In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the relation of consciousness, the will, and our intentional and voluntary actions. Wegner claims that our experience and common sense view according to which we can influence our behavior roughly the way we experience that we do it is an illusion.
Saul Smilansky presents an original new approach to the problem of free will, which lies at the heart of morality and self-understanding. He maintains that the key to the problem is the role played by illusion. Smilansky boldly claims that we could not live adequately with a complete awareness of the truth about human freedom and that illusion lies at the center of the human condition.
As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the (...) standard conception is false. Perhaps surprisingly, naïve realism provides a better account of color illusion.An apparence ymaad by som Magyk. Chaucer. (shrink)
In rubber hand illusions and full body illusions, touch sensations are projected to non-body objects such as rubber hands, dolls or virtual bodies. The robustness, limits and further perceptual consequences of such illusions are not yet fully explored or understood. A number of experiments are reported that test the limits of a variant of the rubber hand illusion. Methodology/Principal Findings -/- A variant of the rubber hand illusion is explored, in which the real and foreign hands are aligned (...) in personal space. The presence of the illusion is ascertained with participants' scores and temperature changes of the real arm. This generates a basic illusion of touch projected to a foreign arm. Participants are presented with further, unusual visuotactile stimuli subsequent to onset of the basic illusion. Such further visuotactile stimulation is found to generate very unusual experiences of supernatural touch and touch on a non-hand object. The finding of touch on a non-hand object conflicts with prior findings, and to resolve this conflict a further hypothesis is successfully tested: that without prior onset of the basic illusion this unusual experience does not occur. Conclusions/Significance -/- A rubber hand illusion is found that can arise when the real and the foreign arm are aligned in personal space. This illusion persists through periods of no tactile stimulation and is strong enough to allow very unusual experiences of touch felt on a cardboard box and experiences of touch produced at a distance, as if by supernatural causation. These findings suggest that one's visual body image is explained away during experience of the illusion and they may be of further importance to understanding the role of experience in delusion formation. The findings of touch on non-hand objects may help reconcile conflicting results in this area of research. In addition, new evidence is provided that relates to the recently discovered psychologically induced temperature changes that occur during the illusion. (shrink)
In The illusion of conscious will , Daniel Wegner offers an exciting, informative, and potentially threatening treatise on the psychology of action. I offer several interpretations of the thesis that conscious will is an illusion. The one Wegner seems to suggest is "modular epiphenomenalism": conscious experience of will is produced by a brain system distinct from the system that produces action; it interprets our behavior but does not, as it seems to us, cause it. I argue that the (...) evidence Wegner presents to support this theory, though fascinating, is inconclusive and, in any case, he has not shown that conscious will does not play a crucial causal role in planning, forming intentions, etc. This theory's potential blow to our self-conception turns out to be a glancing one. (shrink)
Autism spectrum disorder is characterised by differences in unimodal and multimodal sensory and proprioceptive processing, with complex biases towards local over global processing. Many of these elements are implicated in versions of the rubber hand illusion, which were therefore studied in high-functioning individuals with ASD and a typically developing control group. Both groups experienced the illusion. A number of differences were found, related to proprioception and sensorimotor processes. The ASD group showed reduced sensitivity to visuotactile-proprioceptive discrepancy but more (...) accurate proprioception. This group also differed on acceleration in subsequent reach trials. Results are discussed in terms of weak top-down integration and precision-accuracy trade-offs. The RHI appears to be a useful tool for investigating multisensory processing in ASD. (shrink)
In "What the Nose Doesn't Know", I argue that there are no olfactory illusions. Central to the traditional notions of illusion and hallucination is a notion of object-failure—the failure of an experience to represent particular objects. Because there are no presented objects in the case of olfactory experience, I argue that the traditional ways of categorizing non-veridical experience do not apply to the olfactory case. In their place, I propose a novel notion of non-veridical experience for the olfactory case. (...) In his (2011), Stevenson responds to my claim that there are no olfactory illusions. Although he agrees that it is natural—or at least commonplace—to think there are no olfactory illusions, he argues that there are and provides examples of them, many of which he suggests have analogues in the visual and auditory domains. In this paper, I examine the nature of the disagreement between us. I argue that Stevenson fails to argue against my conclusion that there are no olfactory illusions. (shrink)
