Issue #09. April 1998. Pp. 32-46.
«Seeing Aspects, Seeing Value»
Copyright (C) by SORITES and Joe Fearn
Seeing Aspects, Seeing Value
At the beginning of Ray Gaita's book Good & Evil An Absolute Conception there is this passage from Chaim Kaplan's Warsaw Diary:
A rabbi in Lodz was forced to spit on a Torah scroll that was in the Holy Ark. In fear of his life he complied and desecrated that which is holy to him and his people. After a short time he had no more saliva, his mouth was dry. To the Nazi's question, why did he stop spitting, the rabbi replied that his mouth was dry. Then the son of the `superior race' began to spit into the rabbi's mouth and the rabbi continued to spit on the Torah.
What are we to make of the claim by the non-realist that a witness could not have seen that what the Nazi did was wrong? The common-sense conviction that the wrongness of the act is no more unobservable than its cruelty and viciousness, stems not only from a less philosophically restricted use of the word see but from our intuition, and the feeling that, as Gaita puts it, morality goes deep with us, and what can go deep, is constrained by what can be deep.
David Hume's explanation of why we believe we can see the moral worth of an act, namely that what we experience is actually a projection of sentiment, has, until recently, largely been accepted. His main point is expressed in various ways.
Vice and virtue...may be compared to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which...are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind.
Hume is doubtful about what kind of entity could have a foot in each camp of an agent's mind and the external world. Hume's classic statement is well known and often quoted. Yet Hume's argument takes a resultant property (viciousness), asks you to look hard at the properties from which it here results, asks you if you discern another property like those, and then announces that because you do not, there is no such property as viciousness in the object. The whole argument is therefore an abuse of resultance.(52) Jonathan Dancy points out that the objection rests on Hume's argument directing our attention in the wrong direction and then insisting that since we did not see what we were looking for, there was nothing there to be seen in the first place. Dancy offers an illuminating mimicry:
Take any object allow'd to be a table: This one, for instance. Examine it in all its lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call its being a table. In which-ever way you take it, you find only certain shapes, sizes, textures, and colours of its component parts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. Its being a table entirely escapes you, so long as you consider the object. You can never find it, till you turn your reflection into your own breast, and find there a certain sentiment of respect-for-tableness, which arises in you, towards this object.
Despite such objections, Hume's projectivism has been influential in the development of meta-ethical theories of moral value as having a secondary existence, either having their source in our subjective nature for the non-realist, or reflecting reality as it is for the realist by being a disposition to elicit a response in us.(54) The fact and value gap segregates value to keep it pure and untainted. It is not derived from or mixed with empirical facts...with the increasing prestige of science, there has been a marginalisation of the ethical-Big world of facts, little peripheral area of value, Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics As a Guide To Morals p.25.
What I find disturbing about the non-realist projectivism(55) is expressed well by R.D.Laing. If there are no meanings, no values,...then man, as creator, must invent, conjure up meanings and values,...out of nothing. He is a magician. Yet surely our experience of growing up and maturing in a moral world is not that of a magician but an explorer, a discoverer.
We may agree with Hume that morality depends on feeling, and ask the non-realist to read again the passage from kaplan's Warsaw Diary and to reflect on how it feels to say I can't see it as wrong. Now I am well aware that in two worlds, one where value exists, while in the other it is absent, the inhabitants will go on taking their morality equally seriously. But my point is that it cheapens our understanding of our lives to say that morality is one thing, the meaning of things another. Essays on moral realities have tended to feature the realist as the defendant, when the boot should be firmly on the other foot. I am certain the non-realist feels revulsion as much as the realist when reading the passage from Kaplan's diary, but because of his scepticism, he takes carrion comfort(56) in projectivism and denies moral reality. I feel there should be a deeper integration of morality into a concern for the meaning of our lives than is usually acknowledged by modern philosophy. Perhaps this would be realised if there could be a way of recognising that moral value constitutes part of the furniture of the world in a way that would satisfy both the ontology (what kind of entity value is) and the epistemology,(the grounds to prove their presence) I should like now to offer such a model. What should be included in the intrinsic nature of a visual experience, and what provides the criterion for the possession by a visual experience of a certain intrinsic nature, lies at the heart of, and provides the motivation for, Wittgenstein's examination of noticing an aspect. Christopher Peacocke in Sense and Content draws a distinction between two kinds of intrinsic properties of visual experience: Representational and Sensational properties. In an aspect switch experience, Peacocke maintains that what happens is that the sensational properties of the experience stay the same, whilst at least some of the representational property changes. This prima facie seems to capture Wittgenstein's comment I see it has changed and yet not changed. This also serves my purpose for an account of what it is like to notice a moral aspect, so it is worth looking at the claim closely. This is what Malcolm Budd takes the claim to be in full. To start by stating something obvious; that normally, a visual experience represents the environment of the perceiver as being a certain way.
The representational content of a visual experience is the way the experience represents the world as being, and obviously can be given by a proposition and therefore is assessable as true or false. This is intrinsic to the experience itself: an experience with a different representational content is phenomenologically different. Representational properties are possessed by the visual experience in virtue of representational content. The sensational properties of a visual experience are possessed in virtue of some aspect it has -- other than its representational content-of what it is like to have the experience. Add up these properties and we get a full specification of what having the experience is like.
Accordingly, both representational and sensational properties are intrinsic properties of the experience. So it can be seen from this that there can be visual experiences whose intrinsic properties are not fully captured by representational content: if every visual experience possesses sensational properties (which surely must be correct) then Peacocke can justifiably claim that aspect switches are to be understood as alterations in the representational content of a visual experience whose sensational properties remain the same. Peacocke's example is of a cubical wire frame, where first one then the other face appears to be in front of the other. the representational contents of both the experiences are different; the experience is unchanged when first one then the other face is seen as nearer, because its sensational content remains the same. The representational content of the experiences is a variable component.
Now an important point to hold on to, is that this variable component of the representational content of the visual experiences is not something had by the perceiver in virtue of her possession of a concept under which she brings the object seen -- as when I am looking at a huge ship whose type I cannot remember, then suddenly recall it is a clipper ship, and thereby see it as a clipper. The change in the representational content of the experiences of the cubical wire framework is not merely a matter of different concepts informing an unchanging representational core. It is rather that the intrinsic nature of the representational component of our visual experience undergoes a change when we notice an aspect. The sensational properties remain the same. In the moral case, the represented moral properties are reported as good or bad, depending on the nature of the act the subject is contemplating. This means taking into account shape and salience, of noticing the pertinent features, of making sense of what is going on. The wrongness of an action would not be seen by a less virtuous person, because that salient feature, though represented, would fail to dawn. Two subjects could actually see the moral act differently. This is conclusively anti-interpretationist, The essential thing about seeing is that it is a state and such a state can suddenly change into another one. Wittgenstein goes on to remark that seeing an aspect is also a state, a state which has genuine duration; it can begin and end in a moment. Whether it is still going on can be checked. So here is a significant similarity between the uses of the word see in two contexts: seeing an aspect resembles seeing a colour with respect to duration.
My first intention in this paper was to link aspect-seeing, moral value perception and seeing colours, but it has become clear during my research that seeing an aspect should not be forced into a mould that it conforms to only in some respects. Seeing as can be taken as interpreting differently, and not so, like seeing, and yet not like. In Wittgenstein's words, It is seeing, insofar as, it is seeing only insofar as, (that seems to me to be the solution) Richard Norman has described seeing moral value as A metaphor of seeing(57) But while it may be true that if we model our concept of seeing upon the specific features of the perception of colour or shape, then there is a divergence; when we see something different, the optical picture changes, but with an aspect switch, there is no comparable change, this does not entail that it is incorrect to think of us seeing an aspect. We should not restrict the word see to colours and shapes, but extend see to cover cases where I can see the father's face in the son, see that cliff as dangerous, see a smile as faint, a posture as hesitant, see a look cast upon another, and many other phenomena.
