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Given, The

  In the arts, ‘the given’ (or as Henry James described it, the donnée) is the single seminal idea, the seed from which an entire work germinates. Tracing the creator\'s thought process back to this ‘given’ is a recognized critical technique in all the arts and for critics and consumers of the arts in general, tracing the thought process forwards from the ‘given’, treading in the creator\'s footsteps as it were, is one of the most satisfying ways to experience a created work.

In philosophy, ‘the given’ means the supposed raw data of experience, uncontaminated by theoretical interpretation or cognitive inferences.

The argument from illusion suggests that when we perceive objects in the external world, all we are ever directly aware of are sensory experiences as of objects and not the objects themselves. This leads to the problem of scepticism: if one is only ever directly aware of sensory experiences as of objects and not objects themselves, how can one know that the objects really are as they seem to be? One\'s beliefs about the external world go beyond one\'s immediate experience. So if one\'s beliefs about the external world are justified, they must be justified by inferences from the raw data of one\'s experience. One\'s beliefs about the external world have the status of hypotheses, and these hypotheses are justified by inferences from ‘the given’: the raw data of one\'s experience. AJ

See also illusion, argument from; scepticism.Further reading J. Dancy, An Introduction to Epistemology; , J. Ross, The Appeal to the Given.



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