What Perky did not show

Analysis 72 (3):431-439 (2012)
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Abstract

Some philosophers take Perky's experiments to show that perceiving can be mistaken for visualizing and so that the two sometimes match in phenomenology. On Segal’s alternative interpretation Perky’s subjects did not consciously perceive the stimuli at all. I argue that even setting this alternative aside, Perky's results do not prove what the philosophers think. She showed her subjects, not the objects they were asked to visualise, but pictures of them. What they mistook for visualizing was not perceptual consciousness of stimuli, but pictorial consciousness. Once clear about the nature of the latter, we can see that Perky's results reveal nothing very surprising

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Robert Hopkins
New York University

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