The innocent eye: Seeing-as without concepts

Nico Orlandi
University of California, Santa Cruz
Can one see one thing as another without possessing a concept of it? The answer to this question is intuitively negative. This is because seeing x as F is usually taken to consist in the application of the concept F to x . Seeing the duck-rabbit figure as a duck figure, for instance, involves applying the concept DUCK to the figure; thus, one cannot see the figure as the figure of a duck unless one has the concept of a duck and is able to deploy it when looking at the figure. Nearly by definition, then, one cannot see x as F without possessing a concept of F. Contrary to this line of reasoning, this article treats the question of whether we can see x as F without possessing a concept of F as an open and partially empirical question. Seeing x as F involves seeing x in a certain way, namely as F, and whether concepts are required in order to see something in a certain way is an open question. Accordingly, what follows offers a proposal for an alternative way of understanding seeing–as that does not appeal to concept application.
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