The argument from illusion attempts to establish the bold claim that we are never perceptually aware of ordinary material objects. The argument has rightly received a great deal critical of scrutiny. But here we develop a criticism that, to our knowledge, has not hitherto been explored. We consider the canonical form of the argument as it is captured in contemporary expositions. There are two stages to our criticism. First, we show that the argument is invalid. Second, we identify premises (...) that can be used to make the argument valid. But we argue that the obvious fixes are problematic. If our arguments are successful, we show that the argument from illusion is even more difficult to defend than is commonly acknowledged. (shrink)
The Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic of Kant's first Critique is notorious for two reasons. First, it appears to contradict itself in saying that the idea of the systematic unity of nature is and is not transcendental. Second, in the passages in which Kant appears to espouse the former alternative, he appears to be making a significant amendment to his account of the conditions of the possibility of experience in the Transcendental Analytic. I propose a solution to both of these (...) difficulties. With regard to the first, I argue that Kant does not contradict himself. With regard to the second, I argue that Kant is not making any change to his view of the conditions of the possibility of experience espoused in the Transcendental Analytic. The underlying cause of these apparent problems is also their solution: the transcendental illusion that nature is necessarily systematic. (shrink)
Sir Peter Strawson’s ‘Freedom and Resentment’ was a landmark in the philosophical understanding of the free will problem. Building upon it, I attempt to defend a novel position, which purports to provide, in outline, the next step forward. The position presented is based on the descriptively central and normatively crucial role of illusion in the issue of free will. Illusion, I claim, is the vital but neglected key to the free will problem. The proposed position, which may be (...) called ‘Illusionism’, is shown to follow both from the strengths and from the weaknesses of Strawson’s position. (shrink)
It is well-known that naïve realism has difficulty accommodating perceptual error. Recent discussion of the issue has focused on whether the naïve realist can accommodate hallucination by adopting disjunctivism. However, illusions are more difficult for the naïve realist to explain precisely because the disjunctivist solution is not available. I discuss what I take to be the two most plausible accounts of illusion available to the naïve realist. The first claims that illusions are cases in which you are prevented from (...) perceiving properties you would ordinarily perceive and subsequently form a mistaken judgment about the perceived object. The second appeals to an unusual look or appearance that the perceived object instantiates. I argue that neither account is satisfactory and that, consequently, naïve realism ought to be rejected. (shrink)
Here, we assess the usefulness of first-person methods for the study of embodiment during the rubber hand illusion (RHI). Participants observed a rubber hand being stroked synchronously and asynchronously with their concealed hand after which they made proprioceptive judgments about the location of their hand and completed a self-report questionnaire. A randomly selected cohort was further interviewed during the illusion and their transcripts analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results showed that the IPA group experienced a more intense (...) embodied experience during the RHI, measured by proprioceptive distortion and self-report. IPA revealed four main themes of embodied experience: recalibration of the body schema; violation of the body schema; multisensory integration; and illusory experience over time. The report of agency was a significant predictor of proprioceptive distortion. This study shows how first-person methodologies can be empirically rigorous and how the introspective interview provides a rich, detailed account of embodied experience. (shrink)
Some investigators of the rubber hand illusion (RHI) have suggested that when standard RHI induction procedures are employed, if the rubber hand is experienced by participants as owned, their corresponding biological hands are experienced as disowned. Others have demurred: drawing upon a variety of experimental data and conceptual considerations, they infer that experience of the RHI might include the experience of a supernumerary limb, but that experienced disownership of biological hands does not occur. Indeed, some investigators even categorically deny (...) that any experimental paradigm has been employed or any evidence can be adduced to support the claim that disownership experiences occur during the RHI. It goes without saying that RHI experiences can be elusive, and that there is some evidence to support claims that supernumerary limb experiences can sometimes occur. Here, however, we test the claim that the conscious experience of disownership can occur during the RHI. In order to test this claim, we developed two new online proxies—onset time for the illusion and illusion duration—and combined these with established questionnaires that concern the conscious contents of the RHI, in particular ownership/disownership experiences. Both online proxy data and post hoc questionnaire data converge in supporting the claim that disownership experiences do occur, at least when the left hand is the object of investigation. Our findings that onset time and illusion duration are reliable measures suggest that investigations of the RHI stand to benefit by devoting more attention to data collected while the RHI is being experienced, in particular data concerning temporal dynamics. (shrink)
