Like their contemporary counterparts, early modern philosophers find themselves in a predicament. On one hand, there are strong reasons to deny that sensations are representations. For there seems to be nothing in the world for them to represent. On the other hand, some sensory representations seem to be required for us to experience bodies. How else could one perceive the boundaries of a body, except by means of different shadings of color? -/- I argue that Nicolas Malebranche offers an extreme (...) – and ultimately unworkable – attempt to solve this riddle. Most commentators claim that Malebranche defends an adverbial theory of sensation, according to which a sensation is merely a way in which an act of sensing happens. The adverbial reading is wrong, or so I argue. Once we arrive at a more accurate reading, we shall see that his position is much more strange than is currently thought. -/- Nevertheless, Malebranche’s view is similar to the adverbial theory in one respect, albeit it at a very high level of generality. His view thus inherits two of the main problems that afflict adverbial theories. Although Malebranche fails to solve them, his ingenious attempts to do so are instructive. (shrink)
The sensation-perception distinction did not appear before the seventeenth century, but since then various formulations of it have gained wide acceptance. This is not an historical accident and the article suggests an explanation for its appearance. Section 1 describes a basic assumption underlying the sensation-perception distinction, to wit, the postulation of a pure sensory stage--viz. sensation--devoid of active influence of the agent's cognitive, emotional, and evaluative frameworks. These frameworks are passive in that stage. I call this postulation (...) the passivity assumption. Section 2 suggests three major reasons for the emergence of this assumption in the seventeenth century: the mental-physical gap, the causal theory of perception, and epistemological considerations regarding the status of the sensory given. In the last section a critical discussion is presented. The passivity assumption is found to have serious empirical and theoretical flaws. (shrink)
Descartes's lack of clarity about the causal connections between brain states and mental states has led many commentators to conclude that he has no coherent account of body-mind relations in sensation, or that he was simply confused about the issue. In this paper I develop what I take to be a coherent account that was available to Descartes, and argue that there are both textual and systematic reasons to think that it was his considered view. The account has brain (...) states serving as occasions for the mind to produce in itself the sensations that it takes these brain states to signify. The relation between body and mind on this model is thus neither a standard efficient-causal relation, nor an occasionalist one, but rather a semantic-causal relation (i.e. a non-standard efficient causal relation that goes by way of natural signification). At the end of the paper I argue that the model does not undermine Descartes' commitment to the self-transparency of the mind. -/- . (shrink)
This essay begins by providing a new account of wittgenstein's private language argument. Wittgenstein's rejection of a "cartesian" account of mind is examined, And it is argued that this rejection carries no commitment to behaviorism, Or to the view that sensation terms have public meanings and private references. Part ii of the essay attempts to forge a link between the two parts of the "philosophical investigations", By arguing that wittgenstein's discussion of "seeing-As" reinforces and illuminates his account of how (...)sensation language is mastered. (shrink)
Are sensation ascriptions descriptive, even in the first person present tense? Do sensation terms refer to, denote, sensations, so that truth and falsity of sensation ascriptions depend on the properties of the denoted sensations? That is, do sensation terms have a denotational semantics? As I understand it, this is denied by Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein rejects the idea of a denotational semantics for public language sensation terms, such as.
We can find no place in psychology for the concept of stimulus as a physical agent to which an individual responds in a psychological manner. Moreover, we can find no place for sensation and image when considered as simple mental elements. We would also purge ...
Prologue : narratocracy and the contours of political life -- From nomos to nomad : Kant, Deleuze, and Rancière on sensation -- The piazza, the edicola, and the noise of the utterance -- Machiavelli's theory of sensation and Florence's vita festiva -- The viewing subject : Caravaggio, Bacon, and the ring -- "You're eating too fast!" slow food's ethos of convivium -- Epilogue : "the photographs tell it all" : on an ethics of appearance.
