Philosophy 596B: Philosophy of Mind

Perceptual Experience

David Chalmers

Class meetings: Tuesday 3:30-6pm, Social Sciences 311.


This seminar is devoted to the nature of perceptual experience. We will spend the first half of the seminar discussing views of the metaphysics of perceptual experience: sense-datum theories, direct realist theories, representationalist theories, and so on. The second half of the semester will be devoted to issues about the content of perceptual experience: nonconceptual vs conceptual content, Fregean vs Russellian content, the properties represented in experience, the richness of perceptual experience, and so on.


There is no textbook. Many readings will be available on the web, and other will be made available for photocopying in a folder in the department office.

Mailing list

I will set up a mailing list,, for class discussion.  Everyone enrolled in the class is expected to make reasonably regular contributions to this list: at least one reasonably substantial posting every week (you can miss three weeks without penalty), discussing issues arising from the readings, from class discussion, and from the mailing list itself.  Of course people are welcome and encouraged to post more often. These postings substitute for biweekly short papers of 1-2 pages each.


Assessment will be based most heavily on a final paper, and will also be based on in-class presentations, mailing list contributions, and class participation.


Here is a very approximate plan for the course, with associated readings.  This is very likely to be revised as things develop. 

Week 1 (Tue 1/21): Introduction

Week 2 (Tue 1/28): Sense-datum theories

Week 3 (Tue 2/4): Sellars on sense-datum theories

Week 4 (Tue 2/10): Austin on sense-datum theories

Week 5 (Tue 2/17): The causal theory of perception

Week 6 (Tue 2/24): Disjunctive theories of perception

  • Martin, The limits of self-awareness
  • Sturgeon, Visual experience
  • Week 7 (Tue 3/2): The intentionality of perception

    Week 8 (Tue 3/9): Representationalist theories of perception

    Week 8 (Tue 3/23): Representationalist theories II

    Week 10: (Tue 3/30):