In this paper we introduce a paradigm of experiment which, we believe, is of interest both in psychology and philosophy. There the subject wears an HMD (head-mount display), and a camera is set up at the upper corner of the room, in which the subject is. As a result, the subject observes his own body through the HMD. We will mainly focus on the philosophical relevance of this experiment, especially to the thesis of so-called 'immunity to error through misidentification relative (...) to the first-person pronoun'. We will argue that one experiment conducted in this setting, which we call the bodily illusion experiment, provides a counterexample to that thesis. (shrink)
Since the publication of Oneself as Another , many sociologists have referred to the work of Paul Ricœur, some of them considering his notion of narrative identity to be a useful means of analyzing some aspects individual identity left unresolved by Bourdieu’s notion of habitus . Bourdieu had, however, already discredited the sociological relevance of the notion of narrative in his 1986 article “The Biographical Illusion.” Through a careful re-reading of both texts, this article will determine to what extent (...) the sociological use of Ricœur’s notions can escape the confines of Bourdieu’s analysis and, moreover, the different conceptions of the human being and of ethics underlying the two distinct frameworks of analysis.  . (shrink)
In recent years, a pair of intriguing phenomena has caused researchers working on vision and visual attention to reevaluate many of their assumptions. These phenomena, which have come to be called change blindness (CB) and inattentional blindness (IB), have led many to the conclusion that ordinary perceivers labor under a ``grand illusion'' concerning perception - an illusion that is..
Relationalism is a view popularized by Cohen according to which the colors are relational properties. Cohen’s view has the unintuitive consequence that the following propositions are false: (i) no object can be more than one determinate or determinable color all over at the same time; (ii) ordinary illusion cases occur whenever the color perceptually represented conflicts, according to (i) above, with the object’s real color; and (iii) the colors we perceive obey (i). I investigate Cohen’s attempt to address these (...) intuitive propositions with which his view struggles and find it to be incompatible with how he motivates his view. (shrink)
In an attempt to revive discussion of the argument from illusion this paper amends the classic version of the argument to avoid Austin's main objection. It then develops and defends a version of the intentional object reply to the argument, arguing that an "unendorsed story" account of reports of dreams and hallucinations avoids commitment to nonexistent objects.
Tibetan Buddhist writings frequently state that many of the things we perceive in the world are in fact illusory, as illusory as echoes or mirages. In Twelve Examples of Illusion , Jan Westerhoff offers an engaging look at a dozen illusions--including magic tricks, dreams, rainbows, and reflections in a mirror--showing how these phenomena can give us insight into reality. For instance, he offers a fascinating discussion of optical illusions, such as the wheel of fire (the "wheel" seen when a (...) torch is swung rapidly in a circle), discussing Tibetan explanations of this phenomenon as well as the findings of modern psychology, and significantly clarifying the idea that most phenomena--from chairs to trees--are similar illusions. The book uses a variety of crystal-clear examples drawn from a wide variety of fields, including contemporary philosophy and cognitive science, as well as the history of science, optics, artificial intelligence, geometry, economics, and literary theory. Throughout, Westerhoff makes both Buddhist philosophical ideas and the latest theories of mind and brain come alive for the general reader. -/- "This delightful book offers a rich and satisfying philosophical feast to anyone interested in the phenomenon of illusion itself or in the Buddhist analysis of the human condition. Westerhoff draws together classical Buddhist scholarship, contemporary cognitive science and his own judicious philosophical reflection in a serious but refreshingly accessible engagement with the Buddhist tradition in the exploration of the role of illusion in our cognitive and emotional lives." Jay L. Garfield, author of Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika -/- "Jan Westerhoff creatively juxtaposes an important Buddhist study of illusion with fascinating modern researches on illusory experiences, using the latter to illuminate the former. The result is a revealing account of the pervasiveness of illusion in our cognitive experience and the very structure of our cognitive apparatus. It brings to life the Buddhist discussion of illusion, making it relevant to our everyday experience instead of being high-minded intellectual exercises only." -/- Tao Jiang, author of Contexts and Dialogue: Yogacara Buddhism and Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind -/- "The twelve similes for the illusory nature of this world are very profound, and Westerhoff does them wonderful justice in this excellent book." -/- Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University. (shrink)
