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The Perception Of Causality (Part 1)

The Perception of Causality (Part 1)

By David Kelley

Our knowledge of the world, and our ability to act in it, depends on our grasp of causal relationships among things—the ways they act and interact. How do we identify cause and effect? Where does such knowledge begin? David Kelley discusses the issues of whether and how we can perceive causality, drawing on the theory of perception in his book The Evidence of the Senses. He also addresses recent and related work by other Objectivists. (This presentation was filmed at the 2011 Free Minds conference in Anaheim, California.)

Watch Part 2 of "The Perception of Causality" >

The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception by David Kelley
In this highly original defense of realism, David Kelley argues that perception is the discrimination of objects as entities, that the awareness of these objects is direct, and that perception is a reliable foundation for empirical knowledge. His argument relies on the basic principle of the "primacy of existence," in opposition to Cartesian representationalism and Kantian idealism.


David Kelley earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1975, and later taught cognitive science and philosophy at Vassar College and Brandeis University. His articles on social issues and public policy have appeared in Harper's, The Sciences, Reason, Harvard Business Review, The Freeman, and elsewhere. His books include  Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence; The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand; The Evidence of the Senses; and The Art of Reasoning, one of the most widely used logic textbooks in the country. Kelley is founder and chief intellectual officer of The Atlas Society.