The Border Between Seeing and Thinking

New York, US: OUP Usa (2023)
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Abstract

This book argues that there is a joint in nature between seeing and thinking, perception, and cognition. Perception is constitutively iconic, nonconceptual, and nonpropositional, whereas cognition does not have these properties constitutively. The book does not appeal to “intuitions,” as is common in philosophy, but to empirical evidence, including experiments in neuroscience and psychology. The book argues that cognition affects perception, i.e., that perception is cognitively penetrable, but that this does not impugn the joint in nature. A key part of the argument is that we perceive not only low-level properties like colors, shapes, and textures but also high-level properties such as faces and causation. Along the way, the book explains the difference between perception and perceptual memory, the differences between format and content, and whether perception is probabilistic despite our lack of awareness of probabilistic properties. The book argues for perceptual categories that are not concepts, that perception need not be singular, that perceptual attribution and perceptual discrimination are equally fundamental, and that basic features of the mind known as “core cognition” are not a third category in between perception and cognition. The chapter on consciousness leverages these results to argue against some of the most widely accepted theories of consciousness. Although only one chapter is about consciousness, much of the rest of the book repurposes work on consciousness to isolate the scientific basis of perception.

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Author's Profile

Ned Block
New York University

Citations of this work

Between Perception and Thought.Jacob Beck - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Imaginative Beliefs.Joshua Myers - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Can We Perceive the Past?E. J. Green - forthcoming - In Sara Aronowitz & Lynn Nadel (eds.), Space, Time, and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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