Perceptual Aquaintance and Informational Content

In Miguens & Preyer (eds.), Consciousness and Subjectivity. Ontos Verlag. pp. 47--89 (2012)
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Many currently working on a Russellian notion of perceptual acquaintance and its role in perceptual experience (including Campbell 2002a, 2002b, and 2009 and Tye 2009) treat naïve realism and indirect realism as an exhaustive disjunction of possible views. In this paper, I propose a form of direct realism according to which one is directly aware of external objects and their features without perceiving a mind-dependent intermediary and without making any inference. Nevertheless, it also maintains that the qualitative character of perceptual experience is a feature of our internal states of sentient awareness and so is to be distinguished from the features of objects in the perceptual scene. On this proposal, we are pre-reflectively aware of the qualitative character of our sensations simply in virtue of having them, and we are non-inferentially aware of external objects and their features by being attuned to what the occurrence of our sensations tells us about the rest of the world. Consequently, we are presented with, and thus acquainted with, both the external objects and the qualitative character of our sensory experiences, albeit in very different ways. Drawing on resources from Perry (2001) and Searle (in draft), I explain how perceptual experience has this “two-faced presentational character”.
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