Nonconceptual content and the nature of perceptual experience

Macpherson, F. and Bermúdez, J.L. (1998) Nonconceptual content and the nature of perceptual experience. Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 6,



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Recent philosophy of mind and epistemology has seen an important and influential trend towards accounting for at least some features of experiences in content-involving terms. It is a contested point whether ascribing content to experiences can account for all the intrinsic properties of experiences, but on many theories of experiences there are close links between the ascription of content and the ways in which experiences are ascribed and typed. The issues here have both epistemological and psychological dimensions. On the one hand, a theory of experiential content has a fundamental role in explaining how knowledge of the world can be acquired through experience. On the other hand, there are important psychological questions about the phenomenology of experiences and the conditions under which content ascriptions are made. The debate about whether experiences have conceptual or nonconceptual content is highly relevant to both the epistemological and psychological issues. This is apparent in the work of Gareth Evans who is often cited as the first philosopher to propose a theory of nonconceptual content. This paper will explicate and examine Evans' theory. In particular, attention will be paid to Evans' claim that perceptually-derived information with nonconceptual content can only qualify as a perceptual experience when it serves as input to a thinking, concept-applying, and reasoning system. We will sketch out a theoretical approach to the nature of nonconceptual content that builds on Evans' insight but does not follow him in this restrictive claim.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Macpherson, Professor Fiona
Authors: Macpherson, F., and Bermúdez, J.L.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy
Publisher:The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Copyright Holders:© 1998 José Luis Bermúdez and Fiona Macpherson
First Published:First published in EJAP 6
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher

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