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Ways of Appearing: Experience and its Phenomenology

Vuletić, Miloš (2015) Ways of Appearing: Experience and its Phenomenology. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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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 sense-images (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.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vuletić, Milošmiv10@pitt.eduMIV10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduAGUPTA
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberSchafer, Karlschaferk@pitt.eduSCHAFERK
Committee MemberMachamer, Peterpkmach@pitt.eduPKMACH
Date: 23 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 December 2014
Approval Date: 23 June 2015
Submission Date: 12 April 2015
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 145
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience; Perception; Phenomenology; Relationalism; Representationalism; Presentational tropes
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2015 15:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:27


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