Walking through the supermarket, I see the avocados. I know they are avocados. Similarly, if you see a pumpkin on my office desk, you can know it's a pumpkin from its looks. The phenomenology in such cases is that of “just seeing” that such and such is the case. This phenomenology might suggest that the knowledge gained is immediate. This essay argues, to the contrary, that in these target cases, the knowledge is mediate, depending as it does on one's knowledge of what the relevant kind of thing looks like. To make the case requires examining the nature of knowing what Fs look like. Is such knowledge to be understood as knowledge of a fact, or rather as a kind of ability? From the claim that the knowledge in the target cases is not immediate, and the fact that these cases are paradigm cases of immediate knowledge of objects' kinds, the essay concludes that perception does not afford us immediate knowledge concerning objects’ kinds.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| January 01 2017
Matthew McGrath; Knowing What Things Look Like. The Philosophical Review 1 January 2017; 126 (1): 1–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-3683602
Download citation file: