chapter  7
34 Pages

Induction, Perception and Consciousness

Opinions could differ about the prospects for this programme, and about what sort of claim to having attained knowledge it could ever-even in the best case-make. But such differences did not detract from an underlying agreement that questions about the absolute qualities of things could intelligibly be asked, and that a theoretical science-a science which put forward an inferred description of those absolute qualities, and defended it as an optimal explanation of their phenomenally known properties-was at least possible. Ideally, it should explain our initial, phenomenally relative picture of the world-our ‘manifest image’ of nature-within a perspective which transcended it by removing from it the elements of phenomenal relativity. This ‘scientific image’, if we could attain it, would coincide with the image which creatures with different sense modalities, starting therefore from a different manifest image, would also attain. It would present a picture of the world in terms of its absolute qualities, and of ourselves and of those other creatures as part of the world, which would explain why our manifest image was as it was, and why theirs was as it was. This was the scientific realist’s ideal: how far physical science could go in its inferences to such explanations remained to be seen in the progress of theoretical inquiry.1