Several philosophers think there are important analogies between emotions and perceptual states. Furthermore, considerations about the rational assessibility of emotions have led philosophers—in some cases, the very same philosophers—to think that the content of emotions must be propositional content. If one finds it plausible that perceptual states have propositional contents, then there is no obvious tension between these views. However, this view of perception has recently been attacked by philosophers who hold that the content of perception is (...) object-like. I shall argue for a view about the content of emotions and perceptual states which will enable us to hold both that emotional content is analogous to perceptual content and that both emotions and perceptual states can have propositional contents. This will involve arguing for a pluralist view of perceptual content, on which perceptual states can have both contents which are proposition-like and contents which are object-like. I shall also address two significant objections to the claim that emotions can have proposition-like contents. Meeting one of these objections will involve taking on a further commitment: the pluralist account of perceptual content will have to be one on which the contents of perception can be non-conceptual. (shrink)
Perception is our key to the world. It plays at least three different roles in our lives. It justifies beliefs and provides us with knowledge of our environment. It brings about conscious mental states. It converts informational input, such as light and sound waves, into representations of invariant features in our environment. Corresponding to these three roles, there are at least three fundamental questions that have motivated the study of perception. How does perception justify beliefs and yield (...) knowledge of our environment? How does perception bring about conscious mental states? How does a perceptual system accomplish the feat of converting varying informational input into mental representations of invariant features in our environment? -/- This book presents a unified account of the phenomenological and epistemological role of perception that is informed by empirical research. So it develops an account of perception that provides an answer to the first two questions, while being sensitive to scientific accounts that address the third question. The key idea is that perception is constituted by employing perceptual capacities - for example the capacity to discriminate instances of red from instances of blue. Perceptual content, consciousness, and evidence are each analyzed in terms of this basic property of perception. Employing perceptual capacities constitutes phenomenal character as well as perceptual content. The primacy of employing perceptual capacities in perception over their derivative employment in hallucination and illusion grounds the epistemic force of perceptual experience. In this way, the book provides a unified account of perceptual content, consciousness, and evidence. (shrink)
Suppose you have recently gained a disposition for recognizing a high-level kind property, like the property of being a wren. Wrens might look different to you now. According to the Phenomenal Contrast Argument, such cases of perceptual learning show that the contents of perception can include high-level kind properties such as the property of being a wren. I detail an alternative explanation for the different look of the wren: a shift in one’s attentional pattern onto other low-level properties. (...) Philosophers have alluded to this alternative before, but I provide a comprehensive account of the view, show how my account significantly differs from past claims, and offer a novel argument for the view. Finally, I show that my account puts us in a position to provide a new objection to the Phenomenal Contrast Argument. (shrink)
This is a review of Athanassios Raftopoulos "Cognition and perception: How do psychology and neuroscience inform philosophy?" (MIT Press, 2009). Raftopoulos defends the modularity of vision, i.e. early vision not penetrable by other processes. He maintains that early vision forms and outputs a kind of nonconceptual content to subsequent stages of vision and cognition. The work is heavily informed by visual neuroscience and embedded in familiar debates about scientific realism. It is also an important contribution to the now-popular debates (...) about the cognitive penetration of perception. (shrink)
After presenting evidence about categorization behavior, this paper argues for the following theses: 1) that there is a border between perception and cognition; 2) that the border is to be characterized by perception being modular (and cognition not being so); 3) that perception outputs conceptualized representations, so views that posit that the output of perception is solely non-conceptual are false; and 4) that perceptual content consists of basic-level categories and not richer contents.
