chapter  2
20 Pages

Observation

There are two major steps in the argument. The first one is meant to show that we cannot give a genuine account of observation if we neglect the observer’s life. in this context, i take the term ‘life’ to refer not only to the background beliefs of the observer. That would make my thesis directly equivalent to one of the important claims in philosophy of science of the post-positivist period. with background beliefs, i would like to include also two other factors. Firstly, i’m taking life to include the various kinds of habits that give rise to these beliefs. secondly, i’m taking it to include also the particular actions of the observer that manifest these habits and that, in the long run, may enhance or impede the development of some of these habits. The sense of ‘life’ i’m using here, in fact, is not very different from the one wittgensteinians have in mind when they talk of ‘forms of life’. My proposal, then, is to show that observation is intimately linked to background beliefs, habits and actions of the observer. The second step of the overall argument in this chapter will be to explore how this impact of observation on the life of the observer may be expressed in terms of virtues and vices. i will divide the first step into three sections: one on qualities, one on perception and finally one on the extension of the power of our senses. The final section of the chapter will deal with the question of observation and the life of virtue.