The article shows the "Appendix" to Søren Kierkegaard's "Philosophical Fragments" to be a response to Ludwig Feuerbach's critique of Christianity. While previous studies have detected some influence by Feuerbach on Kierkegaard, they have so far discovered little in the way of specific responses to Feuerbach's ideas in Kierkegaard's published works. The article first makes the historical argument that Kierkegaard was very likely reading Feuerbach's "Essence of Christianity" while he was writing "Philosophical Fragments", as several of Kierkegaard's journal entries from that (...) period discuss Feuerbach in relation to central ideas in "Fragments". The article then shows how Kierkegaard's pseudonym Johannes Climacus inverts Feuerbach's projection theory, turning it against critics like Feuerbach. At the heart of Feuerbach's critique of Christianity is the claim that religion is a conceptual illusion, whereby the individual projects his or her personal limits onto the species and then projects the unlimited onto a supposed divine being. Furthermore, Feuerbach sees Christianity as rife with absurdities that tell against its reasonableness. In exploring a hypothetical transcendent avenue toward the truth, Climacus inverts both of these philosophical moves. He argues that on the transcendent hypothesis, the immanentist critic is himself a victim of an "acoustical illusion": the absolute paradox of the appearance of the god in time is in fact not judged by, but rather judges, the critic as absurd. In inverting and not repudiating Feuerbach's critique, Climacus reveals the critic as a Socratic figure who displays the heights—and ultimately, the limits—of secular philosophy's capabilities. (shrink)
Firth argues that austin's criticisms of the argument from illusion do not destroy the argument. We can reformulate it in two ways so that it succeeds as a method of ostensibly defining terms denoting the sensory constituent of perceptual experience. One way maintains the act-Object distinction of the cartesian tradition and the other uses the language of "looks." (staff).
Why does cinema exert such power over our emotions? Many have wanted to answer by appeal to the idea that film sustains some illusion concerning the events it narrates. I compare three such views: that film sustains the illusion that those events are before us; that it sustains that illusion, but only partially; and that, though viewers are always fully aware of seeing pictures, those pictures are experienced as the moving photographic record of the narrated events. I (...) identify these positions’ successes and failures in explaining film’s emotional power, and various ways in which the issue between them might be tested further. (shrink)
This paper resurrects two discredited ideas in the philosophy of mind. The first: the idea that perceptual illusion might have something metaphysically significant to tell us about the nature of phenomenal consciousness. The second: that the colours and other qualities that ‘fill’ our sensory fields are occurrent properties (rather than representations of properties) that are, nevertheless, to be distinguished from the ‘objective’ properties of things in the external world. Theories of consciousness must recognize the existence of what Daniel Dennett (...) mockingly labels ‘figment,’ but this result—though metaphysically and epistemologically significant—is not incompatible with either physicalism or naturalized semantics. (shrink)
The belief that conscious will is merely "an illusion created by the brain" appears to be gaining in popularity among cognitive neuroscientists. Its main adherents usually refer to the classic, but controversial 'Libet-experiments', as the empirical evidence that vindicates this illusion-claim. However, based on recent work that provides other interpretations of the Libet-experiments, we argue that the illusion-claim is not only empirically invalid, but also theoretically incoherent, as it is rooted in a category mistake; namely, the presupposition (...) that neuronal activity causes conscious will. We show that the illusion-claim is based on the behaviorist 'input-output' paradigm, and discuss the notions of 'self-organization' and 'self-steering' to provide an alternative perspective on the causal efficacy of conscious will. In the final sections, a tentative theoretical picture is sketched of conscious will as an instance of self-steered self-organization. We conclude that the subjective experience of conscious will is not a misguided one, but rather that the mechanisms supporting conscious will are considerably more complex than mainstream cognitive neuroscience currently acknowledges. (shrink)
The paper's first four sections give a taxonomy and criticism of three classes of objections to the argument from illusion. the last section raises the question whether its main premise does not misclassify perceptual accusatives (e.g. 'sensation of bentness') as individuatives that imply the existence of, say, bent particulars.
The psychological concept of illusion is defined as a process involving an interaction of logical and empirical considerations. Common usage suggests that an illusion is a discrepancy between one's awareness and some stimulus. Following preliminary definitions of classes of stimuli, five definitions of illusion are considered, based upon the possible discrepancies between awareness and a stimulus. It is found that each of these definitions fails to make important distinctions, even to the point of equating all illusory and (...) perceptual phenomena. This dilemma is resolved by redefining illusion without reference to truth or falsity, but relative to the functioning of a given perceptual system under different conditions. The definition accepted as best is 'a discrepancy between one's perceptions of an object or event observed under different conditions'. Conditions may differ in terms of stimulus exposure, stimulus context, or experiental context. The philosophical and psychological implications are discussed of accepting a definition of illusion not based on a discrepancy between awareness and a stimulus. (shrink)
The Müller-Lyer illusion is the natural consequence of the construction of the vertebrate eye, retina and visual processing system. Due to imperfections in the vertebrate eye and retina and due to the subsequent processing in the system by ever increasing receptive fields, the visual information becomes less and less precise with respect to exact location and size. The consequence of this is that eventually the brain has to calculate a weighted mean value of the information, which is spread out (...) over a population of neurons. In the case of the Müller-Lyer illusion this inevitably leads to extension of one and reduction of the other line. The arguments presented explain several published experimental results concerning the Müller-Lyer illusion and shed new light upon the philosophical neutrality of observation sentences. (shrink)
In the following essay, I attempt to defend a novel position on ‘the free will problem’. In particular, I intend to provide (in outline) a position based on the descriptively central and normatively crucial role of illusion in the free will issue. Illusion, I claim, is the vital but neglected key to the free will problem. The proposed position, which can be called ‘Illusionism’, can be defended independently from its derivation from P. F. Strawson’s ‘reactive-naturalism’. However, since the (...) role of illusion emerges only at a late stage of the train of arguments pertaining to free will, we will get to our destination by ‘free-riding’ most of the way on Strawson’s train, and then continue a bit further by ourselves, into the uncharted and dangerous Land Of Illusion. (shrink)
In the absence of an objective contingency, psychological studies have shown that people nevertheless attribute outcomes to their own actions. Thus, by wrongly inferring control in chance situations people appear to hold false beliefs concerning their agency, and are said to succumb to an illusion of control (IoC). In the current article, we challenge traditional conceptualizations of the illusion by examining the thesis that the IoC reflects rational and adaptive decision making. Firstly, we propose that the IoC is (...) a by-product of a rational uncertain judgment (“the likelihood that I have control over a particular outcome”). We adopt a Bayesian perspective to demonstrate that, given their past experience, people should be prone to ascribing skill to chance outcomes in certain situations where objectively control does not exist. Moreover, existing empirical evidence from the IoC literature is shown to support such an account. Secondly, from a decision-theoretic perspective, in many consequential situations, underestimating the chance of controlling a situation carries more costs than overestimating that chance. Thus, situations will arise in which people will incorrectly assign control to events in which outcomes result from chance, but the attribution is based on rational processes. (shrink)
Experimental phenomenology has demonstrated that perception is much richer than stimulus. As is seen in color perception, one and the same stimulus provides more than several modes of appearance or perceptual dimensions. Similarly, there are various perceptual dimensions in form perception. Even a simple geometrical figure inducing visual illusion gives not only perceptual impressions of size, shape, slant, depth, and orientation, but also affective or aesthetic impressions. The present study reviews our experimental phenomenological work on visual illusion and (...) experimental aesthetics, and examines how aesthetic preference is influenced by stimulus factors determining visual illusions including anomalous surface and transparency as well as geometrical illusion. Along with line figures producing geometrical illusions, illusory surface figures inducing neon color spreading and transparency effects were used as test patterns. Participants made both of psychophysical judgments and of aesthetic judgments for the same test pattern. Both of geometrical illusions and aesthetic preferences were found to change similarly as a function of stimulus variables such as the number of filling lines and the size ratio of the inner and outer figural components. Also, following specific stimulus variables such as lightness contrast ratio and spatial interval between inducing figural elements (so called ``packmen''), strong effects of color spreading and transparency were accompanied with strong preferences. It seems that the paradigm to investigate aesthetic phenomena along with perceptual dimensions is useful to bridge the gap between experimental phenomenology and experimental aesthetics. (shrink)
It is pretended to show the influence Cervantes had on Freud. Freud was worried about the psychic disorders. He was also disappointed by the methods of psychiatry had at that time. Freud was very interested in the plays of Cervantes, especially in El coloquio de los perros and El Quixote, where reality and illusion, and the relationship between sanity and insanity are their central axes. One of the possible readings of the great play is the one where limits between (...) reason and unreason are not clear, to the point of achieving “the reason of the unreasonableness”, which would make it understandable and explicable. Real fantasy, fantastic reality, the demarcation between them was one of the topics that worried Freud. Freud is not a simple lawyer of the irrationality, but he also tries to find “the reason of the unreasonableness” that neurotics show in the symptoms he tried to explain in detail. (shrink)
L’auteur cherche à montrer que les passages dans lesquels le poète des Acharniens semble rompre l’illusion et conférer un statut privilégié au public en lui donnant des informations sur la fiction, sont en fait ambigus : le public de la comédie est en réalité, même et surtout à ces moments-là, traité par le poète comme un public crédule. Dès lors, c’est la mission politique que s’arroge la comédie, en prétendant éduquer les citoyens et les rendre lucides, qui est en (...) question. (shrink)
Illusion und Aufklärung: 1. Apologie der Illusion in Kants Opponenten-Rede gegen Johann Gottlieb Kreutzfeld. 2. Eine heilsame Illusion: wie die Kultur aus der Natur entsteht. 3. Acedia und das radikal Böse -- Praktiken der Illusion in der Moderne: 1. Nietzsches Tanz um die Philosophie. 2. Erzeugung von Zukunft. Sprachformen der Apokalypse bei Hermann Cohen. 3. Zu Benjamins Kritik des Scheins im Wahlverwandtschaftenaufsatz mit einem Exkurs zu Cohens Behandlung des Empfindungsproblems. 4. Heilsame Illusion und auratische Wahrnehmung. (...) 5. Antigenealogische Revolte und Reproduktion -- Nachspiel: Diffraktion Statt Reflexion. Die Fadenspiele von Donna J. Haraway: eine Methode mit kleinem "m.". (shrink)
This major study of Kant provides a detailed examination of the development and function of the doctrine of transcendental illusion in his theoretical philosophy. The author shows that a theory of 'illusion' plays a central role in Kant's arguments about metaphysical speculation and scientific theory. Indeed, she argues that we cannot understand Kant unless we take seriously his claim that the mind inevitably acts in accordance with ideas and principles that are 'illusory'. Taking this claim seriously, we can (...) make much better sense of Kant's arguments and reach a deeper understanding of the role he allots human reason in science. (shrink)
Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF. ;The libertarian conception of free will is incoherent, irrespective of the prospects for determinism. However, both compatibilist and hard determinist accounts of the implications of the lack of libertarian free will are inadequate. This I attempt to show primarily with respect to the notions of desert and justice. Working from a "Core Conception" of justice, I argue that we are obliged to recognize a "Fundamental Dualism" in the morally (...) proper attitude to desert and justice. This means that the compatibilist claim that moral responsibility and justice are not harmed by the lack of libertarian free will is mistaken; but so is the hard determinist claim that no account of moral responsibility and justice is possible once the lack of libertarian free will is realized. The dualistic position proposed attempts to combine the insights of compatibilism and hard determinism, while avoiding their inadequacies. Other alternative positions on the free will issue are also argued to be inadequate. In the light of these considerations it is argued that motivated illusion is a central requirement of moral and personal life. In arguing for the importance of illusion, I claim that it is a reality today, that it is mostly positive, and that by and large it ought to continue. To some extent illusion is unavoidable, but, even more interestingly, there seem to be avoidable but morally necessary illusions. The importance of illusion presents great difficulties in the moral and political sphere as well as in the cognitive sphere. Appreciation of the relatively neglected role of illusion, which follows from the basic structure of the free will problem in its moral aspects, is an important key to making progress on this problem. (shrink)
