Raum and ‘Room’: Comments on Anton Marty on Space Perception

In Giuliano Bacigalupo & Hélène Leblanc (eds.), Anton Marty and Contemporary Philosophy. Palgrave. pp. 121-152 (2019)
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I consider the first part of Marty’s Raum und Zeit, which treats of both the nature of space and spatial perception. I begin by sketching two charges that Marty raises against Kantian and Brentanian conceptions of space (and spatial perception) respectively, before detailing what I take to be a characteristically Martyan picture of space perception, though set against the backdrop of contemporary philosophy of perception. Marty has it that spatial relations are non-real but existent, causally inert relations that are grounded in space, which is itself non-real but existent. Objects do not inhere in space in the way properties inhere in substances. Rather, there is a ‘non-real’ relation of ‘fulfillment’ (Erfüllung) that holds between objects and places in space, which itself subsists. I consider whether any contemporary philosophy of perception is equipped to make sense of Martyan space perception and I suggest that the most promising conception is Naïve Realism. I then outline a difficulty for this theoretical translation. Naïve Realism is a direct theory of perception whereby S is said to perceive O just in case S stands in a psychological relation of acquaintance with O, where this relation is both non-representational and explanatorily primitive. For Marty however, all relations are non-real and, insofar as they are grounded, are neither fundamental, nor brute or primitive in an explanatory sense. I close by detailing what I thereby take a distinctively Martyan form of Naïve Realism to involve. The central theoretical tenet that phenomenal character is fundamentally constituted by worldly objects is preserved; but the manifestly relational structure of the acquaintance relation, construed in particular as a relation of awareness, is treated as derivative. I make headway in spelling out the latter claim by bringing Marty into fleeting conversation with another Thomist - G.E.M. Anscombe.
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