627 pages, 39 b/w illustrations
The philosophy of perception is a microcosm of the metaphysics of mind. Its central problems – What is perception? What is the nature of perceptual consciousness? How can one fit an account of perceptual experience into a broader account of the nature of the mind and the world? – are at the heart of metaphysics. Rather than try to cover all of the many strands in the philosophy of perception, Vision and Mind focuses on a particular orthodoxy about the nature of visual perception.
The central problem for visual science has been to explain how the brain bridges the gap between what is given to the visual system and what is actually experienced by the perceiver. The orthodox view of perception is that it is a process whereby the brain, or a dedicated subsystem of the brain, builds up representations of relevant figures of the environment on the basis of information encoded by the sensory receptors. Most adherents of the orthodox view also believe that for every conscious perceptual state of the subject, there is a particular set of neurons whose activities are sufficient for the occurrence of that state. Some of the essays in Vision and Mind defend the orthodoxy; most criticize it; and some propose alternatives to it. Many of the essays are classics.
"Vision and Mind presents a case-study in constructive, empirically informed philosophical debate. This volume collects 23 major contributions covering a wide spectrum of approaches, from orthodox constructivism to ecological psychology, enactionism and beyond. It's essential reading for anyone interested in the nature of perception, the function of vision and the way the human mind makes contact with the world."
– Andy Clark, Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh
"Nöe and Thompson have assembled the most important modern philosophical classics on visual perception together with some recent cutting-edge philosophical and scientific work. The result is a model of what an anthology should be – at once a fine instructional text and a first-rate research and reference tool."
– David M. Rosenthal, Philosophy and Cognitive Science, City University of New York, Graduate Center
"This is a wonderfully interdisciplinary volume that addresses deep theoretical and philosophical questions about the nature of vision and visual experience. The diverse papers raise core issues not only about visual perception but as well about the nature of cognition and mind. Concerns about the objects, content, and ontology of vision and visual experience provide a lens for viewing those concerns about the mind in general. This volume will provide a valuable resource for researchers or students wishing to explore the nature of mind through the vehicle of visual perception"
– Robert van Gulick, Professor of Philosophy and Director, Cognitive Science Program, Syracuse University
"Timely, well-balanced between history and contemporary philosophical work, and with a good dose of relevant science, this anthology shows how philosophical and scientific thinking can – and indeed must – be intermixed for a fuller understanding of the nature of visual perception. A superb collection."
– Guven Guzeldere, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Psychological & Brain Sciences, Duke University
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Alva Noë is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley. He is the editor of Vision and Mind (MIT Press, 2002).