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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ways of appearing: Experience and its phenomenology
by Vuletic, Milos, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2015, 146; 3725603
Abstract (Summary)

Perceptual experience is an invaluable guide to our cognition of the world: (i) experience helps make thoughts about mind-independent objects possible, and (ii) experience helps make thoughts about mind-independent objects reasonable. My dissertation aims to answer the question: how should we account for experience if we are to do justice to its rational role in cognition? I argue that neither of the two dominant contemporary models of experience is satisfactory: experience as representation and experience as acquaintance. Experience should be understood as a matter of various items being present to the experiencing subject. Crucially, I propose an account of perceptual error in terms of the presence of unreal senseimages (in hallucination) and presentational tropes (in illusion).

First I argue against treating experience as a representational state. I show that such treatments require a strong relation to obtain between experience and content; I argue that the strong relation cannot be sustained. I show, in particular, that experience is not best understood as a state in which properties are attributed to objects or in which concepts are employed. Experience should instead be treated as a matter of a relation of subjects to objects and their properties.

Next, I argue against the acquaintance-based relational approaches to experience. These accounts do not treat illusion plausibly; they cannot sustain two basic facts: that an object can exhibit different appearances and that different objects can exhibit identical appearances. In response to this problem I posit a weaker perceptual relation: in experience certain items are present to the subject. Presence does not entail knowledge of items present.

Finally, I offer an improved relationalist approach to perceptual error. I endorse the idea that in hallucination there are items—unreal sense-images—present to the subject. However, I reject the proposal to treat illusions in the same way: presence of sense-images in illusion makes the presence of misperceived objects redundant. Instead, I propose that presentational tropes are present in illusion. Presentational tropes are relational particulars that require both a subject and an experienced object for their existence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gupta, Anil
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Epistemology, Philosophy
Keywords: Experience, Perception, Phenomenology, Presentational tropes, Relationalism, Representationalism
Publication Number: 3725603
ISBN: 978-1-339-09959-0
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