John Foster presents a penetrating investigation into the question: what is it to perceive a physical object? Is perceptual contact with a physical object, he asks, something fundamental, or does it break down into further factors? If the latter, what are these factors, and how do they combine to secure the contact? For most of the book, Foster addressed these questions in the framework of a realist view of the physical world. But the arguments which thereby unfold - arguments which undermine direct realism and establish a version of the sense-datum theory - lead to the conclusion that we do no perceive physical objects at all. The only way to avoid this conclusion is by abandoning physical realism for a form of idealism, and this is the option which Foster finally embraces. The Nature of Perception makes an important contrbution to the ongoing debate: it sheds fresh light on the traditional issues, and breathes new life into positions which most current philosophers assume to be dead.
John Foster was Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Brasenose College, Oxford, from 1966 to 2009.