</b>This commentary focuses on shape constancy in vision and its relation to sensorimotor knowledge. I contrast “Protean” and “Constancian” views about how to describe perspectival changes in the appearance of an object’s shape. For the Protean, these amount to changes in apparent shape; for Constance, things are not merely judged, but literally appear constant in shape. I give reasons in favor of the latter view, and argue that Noë’s attempt to combine aspects of both views in a “dual aspect” account (...) does not manage to avoid an unacceptable attribution of contradictory content to visual appearance. I argue also that my position here actually fits better with Noë’s critique of a “snapshot” conception of visual appearance than his own interpretation of visual constancy, and better supports his claim that experiential content is constituted by the exercise of sensorimotor understanding. (shrink)
I examine the prospects of using Hurlburt's DES method to justify his very 'thin'view of experience, on which visual experience is so infrequent as to be typically absent when reading and speaking. Such justification would seem to be based on the claim that, in DES 'beeper' samples, subjects often deny they just had any visual experi-ence. But if the question of 'visual experience' is properly construed, then it is doubtful they are deny-ing this. And even if they were, that would (...) not generally warrant over-turning belief in the abundance of one's own visual experience. I defend use of non-DES introspective judgments in reaching this conclusion. These are no more dubious overall than the near-term ret-rospective judgments in response to open-ended prompts employed in DES. Moreover, DES itself needs to presuppose subjects enjoy an introspective competence not confined to their beeper reports. The true power of DES to revise introspection thus lies in its interview por-tion. This view is further supported by considering Hurlburt's and Schwitzgebel's discussion of detail in visual imagery. Introspectively based conceptions of experience should be improved and corrected, not by means of a supposedly privileged class of reports, but by questioning that clarifies distinctions and makes explicit the implications of what one says in making introspective judgments. My advocacy of this sort of 'Socratic introspection' leads me to broad agreement with many of Schwitzgebel's conclusions. But it also makes me regard myself as a 'proponent' of -- not a 'sceptic' about -- the use of introspection to study experience. (shrink)
This chapter reports the philosophy focusing mainly on just three foundational concerns. These are: the character of a phenomenological approach; its use to clarify the notion of phenomenal consciousness ; and its application to questions about a specifically sensory phenomenality and its ‘intentionality’ or ‘object-directedness’. Phenomenology involves the use of ‘first-person reflection’. The ways into the notion of phenomenality are elaborated. The ‘subjective experience’ conception of phenomenality uses a conception of experience on which this is something that coincides with the (...) subject's experience of it, and differs insofar as the subject experiences it differently. The conception of phenomenality combines subjective experience, subjective contrast, and subjective knowledge, elaborating on each of these to yield distinct but mutually reinforcing accounts. It then argues on phenomenological grounds that the character of sense experience makes it ‘objectual’ and susceptible to experiences of illusion and disillusion. (shrink)
The aims of this book are: to explain the notion of phenomenal consciousness in a non-metaphorical way that minimizes controversial assumptions; to characterize the relationship between the phenomenal character and intentionality of visual experience, visual imagery and non-imagistic thought; and to clarify the way in which conscious experience is intrinsically valuable to us. It argues for the legitimacy of a first-person approach to these issues--one which relies on a distinctively first-person warrant for judgments about one's own experience. Thought experiments are (...) employed in which one is asked to conceive of having various forms of blindsight, so as to make consciousness intellectually conspicuous by its absence in such hypothetical scenarios. It is argued that theories of mind that would commit us to denying either the conceptual or the metaphysical possibility of these scenarios neglect the occurrence of consciousness in this phenomenal sense. (shrink)
Woven into Dennett's account of consciousness is his belief that certain possibilities are not conceivable. This is manifested in his view that we are not conscious in any sense in which we can imagine that philosophers? ?zombies? might not be conscious, and also in his claims about ?Hindsight?, and what possibilities this can coherently suggest to us. If the possibilities Dennett denies none the less seem conceivable to us, then if he does not give us reason to think they are (...) actually incoherent, we ought to reject his theory, since it denies the intelligibility of the very notion we should want a theory of consciousness to discuss. I argue that Dennett does not provide us with convincing reasons of the relevant sort, and I suggest that his difficulty with the concept of consciousness is rooted in questionable epistemological assumptions which he fails to justify. (shrink)
There are general aspects of mental life it is reasonable to believe do not vary even when subjects vary in their first-person judgments about them. Such lack of introspective agreement gives rise to “phenomenological disputes.” These include disputes over how to describe the perspectival character of perception, the phenomenal character of perceptual recognition and conceptual thought, and the relation between consciousness and self-consciousness. Some supposethat when we encounter such disputes we have no choice but to abandon first-person reflection in philosophy (...) of mind in favor of a third-person methodology. Such reaction is unwarranted. A reasoned assessment of phenomenological disputes that relies on first-person reflection is explained, illustrated, and advocated. (shrink)
Both Ludwig and Thomasson question my claim that many phenomenal features are intentional features. Further, Ludwig raises numerous objections to my claim that higher order mental representation is not essential to phenomenal consciousness. While Thomasson does not share those objections, she wonders how my view permits me to make first-person knowledge of mind depend on phenomenal consciousness. I respond to these challenges, drawing together questions about the forms of mental representation, the phenomenal character of sensory experience, rational agency, and introspection.
