Levels of perceptual content

Philsophical Studies 100 (3):237-54 (2000)
My main thesis is this paper is that, although Dretske's distinction between simple perception and cognitive perception constitutes an important milestone in contemporary theorizing on perception, it remains too coarse to account for a number of phenomena that do not seem to fall squarely on either side of the divide. I argue that what is needed in order to give a more accurate account of perceptual phenomena is not a twofold distinction of the kind advocated by Dretske but a threefold distinction allowing for an intermediate level of perceptual content that is structured and yet non-conceptual. In the first section, I discuss Dretske's distinction between sensory perception and cognitive perception as well as a number of attendant notions. In section 2, two sets of phenomena that seem neither to constitute instances of sensory perception nor instances of cognitive perception as defined by Dretske are presented. I argue that they are evidence in favor of the existence of an intermediate level of perception. In section 3, I defend the view that this intermediate level of content is a level of structured non-conceptual perceptual content and I attempt to provide criteria for distinguishing among the three levels of content.
Keywords Concept  Content  Metaphysics  Perception  Salience  Dretske, F
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DOI 10.1023/A:1018624608680
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