Demystifying mind-independence

Husserl Studies 39 (1):25-45 (2023)
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Abstract

Both John Campbell and Quassim Cassam have argued that we perceptually experience objects as mind-independent (MI), purportedly solving a problem they refer to as “Berkeley’s Puzzle.” In this paper, I will consider the same topic from a Husserlian perspective. In particular, I will clarify the idea of MI and argue that there is, indeed, a sense in which we can perceptually experience objects as MI, while also making objections to Campbell’s and Cassam’s respective arguments to the same effect. In particular, I will argue that objects can be experienced as MI in the sense of the experience’s not being due to the malfunctioning of a perceptual organ, e.g., when one examines the ways in which the object displays itself, and gains confidence that there is, indeed, nothing the matter with one’s eyes. I will address the issue of MI from the perspective of Husserlian evidentialism, according to which perceptual content is conceived in terms of ways of perceptually exploring the object, thereby gaining evidence pertinent to the object and its properties, e.g., as when one takes a look at the object’s shape from a different angle, or scrutinizes its color in better lighting.

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Kristjan Laasik
Zhejiang University

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