The nature of perception has long been a central question in philosophy. It is of crucial importance not just in the philosophy of mind, but also in epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of science. The essays in this 1992 volume not only offer fresh answers to some of the traditional problems of perception, but also examine the subject in light of contemporary research on mental content. A substantial introduction locates the essays within the recent history of the (...) subject, and demonstrates the links between them. The Contents of Experience brings together some prominent philosophers in the field, and offers a major statement on a problem central to current philosophical thinking. Notable contributors include Christopher Peacocke, Brian O'Shaughnessy and Michael Tye. (shrink)
Clearly we can perceive both objects, and various aspects or appearances of those objects. But how should that complexity of perceptual content be explained or analyzed? I argue that perceptual representations normally have a double or two level nested structure of content, so as to adequately incorporate information both about contextual aspects Y(X) of an object X, and about the object X itself. On this double content (DC) view, perceptual processing starts with aspectual data Y?(X?) as a higher level of (...) content, which data does not itself provide lower level X-related content, but only an aspectually encoded form of such data. Hence the relevant perceptual data Y?(X?) must be. (shrink)
0. Relativistic Content In standard semantics, propositional content, whether it be the content of utterances or mental states, has a truth-value relative only to a possible world. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is sitting now’ is true just in case Jim is sitting at the time of utterance in the actual world, and the content of my belief that Alice will give a talk tomorrow is true just in case Alice will give a talk on the (...) day following the occurrence of my belief state in the actual world. Let us call propositional content which has a truth-value relative only to a possible world ‘non-relativistic content’. Non-relativistic content can be treated as either structured or unstructured. On the unstructured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set of possible worlds and bears the truth-value true just in case the actual world is a member of that set. For example, the content of my utterance of ‘Jim is working now’ at time t is the set of worlds in which Jim is working at t, and this content is true just in case the actual world is among those worlds. On the structured-content view, non-relativistic content is a set or conglomeration of properties and/or objects, where properties are features which objects possess regardless of who considers or observes them and regardless of when they are being considered or observed. Such properties are said to be (or represent) functions from possible worlds to extensions. Relative to a possible world they determine a set of objects instantiating the property. For example, relative to the actual world the property of being human determines the set of actual humans. Not all content is non-relativistic. Let us say that propositional content is relativistic just in case it possesses a truth-value only relative to a centered world. A centered world is a possible world in which an individual and a time are marked, where the marked individual.. (shrink)
In the contemporary discussions concerning unconscious perception it is not uncommon to postulate that content and phenomenal character are ‘orthogonal’, i.e., there is no type of content which is essentially conscious, but instead, every representational content can be either conscious or not. Furthermore, this is not merely treated as a thesis justified by theoretical investigations, but as supported by empirical considerations concerning the actual functioning of the human cognition. In this paper, I address unconscious color perception and argue (...) for a negative thesis—that the main experimental paradigms used in studying unconscious color perception do not provide support for the position that conscious and unconscious color representations have the same type of content. More specifically, I claim that there is no significant support for the claim that unconscious vision categorically represents surface colors. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that at least some moral properties can be part of the contents of experience. I argue for this claim using a _contrast argument_, a type of argument commonly found in the literature on the philosophy of perception. I first appeal to psychological research on what I call emotionally empathetic dysfunctional individuals to establish a phenomenal contrast between EEDI s and normal individuals in some moral situations. I then argue that the best explanation for this (...) contrast, assuming non-skeptical moral realism, is that _badness_ is represented in the normal individual’s experience but not in the EEDI ’s experience. I consider and reject four alternative explanations of the contrast. (shrink)
I argue that Husserl’s notion of horizon and Searle’s notion of background offer a contextual model of perception that significantly reformulates the debate about the conceptual vs. nonconceptual content of perception. I illustrate the model by using a test case: the perception of an ancient Roman milestone—an example given by Husserl—which both Husserl and Searle consider to be a direct and immediate perception without inferences involved. I further differentiate Husserl’s and Searle’s views, arguing that Husserl’s model (...) has the advantage of accounting for the diachronic aspect of perception. (shrink)
There seems to be a large gulf between percepts and concepts. In particular, con- cepts seem to be capable of representing things that percepts cannot. We can conceive of things that would be impossible to perceive. (The converse may also seem true, but I will leave that to one side.) In one respect, this is trivially right. We can conceive of things that we cannot encounter, such as unicorns. We cannot literally perceive unicorns, even if we occasionally.
First published in 1945, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s monumental _Phénoménologie de la perception _signalled the arrival of a major new philosophical and intellectual voice in post-war Europe. Breaking with the prevailing picture of existentialism and phenomenology at the time, it has become one of the landmark works of twentieth-century thought. This new translation, the first for over fifty years, makes this classic work of philosophy available to a new generation of readers. _Phenomenology of Perception _stands in the great phenomenological tradition (...) of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre. Yet Merleau-Ponty’s contribution is decisive, as he brings this tradition and other philosophical predecessors, particularly Descartes and Kant, to confront a neglected dimension of our experience: the lived body and the phenomenal world. Charting a bold course between the reductionism of science on the one hand and "intellectualism" on the other, Merleau-Ponty argues that we should regard the body not as a mere biological or physical unit, but as the body which structures one’s situation and experience within the world. Merleau-Ponty enriches his classic work with engaging studies of famous cases in the history of psychology and neurology as well as phenomena that continue to draw our attention, such as phantom limb syndrome, synaesthesia, and hallucination. This new translation includes many helpful features such as the reintroduction of Merleau-Ponty’s discursive Table of Contents as subtitles into the body of the text, a comprehensive Translator’s Introduction to its main themes, essential notes explaining key terms of translation, an extensive Index, and an important updating of Merleau-Ponty’s references to now available English translations. Also included is a new foreword by Taylor Carman and an introduction to Merleau-Ponty_ _by Claude Lefort. Translated by Donald A. Landes. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss the intentionalist view of perception, and present some arguments to support the view that, contrary to Michael Martin’s criticism, intentionalists do not need to conceive the content of perception as either singular or general, because this is not the way that it should be thought. The right way to conceive the representational content of perception is by considering it as informational and functional.
Roderick Chisholm argued that ‘look’ can be used in three different ways: epistemically, comparatively and non-comparatively. Chisholm’s non-comparative sense of ‘look’ played an important role in Frank Jackson’s argument for the sense-datum theory. The question remains..
To what extent is the external world the way that it appears to us in perceptual experience? This perennial question in philosophy is no doubt ambiguous in many ways. For example, it might be taken as equivalent to the question of whether or not the external world is the way that it appears to be? This is a question about the epistemology of perception: Are our perceptual experiences by and large veridical representations of the external world? Alternatively, the question (...) might be taken as asking whether or not the external world is like its ways of appearing to us, where the expression “ways of appearing” is intended to pick out aspects of our perceptual experiences themselves. This is a metaphysical version of the question of the relationship between appearance and reality: What is the relationship between the phenomenal features that characterize perceptual experience, on the one hand, and the mind-independent features of the external objects of perception, on the other? There are some philosophers who might resist distinguishing between these two questions. For them, “ways of appearing” in the phenomenal sense just are the ways that things appear to be (let’s call the latter the “intentional sense” of “ways of appearing”).1 That is, the phenomenal character of an experience is nothing over and above its representational content. Phenomenal properties are represented properties—the properties that an experience attributes to the external objects of perception. The question of whether or not phenomenal properties can be identified with the represented properties of an experience mirrors traditional questions in the philosophy of perception. If they can be identified with each other, then in veridical perception we might be said to “directly grasp” features of the external world through perception. The properties that are present to the mind are the very same properties that belong to the external objects of perception. Such a view affords.... (shrink)
It is well known that Kant claims that causal judgments, including judgments about forces, must have an a priori basis. It is less well known that Kant claims that we can perceive the repulsive force of bodies through the sense of touch. Together, these claims present an interpretive puzzle, since they appear to commit Kant to both affirming and denying that we can have perceptions of force. My first aim is to show that both sides of the puzzle have deep (...) roots in Kant's philosophy. My second aim is to present three potential solutions to the puzzle and show that each faces problems. (shrink)
