Perceptual Presence and Imagination
This paper has three aims.
The first is to characterize a problem, that of
, and to argue that it is, indeed, a neglected problem that needs to be takenseriously in the philosophy of perception. The second aim is to evaluate a solution to thisputative problem, pioneered by Kant [1781; 1783] and refined by Sellars [Sellars, 1978]and Sir Peter Strawson [Strawson, 1971]. The third is to defend the kind of view I favourfrom the criticisms of John McDowell, who objects to a theory of this general kind duringhis treatment of Sellars’s work in McDowell’s Woodbridge lectures. I will argue that thekind of theory I favour would explain the phenomenological fact of perceptual presence,acknowledge the role of the productive imagination in direct perception while alsomaking a positive contribution to McDowell’s own views about perceptual intentionality.
1 What is the Problem?
The problem of perceptual presence is that of explaining how our perceptual experienceof the world gives us a sense of the presence of objects in perception over and above thesensory properties explicitly represented in perception. Objects possess other propertieswhich are, one might say, phenomenologically present even though they are sensorilyabsent. This problem seems to me comparatively neglected in contemporary philosophyof perception; here is a succinct expression of the problem by Alva Noë:
This paper was first presented to the conference ‘Knowledge and Imagination’ inAmsterdam, 2004 and a revised version to the workshop ‘Having the World in View:Themes from McDowell’ in 2007. For help with all versions of the paper I am grateful toDavid Bain, Julian Dodd, Richard Gaskin, Laurence Goldstein, Adrian Haddock, MichaelMorris, Murray Smith, Tom Stoneham, Ken Westphal and above all Kathryn Brown.