Thinking and Perceiving: On the malleability of the mind

London: Routledge (2021)
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[File is the introduction to the monograph] Abstract to monograph How and whether thinking affects perceiving is a deeply important question. Of course it is of scientific interest: to understand the human mind is to understand how we best distinguish its processes, how those processes interact, and what this implies for how and what we may know about the world. And so in the philosopher’s terms, this book is one on both mental architecture and the epistemology of perception. But there is a more human interest. How we make contact with the world, and with one another, is of the most basic of importance. We can make both sensory contact and cognitive contact with the world. The first is traditionally supposed to be determined by the biological nature of our sensory systems, while the second is at least partly determined by us, what we have learned, our experiences, and so on. The most basic claim of the book is that this is mistaken and importantly so. Our sensory contact with the world can also change and in a way that is importantly affected by the cognitive contact that we have, or have had, with the world. Thinking does not just affect perceiving, thinking improves perceiving. If this is true, it changes not only how we should theorize the mind, it changes how we should understand, as individuals, our place in and contact with the world.

Author's Profile

Dustin Stokes
University of Utah


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