The Dennes Room

Philosophy 290-2

Spring 2019

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-2 Graduate Seminar: Visual Experience Noë W 2-4 Moses 234

The topic of this seminar is the nature of visual experience and its objects. The course will be organized around thinking through the place of pictures and pictoriality in our theorizing about vision.

In part 1 we will consider thinkers who advance some version of a picture conception of seeing (Leonardo, Marr, Jesse Prinz, various neuroscientists) and also those who criticize picture conceptions (Gibson, Dennett, Noë).

In part II, we will turn to alternative accounts of visual experience and its relation to pictoriality. We will read Merleau-Ponty, and perhaps also Dretske, Siegel, and Block, among others.

In the final part of the course I will present new work advancing the idea that vision is pictorial after all, but in a way that has not been previously realized. Among the upshots of this view are: 1) Part of what explains widespread disagreement among philosophers and cognitive scientists about the nature of visual experience is that visual experience, surprising as this sounds, has no stable nature; 2) In particular, visual experience is not a biological phenomenon; when it comes to visual experience, biology and culture are entangled; 3) The problem of visual experience is an aesthetic problem. This last point is both novel and controversial and to understand it we must investigate not only vision and visual experience, but also the nature of the aesthetic and the problem of art.

This is a provisional description of the seminar. I am continuing to refine the syllabus.

This seminar is for philosophy graduate students. However, I welcome students of different levels and from other departments provided they have suitable background. Interested students should plan on attending the first meeting.