Ambiguous figures and the content of experience

Noûs 40 (1):82-117 (2006)
Abstract
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments to account for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position.
Keywords Ambiguity  Content  Epistemology  Experience  Figure  Gestalt  Representationalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.0029-4624.2006.00602.x
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,169
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Essays on Actions and Events.Donald Davidson - 1980 - Oxford University Press.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Attention and Mental Paint1.Ned Block - 2010 - Philosophical Issues 20 (1):23-63.
Attention and Perceptual Content.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Analysis 70 (2):263-270.
Seeing Absence.Anna Farennikova - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (3):429-454.
Taxonomising the Senses.Fiona Macpherson - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (1):123-142.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Colour Inversion Problems for Representationalism.Fiona Macpherson - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):127-152.
Ambiguous Figures and Representationalism.Nicoletta Orlandi - 2011 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (3):307-323.
Representational Theories of Phenomenal Character.Fiona Macpherson - 2000 - Dissertation, University of Stirling
Strong Representationalism and Centered Content.Berit Brogaard - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (3):373 - 392.
Seeing It All Clearly: The Real Story on Blurry Vision.Robert Schroer - 2002 - American Philosophical Quarterly 39 (3):297-301.
Color Constancy and Russellian Representationalism.Brad J. Thompson - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):75-94.
An Argument for Nonreductive Representationalism.Richard Gray - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (4):365-376.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
252 ( #14,245 of 2,191,856 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #18,838 of 2,191,856 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature