Auditory perception is traditionally conceived as the perception of sounds — a friend’s voice, a clap of thunder, a minor chord. However, daily life also seems to present us with experiences characterized by the absence of sound — a moment of silence, a gap between thunderclaps, the hush after a musical performance. In these cases, do we positively hear silence? Or do we just fail to hear, and merely judge or infer that it is silent? This longstanding question remains controversial (...) in both the philosophy and science of perception, with prominent theories holding that sounds are the only objects of auditory experience and thus that our encounter with silence is cognitive, not perceptual. However, this debate has largely remained theoretical, without a key empirical test. Here, we introduce a novel empirical approach, presenting experimental evidence that silence can be genuinely perceived (not just cognitively inferred). We ask whether silences can ‘substitute’ for sounds in event-based auditory illusions — empirical signatures of auditory event representation in which auditory events distort perceived duration. Seven experiments introduce three new ‘silence illusions’ — the one-silence-is-more illusion, silence-based warping, and the oddball-silence illusion — each adapted from a prominent perceptual illusion previously thought to arise only from sounds. Subjects were immersed in ambient noise interrupted by silences structurally identical to the sounds in the original illusions. In all cases, silences elicited temporal distortions perfectly analogous to the illusions produced by sounds. Our results suggest that silence is truly heard, not merely inferred, introducing a general approach for studying absence perception. (shrink)
Philosophers have lately seized upon Sperling's partial report technique and subsequent work on iconic memory in support of controversial claims about perceptual experience, in particular that phenomenology overflows cognitive access. Drawing on mounting evidence concerning postdictive perception, I offer an interpretation of Sperling's data in terms of cue-sensitive experience which fails to support any such claims. Arguments for overflow based on change-detection paradigms (e.g. Landman et al., 2003; Sligte et al., 2008) cannot be blocked in this way. However, such paradigms (...) are fundamentally different from Sperling's and, for rather different reasons, equally fail to establish controversial claims about perceptual experience. (shrink)
Most contemporary theorists regard the traditional thesis that perception is essentially conscious as just another armchair edict to be abandoned in the wake of empirical discovery. Here I reconsider this dramatic departure from tradition. My aim is not to recapture our prelapsarian confidence that perception is inevitably conscious (though much I say might be recruited to that cause). Instead, I want to problematize the now ubiquitous belief in unconscious perception. The paper divides into two parts. Part One is more purely (...) philosophical. It explains how standard arguments for unconscious perception rely on contentious background assumptions concerning the relation between ordinary perception and the explanatory constructs of scientific psychology. Part Two, in contrast, offers detailed engagement with relevant empirical work. It exposes how, even setting aside the concerns identified in Part One, a dilemma confronts the believer in unconscious perception. This dilemma arises because ordinary perception is an individual-level state or occurrence, yet criteria sufficiently stringent to guarantee that a putatively perceptual state is unconscious vitiate the grounds for its attribution to the individual. The dilemma foments a hypothesis, namely that the conditions for genuine, individual-level perception are sufficient conditions for perceptual consciousness. The viability of this hypothesis should unnerve anyone who thinks unconscious perception is simply an empirical given. (shrink)
Many contemporary theorists charge that naïve realists are incapable of accounting for illusions. Various sophisticated proposals have been ventured to meet this charge. Here, we take a different approach and dispute whether the naïve realist owes any distinctive account of illusion. To this end, we begin with a simple, naïve account of veridical perception. We then examine the case that this account cannot be extended to illusions. By reconstructing an explicit version of this argument, we show that it depends critically (...) on the contention that perceptual experience is diaphanous, or more minimally and precisely, that there can be no difference in phenomenal properties between two experiences without a difference in the scenes presented in those experiences. Finding no good reason to accept this claim, we develop and defend a simple, naïve account of both veridical perception and illusion, here dubbed Simple, Austere Naïve Realism. (shrink)
Block () highlights two experimental studies of neglect patients which, he contends, provide ‘dramatic evidence’ for unconscious seeing. In Block's hands this is the highly non-trivial thesis that seeing of the same fundamental kind as ordinary conscious seeing can occur outside of phenomenal consciousness. Block's case for it provides an excellent opportunity to consider a large body of research on clinical syndromes widely held to evidence unconscious perception. I begin by considering in detail the two studies of neglect to which (...) Block appeals. I show why their interpretation as evidence of unconscious seeing faces a series of local difficulties. I then explain how, even bracketing these issues, a long-standing but overlooked problem concerning our criterion for consciousness problematizes the appeal to both studies. I explain why this problem is especially pressing for Block given his view that phenomenal consciousness overflows access consciousness. I further show that it is epidemic—not only affecting all report-based studies of unconscious seeing in neglect, but also analogous studies of the condition most often alleged to show unconscious seeing, namely blindsight. (shrink)
