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When we open our eyes, it seems to us that we are aware of ordinary objects and events such as tomatoes, elephants, and bouncing balls. Direct perception means that we are indeed aware of such environmental objects, without mediating representations or inference processes. Yet this appears to present a paradox, for we are not in physical contact with environmental objects, but only with the light that arrives at our receptors, the neural signals it elicits, or resulting sensory states. The problem of perception is how it is possible to be aware of environmental objects and events when we are only in immediate contact with such intervening states.

There are three general responses to the paradox. The phenomenalist concedes that we are only aware of sensory phenomena, ...

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