Are the Senses Silent? Travis’s Argument from Looks

In John Collins & Tamara Dobler (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 199-221 (2018)

Authors
Keith A. Wilson
University of Oslo
Abstract
Many philosophers and scientists take perceptual experience, whatever else it involves, to be representational. In ‘The Silence of the Senses’, Charles Travis argues that this view involves a kind of category mistake, and consequently, that perceptual experience is not a representational or intentional phenomenon. The details of Travis’s argument, however, have been widely misinterpreted by his representationalist opponents, many of whom dismiss it out of hand. This chapter offers an interpretation of Travis’s argument from looks that it is argued presents a genuine and important challenge to orthodox representational views of experience. Whilst this challenge may not be insurmountable, it places a substantial burden upon the representationalist to explain not only how experiences come to have the contents that they do, but how those contents come to feature in our conscious mental lives.
Keywords Perception  Representational content  Charles Travis  Looks  Perceptual appearances  Naïve Realism
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Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.1093/oso/9780198783916.003.0010>)
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