Seeing and hearing directly

According to Paul Snowdon, one directly perceives an object x iff one is in a position to make a true demonstrative judgement of the form “That is x”. Whenever one perceives an object x indirectly (or dependently , as Snowdon puts it) it is the case that there exists an item y (which is not identical to x) such that one can count as demonstrating x only if one acknowledges that y bears a certain relation to x. In this paper I argue that what we hear directly are sounds, and that material objects (such as violins and goldfinches) are only indirectly heard. However, there are cases of auditory object perception that should count as direct : Some blind persons’ ears are so sensitive to the way sound waves are modified by things in their surroundings that they can detect objects such as other persons, fences or trees. Interestingly, objects localized in this way make themselves felt via a kind of pressure in the perceiver’s face (that is why the phenomenon is commonly called “facial vision”), the perception is phenomenally quite different from hearing. Since, to some degree, most people are able to conclude from the way it sounds that, say, they stand at the foot of a concrete wall (when there is enough traffic noise around), we can imagine situations where two persons perceive the same wall, one indirectly (demonstratively apprehending sounds) and the other directly (demonstratively apprehending nothing but the wall). These cases invite us to discuss the role phenomenology plays in determining whether an object is perceived directly or indirectly.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Science   Developmental Psychology   Neuropsychology   Epistemology   Cognitive Psychology   Philosophy of Mind
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-009-0005-4
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References found in this work BETA
Sense and Sensibilia.J. L. Austin - 1962 - Oxford University Press.
Sounds: A Philosophical Theory.Casey O'Callaghan - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Experiencing the Production of Sounds.Matthew Nudds - 2001 - European Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):210-229.
Sense, Reference and Selective Attention.John Campbell - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 71 (71):55-98.

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