Wittgenstein tells us that our normal way of expressing ourselves does not contain any theory, but only a concept of seeing. Richard Norman says that The insistence that something that falls under one of the many descriptions of what is seen is really visual is empty in itself and misleading if it implies a comparison with the status of colour or shape.(58) (The phenomenon of Seeing as, Wittgenstein emphasised, is like seeing, and again not like) and he tells us that there are Hugely many interrelated phenomena and possible concepts within the field of perception, and that the smooth transition from one concept to another creates difficulties in philosophy because It is hard to understand and to represent conceptual slopes The philosophical importance of the phenomenon of seeing an aspect derives from the fact that in the description of it the problems about the concept of seeing come to a head. For its irreducibility either to a purely sensory or purely intellectual paradigm make it especially suitable to promote recognition of the polymorphous character of the concept of seeing. What I have been striving for, is an account of the resemblances and differences between the concept of seeing something that falls under one of these descriptions, and other concepts of seeing -- concepts of seeing something that falls under a different kind of description and especially a description solely in terms of colour and shape. As McNaughton says, we need to develop a more generous theory of perception. As Wittgenstein has emphasised, it is seeing insofar as, it is seeing only insofar as. He tells us that a fearful face can be seen, but the fear in the face is noticed. We should not restrict the word see to shapes and colours but rightly extend it to cover cases where I can see the father's face in the son, where people can see the beauty of a sunset, i.e. see the beauty itself directly, as interwoven in my experience of the sunset. The insolence of Macenroe on the tennis court is no more unobservable than his groundstrokes. We must allow that I can see that one thing is further away than another, that that cliff is dangerous, that I can see a posture as hesitant, a person as worried, and an act as wrong. There are many occasions in which one is profoundly struck by the particular shade of consciousness manifest in someone's expression or behaviour; on such occasions, it is not just that we see that the person is fearful or joyful-we see the fear in his stance, the joy in her face. Similar experiences might be cited in relation to language as well as to facial expression or behaviour; for in certain contexts, we can experience the expressive meaning of a form of words, hear the emotion of an utterance(59)
The realist can also adopt a strategy of analogy between colours and moral properties. The difference is that whereas Mackie, following Locke, has it that perception of secondary qualities involves error in the projectivism, (We view a secondary quality in a way more appropriate for experiencing primary qualities. Like Hume, he thinks that we mistakenly objectify moral value) the realist identifies secondary qualities as Powers to produce various sensations in us as Locke also insisted(60) and therefore secondary quality experience presents itself as perceptual awareness of properties genuinely possessed by the object we are confronted with. So looking red is implausible as being intelligible independently of being red. so the realist can see no objection to taking the appearance of redness at face value. An object's being such as to look red is independent of its actually looking red to anyone on any particular occasion; so notwithstanding the conceptual connection between being red and being experienced as red, an experience of something as red can count as a case of being presented with a property that is there anyway -- there independently of the experience itself.(61) And there is no evident ground for accusing the appearance of being misleading. So the realist can refute Mackie's claim that a naïve perceptual consciousness takes secondary qualities for primary ones.
Secondary qualities to the realist are subjective in the sense that they are not adequately conceivable except in terms of certain subjective states. This contrasts with a primary quality which is objective in the sense that what it is for something to possess it can be adequately understood without the need of recourse to terms of dispositions to elicit subjective states. Now this is a contrast, but not one between veridical and illusory experience.
The realist can admit to a chain of properties that start at shape and colour, and extend (outwards?) to aesthetic properties and moral properties. Moral value has been proposed as an emergent property, and one which cannot outrun our discernment of it. (The View From Nowhere could not recognise it) While this may accord with our everyday experience, it seems to contradict the feeling that a real property of an object does not have to be perceived in order to exist. Similarly, the moral quality of an action does not depend on anyone's recognition of it. I shall go on to show how this can be achieved.
