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Knowing how/ /we perceive

Ophelia Deroy

Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 05:00pm - 06:00pm

Institut Jean Nicod & Universit

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Most philosophical accounts of perceptual experience focus on what it is like to see a certain quality, for instance red, or to hear a certain sound. Less attention has been given to the "seeing" or "hearing" components of these experiences. We are apparently able to know not only /what/ we are experiencing (red) but also /how/ we are experiencing it, e.g. visually. In this talk, I explore different ways of accounting for the "modality" part of our experience by contrasting (a) the most commonly held phenomenal accounts vs. non experiential accounts and (b) direct vs. indirect accounts.
These accounts have to address two challenges: the first one can be framed along the lines of Frank Jackson's Mary case, and the second comes from the so-called "multimodal experiences" (O'Callaghan, forthcoming). These are basically cases where one and the same content is somehow "due to" several senses - for instance vision and audition in speech perception (see the McGurk effect, McGurk &McDonald, 1976, or Kuhl and Meltzoff, 1982). The puzzle arises as we want to count these cases as one, and not two or more experiences. This aspect can be illuminated by a closer look at recent data about multisensory interactions. Studies by Alsius et al. (2005, 2007) noticeably reveals more complexity in the way we come to diferentially apprehend the content and the sensory mode of our experience, which, I argue, should incline us toward an hybrid version of the non-experiential account.

Ophelia Deroy