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Abstract: Here's an old question in the philosophy of perception: here I am, looking at this pen [I hold up a pen in my hand]. Presumably I really am seeing this pen. Even so, I could be having an experience just like the one I am having without anything being there. So how can the experience I am having really involve direct awareness of the pen? It seems as though the presence of the pen is inessential to the way the experience is
Abstract: This paper contrasts three different schemes of reference relevant to understanding systems of perceptual representation: a location-based system dubbed "feature-placing", a system of "visual indices" referring to things called "proto-objects", and the full sortal-based individuation allowed by a natural language. The first three sections summarize some of the key arguments (in Clark, 2000) to the effect that the early, parallel, and pre-attentive registration of sensory features itself constitutes a simple system of nonconceptual mental representation. In particular, feature integration--perceiving something as being both F and G, where F and G are sensible properties registered in distinct parallel streams--requires a referential apparatus. Section V. reviews some grounds for thinking that at these earliest levels this apparatus is location-based: that it has a direct and nonconceptual means of picking out places. Feature-placing is contrasted with a somewhat more sophisticated system that can identify and track four or five "perceptual objects" or "proto-objects", independently of their location, for as long as they remain perceptible. Such a system is found in Zenon Pylyshyn's fascinating work on "visual indices", in Dana Ballard's notion of deictic codes, and in Kahneman, Treisman, and Wolfe's accounts of systems of evanescent representations they call "object files". Perceptual representation is a layered affair, and I argue that it probably includes both feature-placing and proto-objects. Finally, both nonconceptual systems are contrasted with the full-blooded individuation allowed in a natural language
Abstract: In Clark (2000), Austen Clark argues convincingly that a widespread view of perception as a complicated kind of feature-extraction is incomplete. He argues that perception has another crucial representational ingredient: it must also involve the representation of "sensory individuals" that exemplify sensorily extracted features. Moreover, he contends, the best way of understanding sensory individuals takes them to be places in space surrounding the perceiver. In this paper, I'll agree with Clark's case for sensory individuals (
Abstract: This paper defends two theses about sensory objects. The more general thesis is that directly sensed objects are those delivered by sub-personal processes. It is shown how this thesis runs counter to perceptual atomism, the view that wholes are always sensed indirectly, through their parts. The more specific thesis is that while the direct objects of audition are all composed of sounds, these direct objects are not all sounds—here, a composite auditory object is a temporal sequence of sounds (whereas a composite visual object is a spatial composite). Many composite objects are directly heard in the sense just mentioned. There is a great variety of such composite auditory objects—melodies, harmonies, sequences of phonemes, individual voices, meaning-carrying sounds, and so on. This diversity of auditory objects has an important application to aesthetics. Perceivers do not naturally or easily attend simultaneously to auditory objects that overlap in time. Yet, aesthetic appreciation depends on such an allocation of attention to overlapping objects
Abstract: You might reasonably surmise from the title of this paper that I will be discussing a theory of vision. After all, what is a theory of vision but a theory of how the world is connected to our visual representations? Theories of visual perception universally attempt to give an account of how a proximal stimulus (presumably a pattern impinging on the retina) can lead to a rich representation of a three dimensional world and thence to either the recognition of known objects or to the coordination of actions with visual information. Such theories typically provide an effective (i.e., computable) mapping from a 2D pattern to a representation of a 3D scene, usually in the form of a symbol structure. But such a mapping, though undoubtedly the essential purpose of a theory of vision, leaves at least one serious problem that I intend to discuss here. It is this problem, rather than a theory of vision itself, that is the subject of this talk
Abstract: This paper argues that a theory of situated vision, suited for the dual purposes of object recognition and the control of action, will have to provide something more than a system that constructs a conceptual representation from visual stimuli: it will also need to provide a special kind of direct (preconceptual, unmediated) connection between elements of a visual representation and certain elements in the world. Like natural language demonstratives (such as `this' or `that') this direct connection allows entities to be referred to without being categorized or conceptualized. Several reasons are given for why we need such a preconcep- tual mechanism which individuates and keeps track of several individual objects in the world. One is that early vision must pick out and compute the relation among several individual objects while ignoring their properties. Another is that incrementally computing and updating representations of a dynamic scene requires keeping track of token individuals despite changes in their properties or locations. It is then noted that a mechanism meeting these requirements has already been proposed in order to account for a number of disparate empiri- cal phenomena, including subitizing, search-subset selection and multiple object tracking (Pylyshyn et al., Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 48(2) (1994) 260). This mechanism, called a visual index or FINST, is brie
Abstract: I offer an explanation of how subjects are able to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects, given that subjects always perceive from a particular location. The argument proceeds in two steps. First, I argue that a conception of space is necessary to perceive the intrinsic spatial properties of objects. This conception of space is spelled out by showing that perceiving intrinsic properties requires perceiving objects as the kind of things that are perceivable from other locations. Second, I show that having such a conception of space presupposes that a subject represent her location in relation to perceived objects. More precisely the thesis is that a subject represents her location as the location from which she both perceives objects and would act in relation to objects were she to act. So I argue that perception depends on the capacity to know what it would be to act in relation to objects
Abstract: Recently the thesis that experience is fundamentally a matter of representing the world as being a certain way has been questioned by austere relationalists. I defend this thesis by developing a view of perceptual content that avoids the objections of austere relationalists. The main thesis of the paper is that on a relational understanding of perceptual content, the fundamental insights of austere relationalism do not compete with perceptual experience being representational. I argue that most austere relationalist objections to the thesis that experience has content are objections only against accounts of perceptual content on which perceptual relations to the world play no explanatory role. With austere relationalists, I will argue that perceptual experience is fundamentally relational. But against austere relationalists, I will argue that it is fundamentally both relational and representational
Abstract: What is the difference between perception and mere sensation? Take a typical perceptual experience, such as an experience of seeing a fish or a table, and a merely sensory experience, such as the experience of
Abstract: First, what it is for a sentient being to sense is for it to employ two distinct capacities: one for representing places-at-times; the other for representing "features" (60, cf. 70). Exercised together, the result is akin to feature-placing, which brings us to the second thesis: what sensory systems represent is that features are instantiated at place-times. Accordingly, sensory systems do not, for instance, attribute properties to objects, such as trees, tables, bodies, or persons (163)
Abstract: What is the difference between perception and mere sensation? Take a typical perceptual experience, such as an experience of seeing a fish or a table, and a merely sensory experience, such as the experience of ‘seeing stars’ or of enjoying a red phosphene (a phosphene is a kind of afterimage). One difference between these experiences is that in the first case, there is an external object that one sees. But this difference is not the only difference. On the face of it, typical perceptual experiences and mere sensations also differ in their phenomenal character. How can this difference be understood?
Abstract: The focus of this paper will be on the problem of perceptual presence and on a solution to this problem pioneered by Kant [1781; 1783] and refined by Sellars [Sellars, 1978] and Strawson [Strawson, 1971]. The problem of perceptual presence is that of explaining how our perceptual experience of the world gives us a robust sense of the presence of objects in perception over and above those sensory aspects of the object given in perception. Objects possess other properties which are, one might say, phenomenologically present even though they are admittedly sensorily absent. The general form of the solution to this problem that Kant developed seems to me to be a neglected resource in contemporary work on perceptual consciousness. Kant solves the problem of perceptual presence by appealing to that which he called the productive use of the imagination. This faculty of mind supplies schematic representations of the object of perception that explains a phenomenological sense of perceptual presence even of those features that are not, in a sense to be further clarified,