The analogy with colour makes it clear that our mode of perception does not create colours but allows us to see them. Similarly, moral properties, it has been argued, are real properties of objects which could be seen to have a secondary existence; perception independent, but not conception independent; something's being red has a necessary link with seeing red and something being wrong has a necessary link with someone being able to see it as wrong. The idea that what is real need not be independent of our peculiar way of conceiving the world comes from Kant, and was recently put forward by Thomas Nagel as a formulation for the acceptance of the manifest image(62) itself a rejection of austere scientific reductionism, which Iris Murdoch has pointed out as leading to the marginalisation of moral value, construing the world as composed of the hard, solid world of scientific facts, ethereal, nebulous, ghostly world of moral value. Constructing a model of moral properties as secondary properties means that moral value can be seen as a disposition genuinely possessed by the object to elicit a subjective response in us, so that metaphysically, moral properties are real but nevertheless subjective; they are dispositions in the world to produce experiences. This gives them an existence that is perception independent but not conception independent, in that moral value cannot outrun our discernment of it. Moral values on this model, do not have the highest degree of objectivity, they exist only in a secondary sense. I hope to endow moral value with a stronger realism later. Dancy has come to question the analogy with colour, pointing out that colour is strongly non-dispositional, i.e. the disposition seems to exist in the object due to it being that colour. The disposition exists in virtue of the fact that the object is coloured. Dancy has, however, kept the disposition in his explanation of moral realism; moral value exists as a disposition to elicit a merited response. Dancy inherits the idea of a merited response from McDowell, in the hope of capturing some of the normativity of morality, since a disposition to petition a merited response, is internally related to the will. Dancy points out that moral value is essentially for us and points to narrative structures in the world of shape and salience, and that noticing the pertinent features of what we are contemplating is a cognitive task. Moral value, Dancy says, merits directly and is thereby internally related to the will, and not an emergent quality, which he points out would still put something between us and our direct apprehension of the object under contemplation.
It seems to me that if the secondary property analogy is to hold, we have three options: A. Moral value is an emergent property. B. moral value is identical with the disposition. And C. The object possesses a disposition in virtue of it possessing moral value, a position which has the moral value as separate from the disposition. Position A has been criticised by Dancy on the grounds that is insufficiently realist, putting some other emergent thing between us and our direct apprehension of the world.(63) Position B seems to conflict with position C. A circular argument that firstly has moral value as the disposition, then separate from the disposition, in that the object has a disposition in virtue of its possession of moral value.
At any rate, Dancy appeals to a narrative conception of noticing shape and salience, i.e. moral value is essentially for us. He says The way in which the world exists for us when it exhibits value is a practical way. This amounts to a denial of extreme metaphysical realism about value, which accords well with Nagel's insistence that moral value cannot outrun our discernment of it. This account of moral value meriting directly, through an inclination of the will, means we can keep the internal relation of moral value and will, while abandoning the analogy with colour. For Dancy, moral value is in the world as a disposition which is internally related to the will, so it needs perceiving minds for its total (as I shall call it) existence, for otherwise, it will be only a disposition, awaiting perceiving minds for total realisation. Value is only possible with an inclination of the will. It is that the world cannot be fully separated from our peculiar way of conceptualising it. Moral value is thus directly meriting, it forms part of the narrative structures of the world, it is for us. Richard Norman has suggested we should abandon talk of what is real in favour of talking about what is objective.(64) He says The value of the secondary quality analogy is that it enables us to hold on to the idea of objectivity alongside ideas of anthropocentrism at a certain level. It is, I shall suggest, objectivity rather than realism that is the important issue. Questions about the real existence of moral properties tend to get stuck in circular arguments of talk about dispositions or dissolve on closer inspection. While I have great sympathy with this, sharing Wittgenstein's disdain for Empiricist investigation of every philosophical problem concerning what is real or not, I do think that I can successfully show how an acceptance of the manifest image can lead to a robust model of a direct and real existence of moral value.
