Do We Visually Experience Objects’ Occluded Parts?

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):239-255 (2021)
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A number of philosophers have held that we visually experience objects’ occluded parts, such as the out-of-view exterior of a voluminous, opaque object. That idea is supposed to be what best explains the fact that we see objects as whole or complete despite having only a part of them in view at any given moment. Yet, the claim doesn’t express a phenomenological datum and the reasons for thinking we do experience objects’ occluded parts, I argue, aren’t compelling. Additionally, I anticipate and reply to attempts to salvage the idea by appeal to perceptual expectation and amodal completion. Lastly, I address potential concerns that the only way to capture the phenomenal character of perceiving voluminous objects is to say experience outstrips what’s in view, providing a description of such experience without any implication of that idea.



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Matt Bower
Texas State University

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Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
A sensorimotor account of vision and visual consciousness.J. Kevin O’Regan & Alva Noë - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):883-917.
Action in Perception by Alva Noë. [REVIEW]Alva Noë - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (5):259-272.
Varieties of presence.Alva Noë - 2012 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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