The Terminology of Sense-Data

  • A. J. Ayer


In the reply to his critics which constitutes the third part of the volume entitled The Philosophy of G. E. Moore, Professor Moore has given the following explanation of his usage of the term ‘sense-datum’. Having taken as an example a situation in which a person ‘is seeing his right hand as well as something else’, he says that this person ‘must be having a direct visual field which contains at least two objects’,1 and he explains that he regards this as a case not merely of a de facto concomitance but of a logical entailment. He is assuming that ‘it is part of the very meaning of the assertion that a person is seeing his own right hand as well as something else that he has a direct visual field containing at least two objects’;2 and he refers to these objects, which are directly seen, as examples of what he means by sense-data. He explains further that the sense of the word ‘see’ in which constituents of the direct visual field may be said to be seen is the ‘visual variety’ of what he has elsewhere called ‘direct apprehension’, and that the objects of the other varieties of direct apprehension are also to be accounted sense-data according to his usage.


Physical Object Physical Entity Standard Usage Ordinary Usage Definite Number 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Ayer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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