Arguments about what is real and what is not totally real, tend to cluster around mind independence, or an object's ability to outrun our discernment of it, or how much the world can be pulled away from our peculiar way of conceiving it. I shall now offer an example of total mind independence for moral value. Let us imagine a tribe of people who do not recognise morality. They have a hierarchy, where the interests of the stronger members take precedent over the weaker ones. They are studied by an anthropologist. One day, a member of the tribe who is currently second in command, wrongly informs the leader who is showing the anthropologist around, that his son has been attacked by a lion. The leader goes off on a wild goose chase and the deceiver gets the undivided attention of the anthropologist, which was his intention all along. Although the tribe could not recognise it as such, the moral value could be said to exist in its own right, as a deceitful act. Attempts to show how this could be so in terms of dispositions, realness, etc. will centre on mind-independence. Now the non-realist could maintain that the sneaky tribesman is only guilty of deception, which carries with it no moral value, and that the reason for calling the behaviour deceitful is down to an interpretation of the deception as deceitful by the perceiving mind of the anthropologist, and that this is why morality is not applicable to the lion even if it had attacked the boy in our imaginary tale,(morality is not strictly applicable to animals; we do not morally censure a lion for the wilful killing of a wildebeest.) and to the tribe itself, because no value exists in the act to begin with; only when human minds are present does the deception get interpreted as deceit.
The realist however, can insist, using the disposition model, that the disposition exists to petition as deceit, and can only become so when perceived by human minds possessing the concept of deceit. Since animals possess no moral concepts, the attack by the lion carries no moral value, and in the case of the tribesmen, petition by the disposition has no chance of being recognised without perception by human minds, therefore moral value exits as the disposition, but depends on human conception; whether we construe it as emergent from the interaction between the affecting and the affected, or as identical with the disposition. Either way, moral value is still to be thought of as a real property of the world.
I think I can suggest a better explanation of how moral value can be totally mind-independent and part of the independent world, while relying on anthropocentricity for its proper fruition. Our tribe's deceit could be said to be there in the world awaiting recognition as an aspect. Only human beings, or beings who share a whole network of responses with us, could recognise it as deceit. The ability to recognise it as deceit is not available to an animal, nor even to an immature infant, only to people who possess the concept of what deceit is. It is in this way that moral value is a real property of the world that is perception-independent, but not conception-independent, in that it relies on our conception for its apprehension and meaningfulness. A benefit of accepting my model is that unlike the analogy with secondary properties, it explains how value can exist independently of perceiving minds, not as a disposition, but in its own right, because it is an aspect of the independent world. Like the duck and rabbit aspects, both are permanently in the picture, whether we see them or not -- it is just that minds are needed to grasp their concept. So moral value is best seen as an aspect of the manifest image, only being able to be grasped by beings who possess the proper concepts to see it as. Since animals and our imaginary tribe possess no moral concepts, in a world devoid of human minds that can recognise moral value, moral value could be in the world, as an aspect of the world, existing truly mind-independently, but would be like Wittgenstein's free-spinning flywheel image, unable to have any meaningfulness except for perceiving minds that possess the appropriate concepts.
I think that Dancy is saying something interesting in his insistence that moral value is narrative. I should like to adopt this idea in offering a model of moral value as an aspect genuinely possessed by an object, which relies, like the analogy with secondary properties, not on perception, but conception. The analogy with aspects gives us a quality which is genuinely possessed by an object, due to Wittgenstein's insistence that it is what a picture can have permanently in a picture. The extension of the word see to cover cases of moral aspect perception, means that no recourse to a mysterious moral intuition is needed. This reclaims the original meaning of the word perception as pertaining to the senses. We see aspects, not invent them, and we see the moral aspect, not a projection of sentiment. Only someone who knows what a rabbit is will see the rabbit aspect of the ambiguous figure, similarly, only someone in the possession of the right concepts will see the moral aspect. Adopting my model of moral realism also allows us a relation between moral value and the will.
We can have this relation between moral value and the will because seeing an aspect is subject to, or dependent on, the will.(One wants to ask of seeing an aspect: `is it seeing? Is it thinking? The aspect is subject to the will: this itself relates it to thinking Remarks On The Philosophy of Psychology Vol 2 page 544) But not always responsive to the will.(Last Writings On The Philosophy of Psychology. page 612) Because when we are seeing one aspect of an object and try to see it as something else, we may fail, and when trying to see an aspect permanently, it may change against our will. We can also change the aspect without being aware of any other act of volition which causes the change.(Last writings 451 & 488) and most importantly for noticing moral aspects, an object can possess a number of aspects, and if we are only seeing one of them, we can try to see another, and have an aspect brought to our attention.
