Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Basing Knowledge on Appearance

Avi Sion,  Ph. D.

First published, 2003. Expanded edition, 2005.


Phenomenology is the study of appearance as such. It is a branch of both Ontology and Epistemology, since appearing is being known.

By an ‘appearance’ is meant any existent which impinges on consciousness, anything cognized, irrespective of any judgment as to whether it be ‘real’ or ‘illusory.’ The evaluation of a particular appearance as a reality or an illusion is a complex process, involving inductive and deductive logical principles and activities. Opinion has to earn the status of strict knowledge.

Knowledge develops from appearances, which may be: (a) objects of perception, i.e. concrete phenomena in the physical or mental domains; (b) objects of intuition, i.e. one’s subjective self, cognitions, volitions and valuations (non-phenomenal concretes); and/or (c) objects of conception, i.e. simple or complex abstracts of preceding appearances. Abstraction relies on apprehensions of sameness and difference between appearances (including received or projected appearances, and projected negations of appearances). Coherence in knowledge (perceptual, intuitive and conceptual) is maintained by apprehensions of compatibility or incompatibility.

Words facilitate our construction of conceptual knowledge, thanks to their intentionality. The abstract concepts most words intend are common characters or behaviors of particulars (concrete material, mental or subjective experiences). Granting everything in the world is reducible to waves, ‘universals’ would be equalities or proportionalities in the measures of the features, motions and interrelations of particular waves. Such a theory of universals would elucidate sensation and memory.

In attempting to retrace the development of conceptual knowledge from experience, we may refer to certain major organizing principles. It is also important to keep track of the order of things in such development, interrelating specific concepts and specific experiences. By proposing a precise sequence of events, we avoid certain logical fallacies and are challenged to try and answer certain crucial questions in more detail.

Many more topics are discussed in the present collection of essays, including selfhood, adduction and other logical issues, the status of mathematical concepts and theology.

Buy it or read it online

All of Avi Sion’s published books can be purchased at (in paperback or kindle/.mobi form), and at (in hardcover, paperback or e-book/.epub form), as well as other online stores.

They can also be read online free of charge, chapter by chapter, at and, in '3D flipbook' format, at, as well as in Google Books and other Internet locations. They are also available in many university and public libraries.

Contents in brief

1.         What, Why and How
2.         Organizing Principles
3.         Experiences and Abstractions
4.         Conceptualization
5.         The Self
6.         Additional Topics
7.         The Active Role of Logic
8.         Epistemological Issues in Mathematics
9.         Theology Without Prejudice

Contents in detail

1.         What, Why and How
  1. Phenomenology
  2. Knowledge is Based On Appearance
  3. To Be Or Not To Be
  4. The Phenomenological Approach

2.         Organizing Principles
  1. The Order of Things
  2. Appearance and Other Large Concepts
  3. Material, Mental, Intuitive, Abstract
  4. Number, Space and Time
  5. Modality and Causality

3.         Experiences and Abstractions
  1. The Objects of Perception
  2. The Objects of Intuition
  3. Correlations Between Experiences
  4. Conceptual Objects
  5. Degrees of Interiority

4.         Conceptualization
  1. Sameness and Difference
  2. Compatibility or Incompatibility
  3. Words and Intentions
  4. A Theory of Universals
  5. Unity In Plurality

5.         The Self
  1. The Self
  2. Factors of the “Self”
  3. Identification-With
  4. Ideal and Practical Concepts
  5. Fallacious Criticisms of Selfhood
  6. What “Emptiness” Might Be

6.         Additional Topics
  1. Present Appearances
  2. The Concepts of Space and Time
  3. Apprehension of the Four Dimensions
  4. Contents of Thought Processes
  5. Universals and Potentiality
  6. Social vs. Personal Knowledge

7.         The Active Role of Logic
  1. Principles of Adduction
  2. Generalization is Justifiable
  3. Logical Attitudes
  4. Syllogism Adds to Knowledge
  5. There is a Formal Logic of Change
  6. Concept Formation
  7. Empty Classes
  8. Context
  9. Communication
8.         Epistemological Issues in Mathematics
  1. Mathematics and Logic
  2. Geometrical Concepts have an Experiential Basis
  3. Geometry is a Phenomenological Science
  4. On “New Arithmetical Entities”
  5. Imagining a Thoroughly Empirical Arithmetic

9.         Theology Without Prejudice
  1. Applying Logical Standards to Theology
  2. Conceiving the Divine Attributes
  3. Analyzing Omniscience and Omnipotence
  4. Harmonizing Justice and Mercy
  5. The Formlessness of God

  1. Using Meditation
  2. Feelings of Emptiness

  1. Existence, appearance, and reality
  2. Assumed material, mental and spiritual domains
  3. A classification of appearances
  4. Three types of continuity


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