Seeing is believing? How reinterpreting perception as dynamic engagement alters the justificatory force of religious experience

William Alston’s Theory of Appearing has attracted considerable attention in recent years, both for its elegant interpretation of direct realism in light of the presentational character of perceptual experience and for its central role in his defense of the justificatory force of Christian mystical experiences. There are different ways to account for presentational character, however, and in this article we argue that a superior interpretation of direct realism can be given by a theory of perception as dynamic engagement. The conditions for dynamic engagement are such that there can be no absolute discontinuity between individual perceptual experiences and more public forms of inquiry, and this requirement has radical consequences for the prima facie justificatory force of religious experience.
Keywords William Alston  Direct realism  Perception  Religious experience  Justification of belief  Dynamic engagement  Alva Noë
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