I am working on my paper in English. It concerns the so-called problem of perception. The concept of the problem of perception is part of epistemological literature about perception; some argue that as long as we have illusions, hallucinations etc. our ordinary conception of perception is false. I am trying to show that the argument is incorrect itself. Since perception itself, as a phenomenon, does not 'suffer' from any such problem but, as I argue, the mentioned argument does, I think it would be useful to emphasize this in the title. This seems due for against the background of the 'infallibility' of perception itself the falsity of the argument will become more salient. So far I have had this version as a working one:

Is the "Problem of Perception" a Problem of Perception?

As I understand, article "the" supports there the meaning of a specific epistemological problem the reader is familiar with, and article "a" that of one problem of the possible many of perception itself. Yet am not sure that the articles actually support the meaning I would like to express by the title. So here is my question:

Does the above combination of articles, 'the' and 'a', respectively support the intended meaning?

  • 2
    Since "The Problem of Perception" (or "perception" itself) is an abstract concept, it can't really "have" a problem, so I can't see what possible alternative meanings you're trying to guard against. It might be a "catchy title", but just as on ELU (where you asked this before), it's a matter of opinion. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:14
  • Why do you use the word problem? Is it really a problem? Technically, anything is possible, however, will it be proper? Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:16
  • 1
    Are there other possible "problems"? If so, "a". If not, "the".
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 23:01
  • Using "problem" in this respect is not my invention; it is part of the epistemology of perception. It is argued that since we have illusions, hallucinations etc. perception cannot be what we ordinarily take it to be. Yes, perception as the phenomenon as well as the concept cannot have a 'problem', so by introducing that idea in the title I just aimed to emphasize that the problem of perception is due to erroneous ways of thinking about perception.
    – Giorgi
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 15:55
  • My question is not supposed to be considered on the matter of its theoretical soundness but with respect to its grammatical aspect. I clearly stated that the question is about the proper usage of articles--whether the articles support the intended meaning. The obvious answer here is either yes or no rather than the one 'it is a matter of opinion". Those who replied in the latter way just conflate the two aspects, confusion.
    – Giorgi
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 10:18

1 Answer 1


Yes it does, and it is a clever title. For total clarity you could insert 'itself', so the title would read, 'Is The Problem Of Perception Itself A Problem Of Perception?'. However this does remove some of the as snappiness.

  • 2
    Yes, although I think it is perfect the way it is. The short version has a focused cadence, and by not (over-)explaining in the title you are enticing the reader to learn more from the body of the paper.
    – Stew C
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:31
  • That is fair, @Stew C.
    – Ben Sewell
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 18:35

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