Everything is Clear: All Perceptual Experiences are Transparent

Laura Gow (Cambridge)

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Abstract: The idea that perceptual experience is transparent is generally used by naïve realists and externalist representationalists to promote an externalist account of the metaphysics of perceptual experience. It is claimed that the phenomenal character of our perceptual experience can be explained solely with reference to the externally located objects and properties which (for the representationalist) we represent, or which (for the naïve realist) partly constitute our experience. Internalist qualia theorists deny this, and claim that the phenomenal character of our experience is internally constituted, and our relation to the objects and properties in our environment is merely causal. However, my concern in this paper is not with the metaphysical debate, but with transparency as a phenomenological feature of perceptual experience. Qualia theorists have presented a number of examples of perceptual experiences which, they claim, do not even seem to be transparent. They argue that it seems to subjects undergoing such experiences that they are aware of internally realised features of their experiences (or ‘qualia’). By making a distinction between perceptual seeming and cognitive seeming I am able to provide an alternative, and more nuanced, analysis of these alleged counter-examples. Transparency is revealed to be a phenomenological feature of all perceptual experiences.

Keywords: Perception, Perceptual experience, Transparency, Qualia, After-images, Blur Continue reading Everything is Clear: All Perceptual Experiences are Transparent