Nature's Providence: The Representational Role of Vision

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This paper presents a novel theory of what it is that makes vision a representational affair. Vision is a process of representation; a fact that does not depend on it being "contentfull" or "indirect". Even if it turns out that vision is direct and/or intrinsically "contentless", it is nevertheless defined by features that decisively make it count as a process or representation. The phenomenology of vision is key here: as we see, we are directly presented with aspects of the environment that are at various distances away from us. Through the process of vision, aspects of the environment that would otherwise still be unavailable or “absent”, are made (quasi-)available, or (quasi-)present. This already by itself makes vision deserving of the name ‘representational’, even if those distant aspects of the world are presented to us directly and contentless. In part I, I provide a bit of an overview of the relevant theoretical landscape, and I give my own take on how we may frame and approach some of the issues with respect to mental representation. Then, in part II, I argue that the representational features of vision must primarily be sought at the level of conscious experience. In part III, I elaborate on the two most common theories that are associated with the view that vision is ‘representational’, and proceed to show that there is in fact a third, more direct, way in which vision can be considered as essentially a process of representation. Finally, in part IV, I show that the kind of interaction problems that arise with the more traditional notions of representation also arise with this newer, more direct, notion.
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Archival date: 2015-06-12
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