Perception Pragmatized: a Pragmatic Reconciliation of Representationalism and Relationalism

Philosophia 46 (2):411-432 (2018)

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of perception that reconciles representationalism and relationalism by relying on pragmatist ideas. I call it the pragmatic view of perception. I argue that fully reconciling representationalism and relationalism requires, first, providing a theory in which how we perceive the world involves representations; second, preserving the idea that perception is constitutively shaped by its objects; and third, offering a direct realist account of perception. This constitutes what I call the Hybrid Triad. I discuss how Charles Peirce’s theory of perception can provide a framework for such a view and I devote the rest of the paper to developing my own pragmatic and Peircean theory of perception. In particular, I argue that considering perception as a continuous temporal process, which essentially involves interaction with the environment, allows us to do justice to the Hybrid Triad. I motivate this view by discussing how a pragmatic theory of perception would deal with issues such as the distinction between veridical and non-veridical experiences and the nature of perceptual objects.

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