In Rationalwiki's alarmingly childish and abusive hit piece on Objectivism, they say this about Objectivism's theory of perception:
"Rand's notion that we can observe reality directly (known in philosophy as direct or naïve realism) is refuted by the current consensus in neuroscience, psychology, and the cognitive sciences (which accepts various forms of indirect or representative realism). In the cognitive sciences, raw input is called "bottom-up perception" and the way the brain interprets this input is called "top-down perception." The visual, auditory, etc. cortices essentially "reconstruct" the input from their respective sense organs, meaning there is always some element of top-down interpretation of raw stimuli. Thus, we do not experience reality directly but in some sense a perceptual facsimile of reality constructed by the brain. A simple example of this is the fact that the image formed on your eye's retina is upside-down, but the visual cortex flips it right-side up. There are numerous other examples as well, including hallucinations and cognitive illusions."
This is pretty alarming that they claim direct realism is refuted my neuroscience, psychology, and the cognitive sciences. Is this true, and how would you answer this attack on Objectivism's theory of perception. Is Objectivsm direct realism, or would it be more appropriate to label it something else?
Alas, how refreshing it would be if critics of Objectivism were to actually know what they are talking about.
Yes, Objectivism holds that we are perceptually aware of things in the world. We are certainly not Representationalists—but it is poor thinking to thereby assume Objectivists must hold to the errors of naive realism.
As Dr. Leonard Peikoff explains in his wonderful book, Objectivism:
I recommend reading that chapter, where Peikoff explains that in distinguishing the object of perception from the form of perception, we can avoid the classic pitfalls that have plagued the study of perception. This is why Objectivists, far from dreading some critic bringing up perceptual oddities and illusions and other issues that trouble naive realists, will instead seize upon such phenomena as further illustrating the absolute validity of the senses.
And as to these critics thinking that our brains processing sensory data somehow invalidates our awareness of things, an Objectivist will only see another manifestation of the "mirror" theory of mind which Objectivism (rightly) rejects as confused. Indeed, we find Rand explaining how such processing is not merely unproblematic, but downright necessary in her short monograph, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology:
Finally, for a thorough yet accessible tour of these competing takes on minds and perception with a rigorous presentation of the Objectivist understanding, you can read Dr. David Kelley's excellent book The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception online in full, for free.