What is the purpose of perception? And how might the answer to this question help distinguish perception from other mental processes? Block’s landmark book, The Border between Seeing and Thinking, investigates the nature of perception, how perception differs from cognition, and why the distinction matters. It is, as one would expect, wide-ranging, deeply informed by relevant science, and hugely stimulating. Here, we explore a central project of the book — Block’s attempts to identify the features of perception that distinguish it (...) from higher-level cognition — by focusing on his suggestion that such features closely relate to perception’s purpose. As well as offering detailed critical discussion of these proposals, our more general aim is to advertise both the promise and pitfalls of asking: What is perception for? (shrink)
Philosophers have long struggled to understand our perceptual experience of temporal properties such as succession, persistence and change. Indeed, strikingly, a number have felt compelled to deny that we enjoy such experience. Philosophical puzzlement arises as a consequence of assuming that, if one experiences succession or temporal structure at all, then one experiences it at a moment. The two leading types of theory of temporal awareness—specious present theories and memory theories—are best understood as attempts to explain how temporal awareness is (...) possible within the constraints of this principle. I argue that the principle is false. Neither theory of temporal awareness can be made workable unless it is rejected. Our experience of temporal phenomena cannot be understood if we attempt to break experience down into instantaneous slices. In order to understand the perception of temporal properties we must look beyond the instant. (shrink)
How must experience of time be structured in time? In particular, does the following principle, which I will call inheritance, hold: for any temporal property apparently presented in perceptual experience, experience itself has that same temporal property. For instance, if I hear Paul McCartney singing ‘Hey Jude’, must my auditory experience of the ‘Hey’ itself precede my auditory experience of the ‘Jude’, or can the temporal order of these experiences come apart from the order the words are experienced as having? (...) A number of recent authors (Phillips Experience and Time, ‘The Temporal Structure of Experience’, Soteriou ‘Perceiving Events’, Hoerl ‘“A Succession of Feelings, in and of Itself, is Not a Feeling of Succession”’, Rashbrook) claim, to paraphrase Martin (399), that inheritance best characterises how our temporal experience seems to initial reflective intuition. For this reason, Phillips takes the principle to form part of our naïve view of temporal experience. An opposing group of theorists object that inheritance is subject to empirical counter-example. This article surveys such challenges. Section 2 considers Grush's case against inheritance based on postdiction. Section 3 examines Watzl's anti-inheritance argument based on silencing effects. Finally, Section 4 explores a number of alleged counter-examples proposed by Lee (‘Temporal Experience and the Temporal Structure of Experience’). Section 1 provides essential background to the debate. (shrink)
A familiar and enduring controversy surrounds the question of whether our phenomenal experience “overflows” availability to cognition: do we consciously see more than we can remember and report? Both sides to this debate have long sought to move beyond naïve appeals to introspection by providing empirical evidence for or against overflow. Recently, two notable studies—Bronfman, Brezis, Jacobson, and Usher and Vandenbroucke, Sligte, Fahrenfort, Ambroziak, and Lamme —have purported to provide compelling evidence in favor of overflow. Here I explain why the (...) data from both studies are wholly consistent with a “no overflow” interpretation. Importantly, when framed purely in representational or informational terms, this “no overflow” interpretation agrees with the interpretations respectively offered by both Bronfman et al. and Vandenbroucke et al.. The difference only emerges when additional assumptions are made concerning which representations correspond to elements in consc.. (shrink)
It is obvious both that some changes are too small for us to perceive and that we can perceive constant motion. Yet according to Fara, these two facts are in conflict, and one must be rejected. I show that conflict arises only from accepting a `zoëtrope conception' of change experience, according to which change experience is analysed in terms of a series of very short-lived sensory atoms, each lacking in dynamic content. On pain of denying the phenomenologically obvious, we must (...) reject the zoëtrope conception. I offer an alternative account, according to which the dynamic content of our experience at short timescales is metaphysically dependent on the content of experience over longer timescales. Moreover, at short timescales such content is purely determinable. (shrink)
Seeing is not believing, contrary to what popular idioms might claim. But what exactly is the difference? This question is the focus of The Border Between Seeing and Thinking, the long-awaited monograph by philosopher Ned Block.
Critics have long complained that naive realism cannot adequately account for perceptual illusion. This complaint has a tendency to ally itself with the aspersion that naive realism is hopelessly out of touch with vision science. Here I offer a partial reply to both complaint and aspersion. I do so by showing how careful reflection on a simple, empirically grounded model of illusion reveals heterodox ways of thinking about familiar illusions which are quite congenial to the naive realist.
Tradition has it that, although we experience darkness, we can neither hear nor hallucinate silence. At most, we hear that it is silent, in virtue of lacking auditory experience. This cognitive view is at odds with our ordinary thought and talk. Yet it is not easy to vouchsafe the perception of silence: Sorensen‘s recent account entails the implausible claim that the permanently and profoundly deaf are perpetually hallucinating silence. To better defend the view that we can genuinely hear and hallucinate (...) silence, we must reject the austere picture of conscious experience which underpins the cognitive theory. According to that picture, conscious experience is a simple relation between subjects and objects. In the absence of an object, there is no relation, and so no experience. By enriching this picture, room can be found for the experience of silence. I explore this idea in two phases. First, I defend the thought that we can hear and hallucinate certain forms of silence, such as pauses, in virtue of experiencing contrastive sounds. Second, I draw on Moore‘s analysis of sensation to suggest that simply experiencing silence is a special form of objectless consciousness. I offer two ways of fleshing out this idea. According to the first, auditory experience possesses a temporal field within which the absence of sounds can be perceived. According to the second, purely Moorean account, it is our capacity to listen in the absence of sounds that underlies the phenomenon of experiencing silence. (shrink)
A wealth of cases – most notably blindsight and priming under inattention or suppression – have convinced philosophers and scientists alike that perception occurs outside awareness. In recent work (Phillips 2016a, 2018; Phillips and Block 2017, Peters et al. 2017), I dispute this consensus, arguing that any putative case of unconscious perception faces a dilemma. The dilemma divides over how absence of awareness is established. If subjective reports are used, we face the problem of the criterion: the concern that such (...) reports underestimate conscious experience (Eriksen 1960, Holender 1986, Peters and Lau 2015). If objective measures are used, we face the problem of attribution: the concern that the case does not involve genuine individual-level perception. Quilty-Dunn (2019) presents an apparently compelling example of unconscious perception due to Mitroff et al. (2005) which, he contends, evades this dilemma. The case is fascinating. However, as I here argue, it does not escape the dilemma’s clutches. (shrink)
Sidney Morgenbesser brought to attention cases of the following form: (MC1) Chump tosses an indeterministic coin and, whilst it is in mid-air, calls heads. The coin lands tails, and Chump loses. His betting was causally independent of the coin’s fall. Chump seems right to say: ‘If I had bet tails, I would have won.’1 (MC2).
Olson (2009) argues that time does not pass because (i) if it did it would have to pass at some rate, and (ii) there is no rate at which it could pass. This paper exposes a confusion about the nature of rates upon which this argument rests.
