Make perception phenomenology again



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This project concerns the representational contents of experience generally and visual experience specifically. I justify and then employ a phenomenology-first methodology, where the most important test of a claim about perceptual content is whether it matches perceptual phenomenology. In the first chapter, I argue that the contents and phenomenology of an experience are identical, not merely correlated or explanatorily linked. I use this conclusion in the second chapter to argue that the content of visual experience is a property complex, which is itself structured from simpler properties and relations. Much of the defense of the property complex view consists in demonstrating how an experience with non-propositional content can play a robust cognitive and epistemic role in our mental lives. Despite compelling arguments to the contrary, I argue that we do not need to attribute propositional contents to visual experiences to explain how they reliably cause and justify true beliefs. The third chapter enlists George Berkeley as an ally. Berkeley appeals to a notion of association between non-propositional mental states in his writings on vision. I argue that this notion, properly understood, can be used today to explain away intuitions that lead some to posit higher-order visual contents.



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