The Radical Conceptualization of Perceptual Experience

  • Joseph Runzo

Abstract

Perceptual experience does not consist in a mere passive reception of sensations which come ready-marked with their identities and interrelationships. A child sees an animal, where we see a camel, and a biologist might see a dromedary. I see a Picasso, you see the work of someone obsessed with blue; I hear noise, you hear a composition by John Cage. Thus, the content of our perceptual experience is, surely to some extent, structured by the conceptual resources which we possess. But to what extent? In this chapter I will defend the view, which I will call the ‘conceptualist’ view, that the possession of concepts is a necessary condition of all perceptual experience.

Keywords

Cage Rubber Smoke Defend Metaphor 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Fred I. Dretske, Seeing and Knowing (Chicago, 1969), p. 75.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In ‘Seeing’ (repr. in Perceiving, Sensing and Knowing, ed. by Robert J. Swartz, Garden City, NY, 1965, pp. 49–67)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. George Pitcher, A Theory of Perception (Princeton, 1971), p. 94: ‘The way things look (even in the phenomenal sense) to a perceiver is partially dependent on what his repertoire of concepts is…’.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    David Kelley, ‘The Specificity of Perception’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 40 (1980), p. 404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fred Dretske, ‘Simple Seeing’, in Body, Mind and Method, ed. by D. Gustafson and B. Tapscott (Boston, 1979), p. 3.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Nicholas Rescher, Conceptual Idealism (Oxford, 1973), p. 11.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Nelson Goodman discusses several particularly interesting examples in Chapter 5 of Ways of Worldmaking (Indianapolis, 1978).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Frank Jackson, Perception (Cambridge, 1977), p. 155.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    C. I. Lewis, Mind and the World Order (New York, 1956), pp. 48, 66, and 52.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    One such account can be found in Alvin Goldman’s ‘Perceptual Objects’, Synthese, Vol. 35 (1977), pp. 257–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. See Jaegwon Kim, ‘Perception and Reference Without Causality’, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 74 (1977), pp. 606–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 21.
    For instance, Thomas Kuhn notes this possible consequence with respect to rival scientific paradigms (Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions [Chicago, 1962], p. 116).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Joseph Runzo 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Runzo
    • 1
  1. 1.Chapman UniversityCaliforniaUSA

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