Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion

Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion

Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion

Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion

Synopsis

The idea of a disjunctive theory of visual experiences first found expression in J.M. Hinton's pioneering 1973 book Experiences. In the first monograph in this exciting area since then, William Fish develops a comprehensive disjunctive theory, incorporating detailed accounts of the three core kinds of visual experience--perception, hallucination, and illusion--and an explanation of how perception and hallucination could be indiscriminable from one another without having anything in common. In the veridical case, Fish contends that the perception of a particular state of affairs involves the subject's being acquainted with that state of affairs, and that it is the subject's standing in this acquaintance relation that makes the experience possess a phenomenal character. Fish argues that when we hallucinate, we are having an experience that, while lacking phenomenal character, is mistakenly supposed by the subject to possess it. Fish then shows how this approach to visual experience is compatible with empirical research into the workings of the brain and concludes by extending this treatment to cover the many different types of illusion that we can be subject to.

Excerpt

I suspect my future interests in the philosophy of mind may have been settled shortly after my birth when my father decided to name me after the Harvard psychologist/philosopher William James. Despite this, however, I didn’t actually discover this fascinating area until I was a firstyear undergraduate and was lucky enough to stumble upon two stimulating classes taught by Bob Kirk and Greg McCulloch. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to be able to go on to count both Bob and Greg as friends. I still communicate with Bob regularly and continue to learn a lot from our interactions. I still miss talking to Greg. I don’t think he ever realized just how much I benefited from our discussions—often late at night, over a beer—or how much they shaped my thoughts. And while I don’t think for a moment that he would have agreed with everything I say in these pages, I like to think that he would have concurred with its general direction.

My thinking about the nature of visual experience began to take its present shape when I discovered the works of John McDowell and Mike Martin. I still remember reading “Singular Thought and the Extent of Inner Space” and “The Transparency of Experience” in one (long) afternoon. It was a revelation. These papers opened my eyes to the potential of a disjunctive approach to visual experiences, an event that . . .

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