival ontologies suggested by scientists and philosophers.
In the course of the argument a variety of different topics are discussed such as the correspondence and coherence theories of truth, the differences between scientific and philosophical theories, and the relevance of scientific treatments of the subject of perception to the treatment of this topic by philosophers.
Preface 1. The Given in Modern Philosophy 2. The Naïve View 3. The Given as Sense-Data 4. The Given as Objects 5. The Given as Immediate Experience 6. Problem or Pseudo-Problem 7. Making or Finding the Facts 8. Thought and Cognition 9. The Real Issue 10. Epistemology and the Scientific Study of Perception 11. Epistemology, Analytic Philosophy and Metaphysics 12. Common Sense and Rival Ontologies