Philosophical Studies 174 (9):2297-2313 (2017)

Brian Cutter
University of Notre Dame
In recent work, David Chalmers argues that “Edenic shapes”—roughly, the shape properties phenomenally presented in spatial experience—are not instantiated in our world. His reasons come largely from the theory of Special Relativity. Although Edenic shapes might have been instantiated in a classical Newtonian world, he maintains that they could not be instantiated in a relativistic world like our own. In this essay, I defend realism about Edenic shape, the thesis that Edenic shapes are instantiated in our world, against Chalmers’s challenge from Special Relativity. I begin by clarifying the notion of an Edenic shape by reference to Chalmers’s notion of the “Edenic” content of perceptual experience. I then reconstruct Chalmers’s argument that Edenic shapes could not be instantiated in a relativistic world. His reasoning proceeds from two assumptions. The first is that the only shape properties instantiated in a relativistic world are those which somehow involve relations to frames of reference. This is thought to follow from the phenomenon of Lorentz contraction, a consequence of Special Relativity. The second assumption is that Edenic shapes do not involve relations to frames of reference. One reason to accept the second assumption is that it seems that Edenic shapes could be instantiated in a classical Newtonian world, where the notion of a frame-relative shape has no meaningful application. I then proceed to defend RES against Chalmers’s argument by arguing that Special Relativity, properly understood, provides no support for Chalmers’s first assumption. More generally, I argue, by way of a careful analysis of the geometric structure of Minkowski space–time and Galilean space–time Newtonian physics), that Edenic shapes are no less at home in a relativistic world than in a classical Newtonian world.
Keywords Spatial experience  Representationalism  Phenomenal intentionality  Special Relativity
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-016-0799-8
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Perceptual Illusionism.Brian Cutter - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.

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