We are no less directly acquainted with the temporal structure of the world than with its spatial structure. We hear one word succeeding another; feel two taps as simultaneous; or see the glow of a firework persisting, before it finally fizzles and fades. However, time is special, for we not only experience temporal properties; experience itself is structured in time. -/- Part One articulates a natural framework for thinking about experience in time. I claim (i) that experience in its experiential (...) aspect has a realistically conceived temporal structure; (ii) that our judgements about that structure always go via judgements about the temporal structure of the apparent objects of perception; and (iii) that a subject undergoing perceptual experience of a given experiential kind is always in a position to know that they are undergoing experience of that kind simply in virtue of so undergoing. On this basis, I argue that the temporal structure of experience cannot systematically come apart from the temporal structure of its objects. -/- Part Two treats four puzzles relating to our experience of time. The first is Dennett’s notorious discussion of masking and apparent motion phenomena. The second is the traditional debate regarding the very possibility of perceiving temporal properties. The third is Fara’s recent contention that standard explanations of our experience of slow changes preclude us from perceiving constant motion. A common reaction to these three puzzles is to reject some element of the naïve picture of temporal experience developed in Part One. I resolve them instead by showing how each arises from mistakenly thinking that experience is homoeomerous down to very short durations or instants. That is, thinking that we can analyse experience into a series of independent short slices, and explain the nature of the stream of consciousness in terms of those slices. The final chapter discusses a fourth puzzle about visual motion perception which I diagnose as driven by a rather different, but equally misguided way of thinking about vision. (shrink)
Duration distortions familiar from trauma present an apparent counterexample to what we might call the naive view of duration perception. I argue that such distortions constitute a counterexample to naiveté only on the assumption that we perceive duration absolutely. This assumption can seem mandatory if we think of the alternative, relative view as limiting our awareness to the relative durations of perceptually presented events. However, once we recognize the constant presence of a stream of non-perceptual conscious mental activity, we can (...) provide an attractive, purely relative account of temporal distortions quite consistent with the naive view. I also consider (and reject) a second empirical challenge to the naive view arising from the so-called ‘oddball effect’. I conclude by tentatively pointing to further empirical data, traditionally accounted for in terms of an internal clock model of timing, which, I suggest, may be understood more illuminatingly by appeal to the idea that we perceive duration in part relative to concurrent non-perceptual mental activity. (shrink)
The naïve view of temporal experience (Phillips, in: Lloyd D, Arstila V (eds) Subjective time: the philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of temporality, forthcoming-a) comprises two claims. First, that we are perceptually aware of temporal properties, such as succession and change. Second, that for any temporal property apparently presented in experience, our experience itself possesses that temporal property. In his paper ‘Silencing the experience of change’ (forthcoming), Watzl argues that this second naïve inheritance thesis faces a novel counter-example in the form (...) of the striking motion silencing effects recently demonstrated by Suchow and Alvarez (Curr Biol 21(2):140–143, 2011). Here I clarify the form which any counter-example to naïve inheritance must take. I then explain how, on a plausible, rival ‘crowding’ interpretation of Suchow and Alvarez’s data, motion silencing poses no more of a threat to naïve inheritance than standard cases of change blindness. (shrink)
Sainsbury argues that the nineteenth century case of Maurice v. Judd, in which the jury apparently ruled that whales are fish, presents a paradox whose ‘resolution will require carefully formulated metasemantic principles’ (2014: 5). I argue that Sainsbury misconstrues what is fundamentally at issue in the court room. The substantive disagreement (and so verdict) does not concern whether whales are fish but rather the intended meaning of the phrase ‘fish oil’ as employed in a statute authorizing the appointment of ‘fish (...) oil’ inspectors. So conceived, Maurice v. Judd contains no paradox. (shrink)
Experience is inescapably temporal. But how do we experience time? Temporal experience is a fundamental subject in philosophy – according to Husserl, the most important and difficult of all. Its puzzles and paradoxes were of critical interest from the Early Moderns through to the Post-Kantians. After a period of relative neglect, temporal experience is again at the forefront of debates across a wealth of areas, from philosophy of mind and psychology, to metaphysics and aesthetics. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of (...) Temporal Experience is an outstanding reference source to the key debates in this exciting subject area and represents the first collection of its kind. Comprising nearly thirty chapters by a team of international contributors, the _Handbook_ is organised into seven clear parts: Ancient and early modern perspectives Nineteenth and early twentieth-century perspectives The structure of temporal experience Temporal experience and the philosophy of mind Temporal experience and metaphysics Empirical perspectives Aesthetics Within each part key topics concerning temporal experience are examined, including canonical figures such as Locke, Kant and Husserl; extensionalism, retentionalism and the specious present; interrelations between temporal experience and time, agency, dreaming, and the self; empirical theories of perceiving and attending to time; and temporal awareness in the arts including dance, music and film. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Temporal Experience is essential reading for students and researchers of philosophy of mind and psychology. It is also extremely useful for those in related fields such as metaphysics, phenomenology and aesthetics, as well as to psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists. (shrink)
