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Public Defence of Zhiwei Gu on Naive realism is not naïve

Monday, December 14, 2020, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
Zhiwei Gu
Naive realism is not naïve

Members of the Defense Committee:

Supervisor: Hanoch Ben-Yami (CEU)

Internal examiner: Tim Crane (CEU)

External examiner: Keith Allen (University of York)

Chair: Michael Griffin (CEU)


What is the problem of perception? Why naïve realism about perception has long been challenged or even depreciated? The problem of perception mainly has two aspects, the structure of perception and the sensory experience. The naïve realism which I defend claims that the subject perceives the object, its sensible qualities, the event it partakes in, etc. without any mental mediator. So structurally, perception does not involve any mental mediator, and phenomenologically, the perceived plays a role in explaining the sensory experience. In my dissertation, I discuss and answer three main challenges for naïve realism, namely the time-lag argument, the argument from illusion and the argument from hallucination. I show that all these arguments are unconvincing, and that naïve realism can answer each of them. I also show that the position these problematic arguments lead to—namely representationalism—has its own problems. My overall strategy is negative, which I think fits with the core ‘nature’ of naïve realism, namely that naïve realism is a commonsensical view about perception, our default view.