Are there irrational perceptual experiences?

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17 (2022)
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Abstract

I argue that there are no irrational visual experiences, if we mean just the experiences that one is having now, but there are irrational visual experiences, if we mean also the experiences that one has had in the past. In other words, I will be arguing that perceptual irrationality is a retrospective phenomenon. So as to further support the first conjunct of my thesis, and to contextualize it among contemporary discussions, I also critique Susanna Siegel’s proposal that one could be having an irrational experience, in the sense of a hijacked experience that has inherited a sub-threshold epistemic charge from a corrupt outlook. The present discussion is conducted from a Husserlian point of view, according to which perception is rational, rather than arational. I am, however, in this paper, not undertaking to defend the Husserlian view or the rationality of perception, or even to argue that the view I refer to as Husserlian is, in all aspects, the view that Edmund Husserl actually held. I aim merely to provide certain clarifications concerning the more specific topic of irrational visual experiences.

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Kristjan Laasik
Zhejiang University

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