Lycan is concerned that I fail to explain my sense of 'phenomenal consciousness' sufficiently, and that I would unjustifiably criticize his "inner sense" theory for consciousness neglect. In response, I argue that my explanation of what I mean provides an adequate basis for disambiguating and answering Lycan's questions about the relation of phenomenal consciousness to "visual awareness" and the like. While I do not charge Lycan's theory with consciousness neglect, I do argue it employs a notion of non-conceptual higher order (...) representation that has not been explained so as to make it clear we have warrant for applying it to our own experience. (shrink)
Levine suggests the following criticisms of my book. First, the absence of a positive account of first-person knowledge in it makes it vulnerable to eliminativist refutation. Second, it is a relative strength of the higher order representation accounts of consciousness I reject that they offer explanations of the subjectivity of conscious states and their special availability to first-person knowledge. Further, the close connection I draw between the phenomenal character of experience and intentionality is unwarranted in the case of both color (...) perception and conceptual thought. In response to Levine's critique, I argue that the eliminativist can be rebutted and higher-order representation theories found wanting, even without offering a positive account of first-person knowledge. Also, I note that I actually have begun to offer an account of this based on my conception of phenomenal consciousness. Finally, it will be seen that Levine's concerns do not undermine my views on color experience, conscious thought, and intentionality, once their justification and character are made clear. (shrink)
My response to Witmer comes in three sections: In the first I address concerns about my book's blindsight thought-experiment, remarking specifically on the role imagination plays in it, and my grounds for thinking that a first-person approach is valuable here. In Section Two I consider the relation of the thought-experiment to theses regarding possibility and necessity, and Witmer's discussion of ways of arguing for the impossibility of "Belinda-style" blindsight, despite its apparent conceivability. Finally, in Section Three, I consider Witmer's suggestion (...) that we build on my discussion of blindsight to support the thesis that consciousness is a hidden physical feature. (shrink)
Carruthers' "immediate availability" theory of consciousness is criticized on the grounds that it offers no reasonable alternative to asserting the metaphysical impossibility of spontaneous blindsight. In defense, Carruthers says he can admit a spontaneous blindsight that relies on unconscious behavioral cues, and deny only its possibility without such mechanisms. I argue: This involves him in an unwarranted denial of the possibility that conscious visual discrimination could depend on behavioral cues. We can conceive of blindsight without behavioral cuing; if we can, (...) then we should not accept Carruthers' denial of its metaphysical possibility without good reason. To warrant this denial it is not enough to hold that the concept of consciousness employed is purely "recognitional," and thus of no relevance to modal claims. The concept is not this cognitively primitive. (shrink)
[David Charles] Aristotle, it appears, sometimes identifies well-being (eudaimonia) with one activity (intellectual contemplation), sometimes with several, including ethical virtue. I argue that this appearance is misleading. In the Nicomachean Ethics, intellectual contemplation is the central case of human well-being, but is not identical with it. Ethically virtuous activity is included in human well-being because it is an analogue of intellectual contemplation. This structure allows Aristotle to hold that while ethically virtuous activity is valuable in its own right, the (...) best life available for humans is centred around, but not wholly constituted by, intellectual contemplation. /// [Dominic Scott] In Nicomachean Ethics X 7-8, Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of eudaimonia, primary and secondary. The first corresponds to contemplation, the second to activity in accordance with moral virtue and practical reason. My task in this paper is to elucidate this distinction. Like Charles, I interpret it as one between paradigm and derivative cases; unlike him, I explain it in terms of similarity, not analogy. Furthermore, once the underlying nature of the distinction is understood, we can reconcile the claim that paradigm eudaimonia consists just in contemplation with a passage in the first book requiring eudaimonia to involve all intrinsic goods. (shrink)
CharlesSiewert offers a persuasive argument to show that the presence of certain phenomenal features logically suffices for the presence of certain intentional ones. He claims that this shows that phenomenal features are inherently intentional. I argue that he has not established the latter thesis, even if we grant the logical sufficiency claim. For he has not ruled out a rival alternative interpretation of the relevant data, namely, that intentional features are inherently phenomenal.