Yagisawa (2005) considers two old arguments against the existence requirement. Both arguments are signiﬁcantly less appealing than Yagisawa suggests. In particular, the second argument, ﬁrst given by Kaplan (1989: 498), simply assumes that existence is contingent (§1). Yagisawa’s ‘new’ argument shares this weakness. It also faces a dilemma. Yagisawa must either treat ‘at @’ as a sentential operator occupying the same grammatical position as ‘∼’ or as supplying an extra argument place. In the former case, Yagisawa’s argument faces precisely the (...) problems he concedes that Kaplan’s argument does (§2). In the latter case, though the argument does not face these problems, it renders the sense in which things exist contingently no threat to (E) properly understood (§3). (shrink)
Strong or Pure Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its Intentional content. Strong or Pure Anti-Intentionalism is the claim that the phenomenal character of any perceptual experience can be exhaustively characterized solely by reference to its non-Intentional properties. In Chapters One and Two, I consider how best to delineate the opposition between these positions. I reject various characterizations of the distinction, in particular, that it can be (...) captured in modal terms. Pure Intentionalist and Pure Anti-Intentionalist accounts can in fact share a modal profile. The most fundamental way of distinguishing Intentionalism from Anti-Intentionalism is in terms of the Intentionalist claim that experiences have contents with truth or satisfaction conditions. Characterized in this way, Intentionalism is committed to the claim that perceptual experience exhibits a certain kind of generality in that perceptual experiences essentially present their objects as being certain general ways. In contrast, the anti-Intentionalist denies that talk of seeing objects as certain kinds of object or as particular objects of those kinds provides a characterization of any aspect of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. Anti-Intentionalist theories must, therefore, account for phenomenal character wholly in terms of particularist properties. In Chapters Three and Four, I argue that neither of these pure views of experience can do justice to the phenomenology of our ordinary perceptual encounters with the world. In Chapter Three, I contend that Pure Anti- Intentionalism, at least in the form of Bill Brewer’s Object View, fails to provide a satisfactory account of the phenomenology of aspect shifts and continuous aspect perception. Furthermore, I argue that the Object View’s accounts of perceptual illusion are ill-motivated and fundamentally unsatisfactory. In Chapter Four, I argue that Pure Intentionalism is inconsistent with the phenomenologically evident fact that experiences are durational events which unfold over time. Accordingly, the assumption that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience must be wholly characterized in terms of one kind of property, be it Intentionalist or non-Intentionalist, should be rejected. Any plausible theory of experience must appeal to different kinds of phenomenal property. In Chapter Five, I defend a view which does just this: the Catholic View of experience. The Catholic View claims that the phenomenal character of any mature human experience must be characterized in terms of both particularist and Intentional properties. I conclude by showing how this account avoids the most serious criticisms that have been levelled against the idea of non-representational, or ‘given’ elements in experience. (shrink)
A Martian reading contemporary work on perception might be forgiven for thinking that humans had only one sense: vision. Witness the title of one popular recent collection: Vision and mind: selected readings in the philosophy of perception. Our obsession with sight is stifling. It leads to distorted vision-based models of the other senses, and it means that the distinctive puzzles raised by non-visual modalities are routinely neglected. With this pioneering and long-overdue collection of essays on auditory perception, Nudds and O’Callaghan (...) aim to start correcting this state of affairs. They deserve much praise, not least for their own substantial contributions and splendid introduction. (shrink)
I develop a seeming antinomy in relation to the question, Do natural kind properties, strictly speaking, characterize the phenomenology of experience? Or, in Peacockean terms, Are natural kind concepts observational? On the one hand, naïve descriptions of experience are rich descriptions, often characterizing our experience in terms of the presence of natural kinds. Thus, negative answers to such questions falsify how our experience seems to us. On the other hand, attributing rich contents to experience forces us to treat certain matching (...) experiences as illusions or, in Peacockean terms, purely perceptual errors. In both cases this is an implausible application of these notions, for, in such cases, all the properties seemingly being picked up on by the visual system are instantiated. The intractability of this apparent antinomy motivates a contextualist resolution: How rich a description it is appropriate to give of a stretch of someone’s experiential life depends on the context we are in. (shrink)
How should the Na¨ıve Realist who eschews representational percep- tual content account for illusions? Bill Brewer has recently proposed that illusions should be treated solely in terms of post-experiential misjudgement.