The ontology of perception: Bipolarity and content

Erkenntnis 48 (2):153-69 (1998)
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 (capable of being correct and capable of being incorrect), whereas perception as a mental state is not (if it is veridical, it is essentially so). 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
Keywords Content  Knowledge  Metaphysics  Perception  Propositional Attitudes
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DOI 10.1023/A:1005340005731
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