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1 Journal of Scottish Philosophy 135 (2003)


For Reid the perception of smell, taste, sound, temperature, texture, and color all proceed according to what has come to be known as ‘the Standard Schema’: the quality of the object impresses itself upon our bodies; this physical impression gives rise to a sensation; and this sensation, in turn, “suggests” the quality of the object, resulting thereby in a conception of the quality and a conviction in its existence. All interpreters of Reid agree in this. In fact, they also agree that the tactile perception of shape proceeds according to the Standard Schema. In “Reid on the Perception of Visible Figure”, I defend the unpopular view that for Reid the Standard Schema describes, also, the visual perception of perspectival shapes, what Reid calls “visible figures”. I claim that Reid takes visual sensations to suggest both color and figure, and so holds that visible figure is indeed suggested by a sensation, just like every other perceived quality. In their very interesting article (against my objections), Lorne Falkenstein and Giovanni Grandi defend the popular view according to which visible figures, for Reid, are suggested entirely by retinal impressions, without the aid of any sensation. I am not convinced by the moral they draw from their discussion. In what follows, I explain why I am not.

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