I believe the experience of seeing as to be correctly ascribable to someone who has noticed the possibility of rediscription. This, I believe, involves noticing two aspects, one present and one absent. In a straightforward case of seeing, it is a case of describing one's experience as I can see that as wrong In a moral dilemma, there is the recognition of the possibility of redescription, where we might say It could also be... where both aspects are having an effect,(though not necessarily an equal effect, it would depend on the dilemmatic situation) both moral aspects are present, like the rabbit and the duck, and we feel pulled both ways, due to the moral situation being compulsively present to the will, and we feel concerned, because whatever we do, we may fail to meet an obligation. Aspect blindness, where an aspect fails to dawn, can explain moral disagreement, and moral blindness, and having aspects as permanently in the picture shows how an act can be objectively wrong whatever we think about it. An act can be wrong, and possess moral value, independently of whether anyone sees it or not. Aspect blindness can be remedied on occasion by someone who has noticed the aspect, and can point it out, bring our attention to it, as in Can't you see it as? or It can also be- Part of the point of the language of seeing, of vision, is to stress that coming to a moral conclusion is not a matter of applying rules, it is rather a matter of recognition. A recognition in which we see the force of moral requirements. i.e. Seeing the situation in a certain light as McDowell has put it. There has been much written, since David Hume, on the problem of getting an ought from an is. On my model, the recognition of the morally salient features of a particular situation will do the moral work; the rule Do not be deceitful means far more when adoption of the rule entails that we have recognised an act as deceitful. Moral value is thus for us. Unlike animals, we notice narrative structures in the world, we recognise patterns, shape and salience, and the notion of meaningfulness is useful here, because making sense of the world is a cognitive task. Noticing the pertinent features of an object, noticing that aspect of it that is in the object and petitioning a response, is only possible by someone who is in the possession of the right concepts, someone whose experience has given them their eye for the fittingness of things to use Aristotle's phrase. Those who do not possess such moral vision, such as the very young, can be helped with training, by parents or by attending school, just as attending music appreciation classes can allow us to develop an ear for the melodiousness of a piece of music. The right teaching can equip children with the beginnings of an eye for the fittingness of things.
Stephen Mulhall claims that the notion of aspect perception captures the basic nature of our relation to the world and that this is also what Heidegger was getting at in his conception of human existence as Being-in-the-world. Mulhall borrows from Heidegger the idea that our primary relation to objects is in their use, every object is a plan of action. His basic argument is that the fact that we can see an object as something else shows we must already see it in one particular way. Therefore in a sense, all seeing is seeing as, because of this constant aspect seeing.
Stephen Mulhall says the aspect blind person interprets what the picture might be intended to represent from a direct perception of its arrangement of colours and shapes, i.e. from its properties as a material object. Such a person's responses characterise such blindness as a general sort of attitude towards pictures -- a mode of treating them which reveals an orientation towards them as material objects rather than as representative symbols or meaningful objects.(65) Wittgenstein remarks that the aspect blind regard pictures as we do blueprints -- they cannot immediately see the pictured scene or object in the picture.
The phenomenon of aspect blindness has been illustrated by great writers; the central character of Nabokov's Lolita for example, or in this stanza from W. H. Auden's The Shield Of Achilles
A ragged urchin aimless and alone,
loited about that vacancy, a bird
flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone.
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
were axioms to him, who'd never heard
of any world where promises were kept,
or one could weep because another wept.
Auden's poem illustrates how an aspect can fail to dawn, because of the way the aspect blind cannot see the moral situation in a certain light, the aspect blind thus manifest an orientation towards human behaviour in which it is treated as behaviour rather than as human behaviour -- they do not treat it as behaviour expressive of mind.