Recent debates between representational and relational theories of perceptual experience sometimes fail to clarify in what respect the two views differ. In this essay, I explain that the relational view rejects two related claims endorsed by most representationalists: the claim that perceptual experiences can be erroneous, and the claim that having the same representational content is what explains the indiscriminability of veridical perceptions and phenomenally matching illusions or hallucinations. I then show how the relational view can claim that errors associated (...) with perception should be explained in terms of false judgments, and develop a theory of illusions based on the idea that appearances are properties of objects in the surrounding environment. I provide an account of why appearances are sometimes misleading, and conclude by showing how the availability of this view undermines one of the most common ways of motivating representationalist theories of perception. (shrink)
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, declared that religion is a universal obsessional neurosis in his famous work of 1927, The Future of an Illusion. This work provoked immediate controversy and has continued to be an important reference for anyone interested in the intersection of philosophy, psychology, religion, and culture. Included in this volume is Oskar Pfister's critical engagement with Freud's views on religion. Pfister, a Swiss pastor and lay analyst, defends mature religion from Freud's "scientism." Freud's and Pfister's (...) texts have been updated in Gregory C. Richter's translations from the original German. (shrink)
In this paper I explore a brand of scepticism about perceptual experience that takes its start from recent work in psychology and philosophy of mind on change blindness and related phenomena. I argue that the new scepticism rests on a problematic phenomenology of perceptual experience. I then consider a strengthened version of the sceptical challenge that seems to be immune to this criticism. This strengthened sceptical challenge formulates what I call the problem of perceptual presence. I show how this problem (...) can be addressed by drawing on an enactive or sensorimotor approach to perceptual consciousness. Our experience of environmental detail consists in our access to that detail thanks to our possession of practical knowledge of the way in which what we do and sensory stimulation depend on each other. (shrink)
There is a widespread, popular view—and one I basically endorse—that Nietzsche is, in one sense of the word, a nihilist. As Arthur Danto put it some time ago, according to Nietzsche, “there is nothing in [the world] which might sensibly be supposed to have value.” As interpreters of Nietzsche, though, we cannot simply stop here. Nietzsche's higher men, Übermenschen, “genuine philosophers”, free spirits—the types Nietzsche wants to bring forth from the human, all-too-human herds he sees around him with the fish (...) hooks, as he says, of his books—seem to engage in what looks like valuing. These free spirits are supposed to revalue the old values—revaluing, as is clear from the texts, is not simply to remove the old values from circulation (Nietzsche uses “umwerten” and not “entwerten”)—and they are supposed to create new values. And, of course, Nietzsche himself, free spirit that he is, takes on the task of revaluing all values and seems to assert many a strident evaluation. So we need to say more here. What are Nietzsche and his free spirits up to when they engage in what looks, for all the world, like a practice of valuing? What is the practice of valuing Nietzsche is recommending for his free spirits? I argue for two claims: (i) First, we end up facing an interpretive puzzle when we attempt to explain how Nietzsche's free spirits are supposed to engage in a practice of valuing. (ii) Second, we can solve the interpretive puzzle by taking Nietzsche's free spirits to be engaged in a fictionalist simulacrum of valuing. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind have recently sought to establish a theoret- ical use for nonconceptual content. Although there is disagreement about what nonconceptual content is supposed to be, this much is clear. A state with nonconceptual content is mental. Hence, while one may deny that refrigerators and messy rooms have conceptual capacities, their states, as physical and not mental, do not have nonconceptual content. A state with nonconceptual content is also intentional, which is to say that it represents a feature of (...) the world for a subject. It may be tempting to think of qualitative states as having nonconceptual content since they can be experienced by indi- viduals independently of their possession of the requisite concepts, e.g. someone could experience pains, itches or tingles without possessing the concept pain, itch or tingle. But on such a view, one would have to assume that qualitative states are representational since mental states cannot be candidates for nonconceptuality unless they have intentional properties.2. (shrink)