What do we see? We are visually conscious of colors and shapes, but are we also visually conscious of complex properties such as being John Malkovich? In this book, Susanna Siegel develops a framework for understanding the contents of visual experience, and argues that these contents involve all sorts of complex properties. Siegel starts by analyzing the notion of the contents of experience, and by arguing that theorists of all stripes should accept that experiences have contents. (...) She then introduces a method for discovering the contents of experience: the method of phenomenal contrast. This method relies only minimally on introspection, and allows rigorous support for claims about experience. She then applies the method to make the case that we are conscious of many kinds of properties, of all sorts of causal properties, and of many other complex properties. She goes on to use the method to help analyze difficult questions about our consciousness of objects and their role in the contents of experience, and to reconceptualize the distinction between perception and sensation. Siegel's results are important for many areas of philosophy, including the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. They are also important for the psychology and cognitive neuroscience of vision. (shrink)
The notion of perceptual content is commonly introduced in the analysis of perception. It stems from an analogy between perception and propositional attitudes. Both kinds of mental states, it is thought, have conditions of satisfaction. I try to show that on the most plausible account of perceptual content, it does not determine the conditions under which perceptual experience is veridical. Moreover, perceptual content must be bipolar, whereas perception as a mental state is not. This has profound consequences (...) for the epistemological view that perception is a source of knowledge. I sktech a two-level epistemology which is consistent with this view. I conclude that the analogy between perception and propositional attitudes, from which the notion of perceptual content is born, may be more misleading than it is usually thought. (shrink)
This book is about the interweaving between cognitive penetrability and the epistemic role of the two stages of perception, namely early and late vision, in justifying perceptual beliefs. It examines the impact of the epistemic role of perception in defining cognitive penetrability and the relation between the epistemic role of perceptual stages and the kinds of cognitive effects on perceptual processing. The book presents the argument that early vision is cognitively impenetrable because neither is it affected directly by (...) cognition, nor does cognition affect its epistemic role. It also argues that late vision, even though it is cognitively penetrated and, thus, affected by concepts, is still a perceptual state that does not involve any discursive inferences and does not belong to the space of reasons. Finally, an account is given as to how cognitive states with symbolic content could affect perceptual states with iconic, analog content, during late vision. (shrink)
Recent discussions in the philosophy of psychology have examined the use and legitimacy of such notions as “representation”, “content”, “computation”, and “inference” within a scientific psychology. While the resulting assessments have varied widely, ranging from outright rejection of some or all of these notions to full vindication of their use, there has been notable agreement on the considerations deemed relevant for making an assessment. The answer to the question of whether the notion of, say, representational content may be admitted into (...) a scientific psychology has often been made to hinge upon whether the notion can be squared with our “ordinary” or “folk” style of psychological explanation, with its alleged commitment to the idiom of beliefs and desires. In this article, I proceed the other way around, starting with experimental psychology itself and asking whether such notions as the above play a legitimate role within a particular area of contemporary theory, the psychology of perception. My conclusion will be that especially the first three have a legitimate place in theories of perception, albeit one that differs from that ascribed to them in a significant portion of the philosophical literature. Along the way I develop a notion of noncognitive functional analysis, which separates the notion of contentful perceptual processing and perceptual representation from cognitive or conceptual content. (This paper has been reprinted, with stylistic revisions, in Perception and Cognition, Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2009, pp. 50-87.). (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive account of the intentionality of perceptual experience. With special emphasis on vision Searle explains how the raw phenomenology of perception sets the content and the conditions of satisfaction of experience.
Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. The (...) claim is not, of course, that the child’s experience is ‘empty’; but that, unlike the scientist, it does not see the tube as a cathode ray tube. One way of supporting this claim is to say that one cannot see something as an F unless one has the concept F. Since the child plainly lacks the concept of a cathode ray tube, it cannot see it as a cathode ray tube. Although Perceptual Relativism is hard to believe, this supporting suggestion is not so implausible. After all, when we see (and more generally, perceive) the world, the world is presented to us in a particular way; so how can we see it as being that way unless we have some idea or conception of the way it is presented? We need not be committed to a representative theory of perception to think that perceptions in some sense represent the world. We can express this by saying that perceptions have content. Now it is a commonplace that the contents of beliefs and the other propositional attitudes involve concepts. The belief that this thing is a cathode ray tube involves, in some sense, the concept cathode ray tube. So the line of thought behind Perceptual Relativism may be expressed thus: seeing an F as an F is a state with content. (shrink)
Normal perception involves conscious experience of the world. What I call the Content View, (CV), attempts to account for this in terms of the representational content of perception (Brewer, 2011, esp. ch. 4). I offer a new argument here against this view. Ascription of personal level content, either conceptual or nonconceptual, depends on the idea that determinate predicational information is conveyed to the subject. This determinate predication depends upon the exercise of certain personal level capacities for categorization and (...) discrimination. Exercise of such personal level capacities depends in turn upon conscious selective attention. Yet conscious visual acquaintance with the world is the prior ground for the possibility of any such conscious selective attention. Acquaintance obtains throughout the visual field: where conscious attention is not actually directed as well as where it is. So acquaintance does not depend upon conscious selective attention. Thus, acquaintance is not sufficient for the exercise of the relevant personal level capacities. Exercise of these capacities is nevertheless necessary for personal level content. Therefore visual acquaintance cannot be understood in terms of perceptual content: basic conscious experience of the world is not a matter of anything like the predication involved in perceptual content. It is rather the relational ground for the possibility of such predication. (shrink)
The phenomenal character of perceptual experience involves the representation of colour, shape and motion. Does it also involve the representation of high-level categories? Is the recognition of a tomato as a tomato contained within perceptual phenomenality? Proponents of a conservative view of the reach of phenomenal content say ’No’, whereas those who take a liberal view of perceptual phenomenality say ’Yes’. I clarify the debate between conservatives and liberals, and argue in favour of the liberal view that high-level content can (...) directly inform the phenomenal character of perception. (shrink)
In Mind and World, John McDowell provided an influential account of how perceptual experience makes knowledge of the world possible. He recommended a view he called “conceptualism”, according to which concepts are intimately involved in perception and there is no non‐conceptual content. In response to criticisms of this view (especially those from Charles Travis), McDowell has more recently proposed a revised account that distinguishes between two kinds of representation: the passive non‐propositional contents of perceptual experience – what he (...) now calls “intuitional content” – and the propositional contents of judgment – what he now calls “discursive content.” In this paper, I criticize McDowell's account of intuitional content. I argue that he equivocates between two different notions of intuitional content. These views propose different, and incompatible, ways of understanding how a perceiver makes a judgment based on perceptual experience. This is because these two views result from an underlying indeterminacy as to what, if anything, McDowell now means by “conceptual” when he makes claims that intuitional content is conceptual. (shrink)
The article reveals the problems of listening comprehension in a foreign-language audience, in particular, by students who are non-native speakers. The theoretical part is a brief characteristic of listening as a type of speech activity: the content of the term, its internal components – the psychophysiological mechanisms involved, the difficulties associated with them. In the practical part the authors of the article demonstrate exercises from the purposefully developed lesson on the removal of difficulties in the perception of sounding speech (...) in non-native speakers children of middle school age, consisting in the systematic development of mechanisms of listening comprehension. Based on the analysis of the experimental lesson, solutions for systematic and consistent work in the classes within the additional remedial course in the Russian language in order to prevent errors and difficulties, as well as to facilitate the process of listening comprehension are proposed. (shrink)
Suppose our visual experiences immediately justify some of our beliefs about the external world — that is, justify them in a way that does not rely on our having independent reason to hold any background belief. A key question now arises: Which of our beliefs about the external world can be immediately justified by experiences? I address this question in epistemology by doing some philosophy of mind. In particular, I evaluate the following proposal: if your experience e immediately justifies you (...) in believing that p , then (i) e has the content that p , and (ii) e ’s having the content that p is fixed by what it is like to have e . I start by clarifying this proposal and surveying the case in its favour. I then argue against the proposal and develop an alternative. The discussion shows what role visual consciousness plays and does not play in the justification of perceptual beliefs. (shrink)