Book Chapter

Perception and the Vagaries of Experience



Millar A (2018) Perception and the Vagaries of Experience. In: Gersel J, Thybo Jensen R, Thaning M & Overgaard S (eds.) In the Light of Experience: New Essays on Perception and Reasons. Mind Association Occasional Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 189-212.

An adequate theory of perception would be Direct Realist in that it represents our perception of things in our surroundings to be routinely direct. This article considers what Direct Realism is and how it constrains a theory of sensory experience. Some Direct Realists—relationalists—hold additionally that, for instance, the visual experiences implicated in visual perceptions of our surroundings are essentially relational in that they are episodes of awareness of mind-independent objects. There are Direct Realists who are not relationalists. This discussion explores what is at issue between these different camps. Relationalists think that non-relationalists cannot make sense of the connection between perception and demonstrative thought. It is argued that the reasons commonly given for pessimism on this score are not good. A constructive proposal on behalf of non-relationalists is sketched. The discussion concludes by briefly considering whether the non-relationalist conception of experience enables us to make sense of empiricism.

demonstrative thought; direct realism; empiricism; experience; perception; relationalism

Title of seriesMind Association Occasional Series
Publication date28/06/2018
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationOxford

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Professor Alan Millar

Professor Alan Millar

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy