The Contents of Visual Experience

By Susanna Siegel | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
How Can We Discover the Contents
of Experience?

I’VE ARGUED THAT VISUAL PERCEPTUAL EXPERIENCES HAVE CONTENTS. But which contents do they have?

The question has two aspects. First, there are a number of abstract objects that contents could be, corresponding to different kinds of propositions, and we can ask which such abstract objects are best for characterizing the contents of experience. Second, no matter which such abstract objects turn out to be best for this, we can also ask which properties things look to have when we see them. Let us examine each of these aspects in a bit more detail.

Propositions themselves can be structured or unstructured, and there are different ways of being structured. For instance, purely Russellian propositions have a structure akin to syntax, and their elements are objects and properties. Alternatively, Fregean propositions are structured by a concatenation of modes of presentation of objects and properties. Unstructured propositions are sets of possible worlds, or sets of centered worlds. And there are variants of these proposals as well. When we ask which contents experiences have, part of what we’re asking is which abstract objects best characterize how things look to us when we have visual experiences. So what’s most important to consider when comparing proposals about different kinds of propositions is what sort of facts about accuracy conditions and phenomenal character each kind of abstract object could be invoked to explain.

No matter which kinds of abstract objects turn out to be best for characterizing experiences, properties will figure in these contents in one way or another: as properties had by things in the possible (centered) worlds that constitute an unstructured proposition, as

-77-

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The Contents of Visual Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Philosophy of Mind Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I- Contents 17
  • Chapter 1- Experiences 19
  • Chapter 2- The Content View 27
  • Chapter 3- How Can We Discover the Contents of Experience? 77
  • Part II- Properties 97
  • Chapter 4- Kinds 99
  • Chapter 5- The Visual Experience of Causation 117
  • Part III- Objects 141
  • Chapter 6- The Role of Objects in Visual Experience 145
  • Chapter 7- Subject and Object in the Contents of Experience 175
  • Chapter 8- The Strong Content View Revisited 207
  • References 211
  • Index 220
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