Seeing the situation in a certain light seems to entail that when two observers see the same thing, they see that a,b,c, with respect to that object, but if only one observer sees that d,e,f, that person in some sense sees differently; he or she sees more than the other. Seeing more is concerned with having a richer conceptual pattern with respect to an object(66) We can agree with Iris Murdoch that The good man sees well, the virtuous man sees more, while the saint sees most of all. People require a disposition not just of applying standard labels or knowledge about things, but also the tendency to break the standard mould and seek a new way of seeing old things. People need also a creative and imaginative vision; to see things in a new light, where at first glance there seems to be no need for it. This is the stuff that discovery is made of. What the non-realist is saying seems to involve regarding the phenomenon of seeing-as as involving interpretation, as if we see a sunset as a brightly lit gaseous cloud of varying colour, and we infer from our direct perception of its shape, colour and movement that it is beautiful-rather like interpreting from a blueprint. It reminds me of an error in explanation for noticing a friendly glance; we hypothesize the psychological significance of an instance of behaviour from our immediate perception of its constituent elements, and infer from the shape, colour and movement that it must have been friendly(67) The error here is that one of the fundamental aims of Wittgenstein's examination of seeing aspects is to show that aspect dawning and seeing as are a matter of seeing rather than of interpretation.(68) For Wittgenstein, the notion of interpretation carries connotations of formulating defeasible hypotheses, of drawing conclusions. A crucial motivation for stressing the aptness of the concept of seeing in these contexts is precisely to underline the sense in which the friendliness of the glance is as directly, as immediately perceived as the colour of the eyes might be thought to be(69) The same goes for our direct perception of the beauty of the sunset, and the wrongness of an act of wilful murder. If someone were to ask me for a paradigm example of a petition from the world, I would answer look to the human face. Saying that we see a person's behaviour as expressive of mind is to say that we treat such behaviour in an appropriate way. Someone who needs to interpret the perceived physiognomy cannot intelligibly be said to have the attitude towards that behaviour (the capacity to treat it appropriately) which is grammatically bound up with calling the relation one of seeing.(70) The non-realist wants us to believe our relation to pictures where moral value is concerned, is like that of a blueprint, from which we interpret; we get a petition which elicits a subjective state in us, which is then projected back on to the object and gets taken for objective reality. But our experience of the world is not like that of interpreting a blueprint. We are in the world, of the world, the things of experience are ready-to-hand, they are there and we directly experience them.
Constructing a model for moral value as existing in the world as aspects, gives us room for saying that some moral aspects can be picked out by some people and missed by others, in that two observers can see a situation differently. We are human beings, and members of a moral community, yet human beings are male and female; an analogy with aspects can allow for a feminine morality, where a woman could see a moral situation differently than a man. A woman in a seeing situation, may, because of her situatedness, possess a degree of difference in her moral vision: an observer is not passive in seeing, but quite active. In trying to categorise, read, match up and organise the impression of what she is seeing to match up with her acquired repertoire of perception recipes (coined by Gilbert Ryle) labels and other knowledge about objects of the visible world, to put a reading on what she sees, may involve seeking a reading beyond the standard reading which is obvious and easily applied by men.
This has made me think about where successful seeing (in cases where we see correctly) ends, and imaginative conceptualizing begins, and if indeed there is such a line, what may constitute an illegitimate crossing of the line? Blake's ability to See a world in a grain of sand makes fine poetry, but poses problems for my conception of moral vision, i.e. when is it legitimate to say that what someone has seen in the moral situation does not fit the bill.?
These allusions (to distinguish them from illusions) are typically seeing a rock formation as a face, a cloud as a pig, an inkblot as a tree etc, in which we see a tree in the ink blot. These are visual situations which are suggestive but not deceptive. They are also not constant; the pig-cloud changes to a cow, then to a cat, we are not deceived by allusions, we believe the cloud looks like a cow, a pig, a cat. We have stepped beyond ordinary recognition. We have seen the object under contemplation as something that we believe it resembles, and yet know it is not. It is the firmness of belief and our active seeing which gives the appearance its different look. These are different cases in their essence from ordinary cases of seeing, and serve to emphasise the role that knowledge and belief play in seeing, for, in all the cases of seeing I have examined, by being deceptive, ambiguous, and suggestive, they show that seeing is not just a matter of light waves of a certain frequency hitting our retina from an object which we passively see, but is a complex phenomenon which is actively engaged in by us in the use we put our acquired knowledge to and the beliefs we form in a seeing situation. It is seeing insofar as, it is seeing only insofar as, and, like Wittgenstein, I should like to add, for me, this seems to be the solution.