Blindsight and Qualities of Visual Perception Essay

Blindsight and Qualities of Visual Perception Essay

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Blindsight and Qualities of Visual Perception

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to defend a broad concept of visual perception, according to which it is a sufficient condition for visual perception that subjects receive visual information in a way which enables them to give reliably correct answers about the objects presented to them. According to this view, blindsight, non-epistemic seeing, and conscious visual experience count as proper types of visual perception. This leads to two consequences concerning the role of the phenomenal qualities of visual experiences. First, phenomenal qualities are not necessary in order to see something, because in the case of blindsight, subjects can see objects without experiences phenomenal qualities. Second, they cannot be intentional properties, since they are not essential properties of visual experiences, and because the content of visual experiences cannot be constituted by contingent properties.


Blindsight is often understood as supporting certain claims concerning the function and the status of the phenomenal qualities of visual perceptions. In this talk I am going to present a short argument to show that blindsight could not be understood as evidence for these claims. The reason is that blindsight cannot be adequately described as a special case of seeing. Consequently, it is not possible to draw inferences from it concerning the role of the phenomenal qualities for seeing.

Visual perceptions are supposed to have two sorts of content. First, they have intentional content which relates them as representations to the external world. The properties that constitute the intentional content are called representational or intentional qualities. Second, visual perce...

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... Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 15, 197 - 300

(5) D. Lewis (1986): Veridical Hallucination and Prosthetic Vision. In: D. Lewis: Philosophical Papers. New York et al., Vol. II, 273 - 290

(6) F. Dretske (1969): Seeing and Knowing. London, 4 - 77; F. Jackson (1977): Perception. A Representative Theory. Cambridge/Mass., 154 ff.; G.J. Warnock (1956): Seeing. In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 55, 201 - 218

(7) D. Armstrong (1968): A Materialist Theory of the Mind. London

(8) C. S. Peirce (1986): How to make our Ideas clear. In: Writings of Charles S. Peirce. C.J.W. Kloesel (ed.), Bloomington, Vol. III, 257 - 276; G. Ryle (1949): The Concept of Mind. London, Chapter 5

(9) D. Armstrong (1968): A Materialist Theory of the Mind. London, 209 ff.

(10) F. Dretske (1969): Seeing and Knowing. London, 77

(11) Dretske (1969), 20 ff. (See footnote 11)

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