Cognitive Penetration and the Reach of Phenomenal Content

In Athanassios Raftopoulos & John Zeimbekis (eds.), Cognitive Penetrability. Oxford University Press (2015)
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This chapter critically assesses recent arguments that acquiring the ability to categorize an object as belonging to a certain high-level kind can cause the relevant kind property to be represented in visual phenomenal content. The first two arguments, developed respectively by Susanna Siegel (2010) and Tim Bayne (2009), employ an essentially phenomenological methodology. The third argument, developed by William Fish (2013), by contrast, is supported by an array of psychophysical and neuroscientific findings. I argue that while none of these arguments ultimately proves successful, there is a substantial body of empirical evidence that information originating outside the visual system can nonetheless modulate the way an object’s low-level attributes visually appear. Visual phenomenal content, I show, is not only significantly influenced by crossmodal interactions between vision and other exteroceptive senses such as touch and audition, but also by interactions between vision and non-perceptual systems involved in motor planning and construction of the proprioceptive body-image.

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Robert Briscoe
Ohio University


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