Perceptual experience and its contents

Journal Of Mind And Behavior 23 (4):375-392 (2002)
Abstract
The contents of perceptual experience, it has been argued, often include a characteristic “non-conceptual” component (Evans, 1982). Rejecting such views, McDowell (1994) claims that such contents are conceptual in every respect. It will be shown that this debate is compromised by the failure of both sides to mark a further, and crucial, distinction in cognitive space. This is the distinction between what is doubted here as mindful and mindless modes of perceiving: a distinction which cross-classifies the conceptual / non-conceptual divide. The goal of the paper is to show that there can be both mindful personal level perceptual experiences whose content cannot be considered conceptual — pace McDowell (1994)— and that there are mindless personal level perceptual experiences whose content cannot be considered —pace Evans (1982)— nonconceptual. The resulting picture yields a richer four dimensional carving of the space of perceptual experience, and provides a better framework in which to accommodate the many subtleties involved in our sensory confrontations with the world
Keywords Cognition  Content  Experience  Metaphysics  Perception
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