I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I often have the impression that philosophers have traditionally regarded the means of knowledge as some kind of obstacle to getting at ‘reality in itself’, as if the aim of scientific inquiry should be to somehow strip away the interferences of our own minds, bodies, perceptual capacities, language, etc., in order to unveil the world ‘in itself’, free of all ‘anthropomorphic colouring’. Whenever in my life I have occasionally found time to give myself over to speculative musings (and I’m not sure if it’s been too often, or not nearly enough!), I have often been tempted by a different idea, only then to drop it again as scientifically suspect, if not straightforwardly mythical or mystical. However, I’ve often wanted to put it to a professional philosopher to see what he or she would make of it. I’m sure it’s not at all original, and perhaps you can tell me which historical philosophers have held a similar view, but I’m mainly interested in whether or not anyone would regard it (or something like it) as philosophical respectable nowadays, and what that would mean.
Basically, the idea would be that, instead of regarding the manifest, phenomenal world which we all experience as a lesser reality (as, e.g. ‘mere appearance’, ‘mere phenomena’ etc.), as a kind of subjective shadow-world in comparison with the objective reality of the world ‘in itself’ (say, the colourless, odourless, silent world as described by physics), instead we reverse things and say that things attain their fullest degree of reality when they come to disclose themselves, with all their manifest properties, to human beings (or otherly-minded creatures). In other words, instead of setting up the external world ‘in itself’ as the (more or less unobtainable) goal of perception and knowledge, why should we not view the manifest world of colour and light and tone and fragrance as itself a kind of goal on the part of nature, and our perceptual abilities, senses, language etc. as in some sense a means of bringing it to realization?
Like I say, I’m sure that such a view would be disregarded by most scientists and philosophers as being naively ‘anthropocentric’ and ‘teleological’ and thus as mythological at best, but I can’t help finding something compelling about it, and I wonder on what grounds one can really claim that this picture is any less arbitrary than the more conventional one. Why, for example, should we regard sensation, language, knowledge, art etc. as means of more of less accurately representing or copying a self-complete ‘reality in itself’ rather than as a means of disclosing it or of bringing it to realization in some sense? My suspicion is that philosophers nowadays would regard these sorts of ideas as belonging to an obsolete ‘Idealism’ or ‘Romanticism’, and perhaps it’s even the case that philosophers just don’t address such large ‘metaphysical’ matters nowadays (limiting themselves to ‘conceptual analysis’ and such), but I’d be very grateful for any responses.