Affordances and the nature of perceptual content

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (2):161-177 (2008)
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Abstract

According to John McDowell, representational perceptual content is conceptual through and through. This paper criticizes this view by claiming that there is a certain kind of representational and non-conceptual perceptual content that is sensitive to bodily skills. After a brief introduction to McDowell's position, Merleau-Ponty's notion of body schema and Gibson's notion of affordance are presented. It is argued that affordances are constitutive of representational perceptual content, and that at least some affordances, the so-called 'conditional affordances', are essentially related to the body schema. This means that the perceptual content depends upon the nature of the body schema. Since the body schema does not pertain to the domain that our conceptual faculties operate upon, it is argued that this kind of perceptual content cannot be conceptual. At least some of that content is representational, yet it cannot feature as non-demonstrative conceptual content. It is argued that if it features as demonstrative conceptual content, it has to be captured by private concepts. Since McDowell's theory does not allow for the existence of a private language, it is concluded that at least some representational perceptual content is non-conceptual

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Jan Almäng
NLA Høgskolen

References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press.
Action in Perception.Alva Noë - 2005 - MIT Press.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Action in Perception. [REVIEW]Alva Noë - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (5):259-272.

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