Enactivism and the “problem” of perceptual presence

Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):159-173 (2020)

Abstract

Alva Noë understands what he calls “perceptual presence” as the experience of whole, voluminous objects being ‘right there’, present for us in their entirety, even though not each and every part of them impinges directly on our senses at any given time. How is it possible that we perceptually experience voluminous objects as voluminous directly and apparently effortlessly, with no need of inferring their three-dimensionality from experience of the part of them that is directly stimulating our sense organs? For Noë, this is the ‘problem of perceptual presence’. In this paper, I integrate Noë’s view by articulating a different view of what perceptual presence at a more basic level amounts to. This new account of perceptual presence which, I believe, can clarify and make an enactive account of presence richer. The view I suggest revolves around the idea, developed especially by Merleau-Ponty and Kelly, that perceptual experience is in an important sense indeterminate. Indeterminacy, I argue, is key if we want to understand perceptual presence and the ‘problem’ Noë solves.

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Author Profiles

Alessandra Buccella
University of Pittsburgh
Alessandra Buccella
Chapman University

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