The Classical Empiricist Conception of the Content of Perceptual Experience
The majority of modern philosophers-that is, the majority of philosophers writing since the seventeenth century-have believed that in perception one is aware of some item other than the physical object one takes oneself to be perceiving. So if I see a tree, for example, what I am really or directly aware of is something which can roughly be thought of as a tree-image, in or before my mind, rather than a mindindependent physical tree in external physical space. The ideas of Locke and Berkeley, Hume’s impressions and the qualia, sensa and sense-data of twentieth-century philosophers are all generally supposed to be of this type. On the other hand, the majority of strictly contemporary philosophers-that is, the majority of philosophers active in the analytic tradition since the Second World War-have denied that one need postulate such entities and affirm that we are, normally, directly aware of the external world itself.