Charles Sanders Peirce , the most important and influential of the classical American philosophers, is credited as the inventor of the philosophical school of pragmatism. The scope and significance of his work have had a lasting effect not only in several fields of philosophy but also in mathematics, the history and philosophy of science, and the theory of signs, as well as in literary and cultural studies. Largely obscure until after his death, Peirce's life has long been a subject (...) of interest and dispute. Unfortunately, previous biographies often confuse as much as they clarify crucial matters in Peirce's story. Ketner's new biographical project is remarkable not only for its entertaining aspects but also for its illuminating insights into Peirce's life, his thought, and the intellectual milieu in which he worked. (shrink)
The article focuses on the Philosophy of Freedom of the Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan (1815-1895) and on the attempt to reconcile freedom as the fundamental experience for the human being with the alleged necessitarianism that would result from the positive sciences. The notion of “fall” as it is found in the Christian tradition allows Secrétan to rediscover an original dimension from which we can conceive the laws of nature as contingent. It is space and time that impose their constraints (...) and lead to the mismatch between the different faculties (sensitivity, imagination, intelligence, will) that is constitutive for the human experience and that prevents us from “being at any moment the whole of ourselves”. A peculiarity of Secrétan’s conception of space is that he does not see it as a condition for the numerical plurality of human beings. (shrink)
In this chapter I discuss Charles Taylor's and Paul Ricoeur's theories of narrative identity and narratives as a central form of self-interpretation. Both Taylor and Ricoeur think that self-identity is a matter of culturally and socially mediated self-definitions, which are practically relevant for one's orientation in life. First, I will go through various characterisations that Ricoeur gives of his theory, and try to show to what extent they also apply to Taylor's theory. Then, I will analyse more closely (...) class='Hi'>Charles Taylor's, and in section three, Paul Ricoeur's views on narrative identity. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that moral realism does not, pace Charles Taylor, need “moral sources” or “constitutive goods”, and adding these concepts distorts the basic insights of what can be called “cultural” moral realism.1 Yet the ideas of “moral topography” or “moral space” as well as the idea of “ontological background pictures” are valid, if separated from those notions. What does Taylor mean by these notions?
In the introduction to his Philosophical Papers 1&2 Charles Taylor assures us that his work, while encompassing a range of issues, follows a single, tightly knit agenda. He claims that the central questions concern "philosophical anthropology". Taylor's work on these questions has been presented piecemeal, in the form of articles and papers, and the student has had to imagine what a systematic monograph by Taylor on philosophical anthropology would look like. Neither Hegel, Sources of the Self, Ethics of Authenticity, (...) Catholic Modernity nor Varieties of Religion Today, nor Taylor's forthcoming books on secularization and modern social imaginaries are such treatises on the ontology of the human being. Nicholas H. Smith's monograph Charles Taylor: Meaning, Morals and Modernity (Polity, 2002) puts forward a clear and well-argued assessment of Taylor's entire project, with details on his intellectual biography and political engagement. For the purposes of thinking through Taylor's work so far, this book is probably the best one around. It is divided into eight chapters: "Linguistic Philosophy and Phenomenology", "Science, Action and the Mind", "The Romantic Legacy", "The Self and the Good", "Interpretation and the Social Sciences", "Individual and Community", "Politics and Social Criticism", and "Modernity, Art and Religion". The chapters are thematically ordered, but the order of presentation follows roughly the temporal order of Taylor's career. In this review article, I will begin with what Smith identifies as Taylor's organizing idea, and then focus on Smith's presentation of Taylor's transcendental argumentation concerning 'human constants'. As exemplars, I will discuss two of the.. (shrink)