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Perception in Perspective

Schellenberg, Susanna (2007) Perception in Perspective. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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How can perception yield knowledge of the world? One challenge in answering this question is that one necessarily perceives from a particular location. Thus, what is immediately perceptually available is subject to situational features, such as lighting conditions and one's location. Nonetheless, one can perceive the shape and color of objects. My dissertation aims to provide an explanation for how this is possible. The main thesis is that giving such an explanation requires abandoning the traditional model of perception as a two-place relation between subjects and objects in favor of a model of perception as a three-place relation between subjects, objects, and situations.In a first part, I show that treating perception as a three-place relation allows one to embrace the motivations for phenomenalism and indirect realism by recognizing that objects are presented a certain way, while preserving the intuition that subjects directly perceive objects. Second, it allows one to acknowledge that perceptions are not just individuated by the objects they are of, but by the way those objects are presented given the situational features. In a second part, I spell out the consequences of the situation-dependency of perception for perceptual content. I argue that a view on which perception represents objects is compatible with the idea that perception is a matter of standing in relation to objects, if perceptual content is understood in terms of potentially gappy content schema. If one acknowledges that perception is both relational and representational, the problems of pure relationalist and pure intentionalist accounts can be avoided. In contrast to pure relationalism, such a view explains how veridical and hallucinatory experiences can be phenomenologically indistinguishable. Both experiences share a common content schema. But in contrast to pure intentionalism, the view explains how the content of these experiences differ. In the case of a veridical experience, the content schema is saturated by an object. In a hallucination, the content schema is gappy. My dissertation explores the implications of these ideas for the particularity of perception and the relation between perceptual consciousness, content, and attention.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduAGUPTA
Committee MemberGrush,
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberEngstrom, Stephenengstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Date: 26 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 September 2006
Approval Date: 26 June 2007
Submission Date: 25 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
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: appearances; experience; gappy contents; gappy de re modes of presentation; particularity of perception; perception; relations; representations; situation-dependency of perception; situation-dependent properties; action; perceptual content
Other ID:, etd-04252007-173254
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:42
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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