In this paper I will delineate the psychological operations and faculties required for linguistic apprehension within a Thomistic psychology. This will require first identifying the proper object of linguistic apprehension, which will then allow me to specify the distinct operations and faculties necessary for linguistic apprehension. I will argue that the semantic value of any linguistic term is a type of incidental sensible and that its cognitive apprehension is a type of incidental sensation. Hence, the faculties necessary for the (...) apprehension of any linguistic term’s semantic value will be the cogitative power and the intellect. The cogitative power, because it is the faculty of particular intentions, and the intellect, because it is the faculty of universal intentions. (shrink)
A focus on the relation between sensation and the perceptual object in the philosophies of G H Mead and Maurice Merleau-Ponty points toward their shared views of perception as non-reductionistic and holistic, as inextricably tied to the active role of the sensible body, and as involving a new understanding of the nature of immediacy within experience. This essay explores these shared views.
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.
Some philosophers have argued recently that the content of perception is either entirely or mainly non- conceptual. Much of the motivation for that view derives from theories of information processing, which are a modern version of ancient considerations about the causal processes underlying perception. The paper argues to the contrary that perception is essentially concept- dependent. While perception must have a structure derived from what is purely sensory, and is thereby dependent on processes involving information in the technical sense which (...) Gibson said amounted to structure, the information which perception provides about the world depends on the concepts which we have. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to defend a version of the brain process theory, or identity thesis, which differs in one important respect from the theory put forward by J.J.C. Smart. I shall argue that although the sensations which a person experiences are, as a matter of contingent fact, brain processes, nonetheless there are facts about sensations which cannot be described or understood in terms of any physical theory. These 'mental' facts cannot be described by physics for the simple (...) reason that physical descriptions are designed specifically to avoid mentioning such facts. Thus in giving a physical explanation of a sensation we necessarily describe and render intelligible that sensation only as a physical process, and not also as a sensation. If we are to describe and render intelligible a person's sensations, or inner experiences, as sensations, and not as physical processes occurring in that person's brain, then we must employ a kind of description that connot be derived from any set of physical statements. (shrink)
I interpret the anti-idealist manoeuverings of the second half of Moore's 'The refutation of idealism', material as widely cited for its discussion of 'transparency' and 'diaphanousness' as it is deeply obscure. The centerpiece of these manoeuverings is a phenomenological argument for a relational view of perceptual phenomenal character, on which, roughly, 'that which makes the sensation of blue a mental fact' is a non-intentional relation of conscious awareness, a view close to the opposite of the most characteristic contemporary view (...) going under the transparency rubric. The discussion of transparency and diaphanousness is a sidelight, its principal purpose to shore up the main line of argumentation against criticism; in those passages all Moore argues is that the relation of conscious awareness is not transparent, while acknowledging that it can seem to be. (shrink)
Can an understanding be formed of how sensory experience might be presented or manipulated in visual art in order to promote a relational concept of the senses, in opposition to the customary, capitalist notion of sensation as a private possession, as a sensory impression that is mine? I ask the question in the light of recent visual art theory and practice which pursue relational, ecological ambitions. As Arnold Berleant, Nicolas Bourriaud, and Grant Kester see it, ecological ambition and artistic (...) form should correspond, but they fail to recognize sensation as a site where the ecological cause can be fought. Jacques Rancière argues for the political force of the senses, but his distribution of the sensible does not address the particularity of sensory experience. I identify the difference between these approaches within recent relational or ecological aesthetics and my position on sensibility, and indicate some of the problems involved in referring to the senses. I set out the concepts that are central to the cultivation of relational sensibility: style, autofiguration, and the mobility of sensory meaning, extrapolated from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of Paul Cézanne. They amount to positioning the senses ontologically as movements along lines of conceptual-sensory connection and implication, based on the transfer of meanings created artistically through style and autofiguration. (shrink)
The theory presented here is a near neighbour of Humphrey's theory of sensations as actions. O'Regan & Noë have opened up remarkable new possibilities. But they have missed a trick by not making more of the distinction between sensation and perception; and some of their particular proposals for how we use our eyes to represent visual properties are not only implausible but would, if true, isolate vision from other sensory modalities and do little to explain the phenomenology of conscious (...) experience in general. (shrink)
The sensation of will is not the same thing as the will itself any more than the sensation of hunger is the same thing as being devoid of nutrients. This is not a really surprising claim, but it is the only claim to which Wegner is entitled in his book.