Learning to see

Mind and Language (forthcoming)
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Abstract
The reports of individuals who have had their vision restored after a long period of blindness suggest that, immediately after regaining their vision, such individuals are not able to recognize shapes by vision alone. It is often assumed that the empirical literature on sight restoration tells us something important about the relationship between visual and tactile representations of shape. However, I maintain that, immediately after having their sight restored, at least some newly sighted individuals undergo visual experiences that instantiate basic shape phenomenology but which do not present (that is, neither represent nor involve acquaintance with) the corresponding shape properties. Consequently, the empirical literature on sight restoration tells us something important about the role that perceptual phenomenology plays in our perceptual awareness of an object’s properties—it tells us that the properties presented by perceptual experiences are not determined by or “built into” perceptual phenomenology. In addition, I maintain that the evidence concerning sight restoration suggests an alternative theory concerning the role that sensory phenomenology plays in our perceptual awareness of an object’s properties. Specifically, it suggests that, while not inherently representational, sensory phenomenal properties can serve as vehicles for the representation of an object’s properties.
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Archival date: 2019-10-02
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2019-10-02

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