In his contribution to Human Senses and Perception , R. J. Hirst has made a number of important suggestions about perceptual consciousness, He has emphasised the need to describe ‘what the percipient is or may be conscious of’ from the percipient's own point of view . This mode of description is contrasted with stimulus or neurological description. Perceptual consciousness of one object is distinguished from perceptual consciousness of another object ‘only by or on the evidence of, the person concerned’ . The method of obtaining descriptions of perceptual consciousness is either to question a percipient or to reflect on our own experience, The second important point stressed by Hirst is that the end product of perceiving is ‘the conscious experience of external objects’ . Such an obvious point is often lost sight of in behavioural, dispositional, or neurophysiological analyses, The third and final suggestion made by Hirst to which I want to call attention is the usefulness of a genetic hypothesis to explain and account for perceptual consciousness. Hirst feels that perceptual consciousness is ‘unanalysable at the conscious level’, meaning that it is ‘a unitary awareness of objects or scenes’ and that the ‘various interacting unconscious activities’ which coexist with awareness ‘cannot be brought forward into consciousness’ . The various analytical theories of perception have been designed to break perceptual consciousness into its components. This has resulted in their being false to perceptual consciousness. A genetic explanation of awareness has several advantages, prime among them being its ability to explain the complexity and development of awareness
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DOI 10.1017/S135824610000059X
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