What we could learn from the case of veridical perceptions
1. By having a veridical perception, I am (directly) aware of the real (objective) properties of the object (ordinary, mind-independent) of the perception. 2. By having any non-veridical perception, since either the object of the perception doesn’t have the properties that it seems to have or there is no object, I am not (directly) aware of any properties in either case. 3. By having any perception, I am not (directly) aware of anything other than the real properties of the object of the perception. 4. There are no apparent properties; therefore, there is no appearance.
If I am not directly aware of the real properties of the object of the perception by having a perception, but something else, there would be no sense in which we could claim that my perception is veridical. ◦ By “a veridical perception” I mean a perception through which I apprehend the real properties of the object of the perception, directly or indirectly; in other words, if I make a perceptual judgment directly based on the perception, my judgment would be correct.
The sense-datum theory holds that by having a veridical perception, I am not directly aware of the real properties of the object of the perception—what I am directly aware of is the properties of sense-data, which are apparent properties. In what sense could we claim that my perception is veridical?
I am indirectly aware of the real properties of the object of the perception by being directly aware of the properties of sense-data. The veridicality of the perception consists in the correspondence between the real properties of the object and the properties of sense-data.
By being directly aware of the apparent properties of sense-data, I might be indirectly aware of any real properties of any object. That is to say, the perception could be a non-veridical one of any object.
We might say that there is a certain kind of causal relation between the instantiation of the properties of sense-data and the instantiation of the real properties of the object of the perception.
1. We don’t usually say that by being directly aware of the properties the instantiation of which is an effect, I am indirectly aware of the properties the instantiation of which is the cause. 2. Being indirectly aware of the temperature by directly being aware of the readings of a thermometer is different—this sense of indirect awareness is special, it is an inference. 3. No causal relation could warrant a correspondence between the properties of sense-data and the real properties of the object of the perception. Quite the contrary, usually different properties are instantiated in the cause and the effect. (readings are different from temperature)
If I am only indirectly aware of the real properties of the object of the perception by being directly aware of the properties of sense-data in having a veridical perception, then in order to make sense of the claim that my perception is veridical, we have to have (1) and (2).
1.There is a certain kind of relation (probably causal) between the instantiation of the real properties of the object of the perception and the instantiation of the properties of sense- data that I am directly aware of in having the perception so that it is appropriate to say that my perception is of this object instead of other objects; 2.The sense-data instantiate the same properties as are instantiated by the object of the perception.
But then why do we need sense-data? ◦ We need them in order to explain illusions and hallucinations. We don’t have to, as would be explained below.
According to the adverbial theory of perception, in a perception, what we are directly aware of is the properties of the perceptual experience. It has the same problem as the sense-datum theory, namely, in no sense could we say that the perception is veridical.
If we are directly aware of the real properties of the object of the perception when we have a veridical perception, then the phenomenality of veridical perceptual experiences would provide us with no reason to postulate apparent properties. Since illusions and hallucinations could share the same phenomenality with veridical perceptions, the phenomenality of illusions and hallucinations provides with us no reason to postulate apparent properties. There are no apparent properties, therefore there is no appearance.
The distinction between P-consciousness and A-consciousness. Our perceptual experiences obviously are or could be A-conscious, and in this sense, we are aware of them. Call this kind of awareness “A-awareness”. They are also P-conscious, and in this sense, we are aware of the objects of them. Call this kind of awareness “P-awareness”
We are only P-aware of the object of an experience by having the experience; we are not P-aware of the experience itself (either its intrinsic or its relational properties) when having the experience. ◦ The phenomenality of an experience is how things appear (to a subject) in the experience, not how the experience appears (to the subject).
It might be thought that by introspection we could come to know what an experience is like (whatever that means), so an experience would appears in a certain way to the subject when the subject introspect on the experience. But, ◦ The description of how an experience is like is essentially the same as description of how things appears in the experience. ◦ The only difference consists in the self-awareness of the subject and probably also awareness of the existence of the experience qua a mental state—I am checking up my experience and this is how my experience is like.
A queer question. But it seems obvious that it is reflection that makes us self-aware and aware of the existence of an experience, not introspection. Then, what is introspection? It would be explained below.
In a veridical perception, the object of the perception also appears to me as so-and- such; nonetheless, I am directly aware of the real properties of the object, not any apparent properties. So, it seems that we have to account for the phenomenality of a veridical perceptual experience without appealing to the apparent properties (instantiated by sense data). But How?
The subjectivity of experience: one can only perceive from a certain point of view—the subjective point of view. The perspective to which an object appears is constitutive of the object’s appearing to be so- and-such. ◦ An object appears to be so-and-such only when appearing to a certain point of view. ◦ When being perceived from a certain point of view, an object appears to be so-and-such. ◦ How an object appears co-varies with the perspective. ◦ No object appears to be so-and such without appearing to a perspective.
Would a cubic object appears the same to a bat as it appears to me when the bat and I take the same spot when perceiving the object? One might think that the answer is negative, for the perceptual apparatus of bats is different from the perceptual apparatus of humans. But what if both of the bat’s perception and my perception are veridical? The cubic object has to appear cubic to the bat in order for its perception to be veridical, likewise in my case. Perceptual apparatus makes no difference on how things appear to the subject.
A perspective is located in a certain environment in which things are present. ◦ Since one has to perceive from a perspective, when one perceives, one perceives things as present. ◦ Further, things are perceived as present in an environment. ◦ Any change in the environment that affects the perspective would also cause a change on how things appear: angle, lighting condition, etc. The phenomenal presence—vividness, etc.— is thus explained by the perspective.
Two key elements of phenomenality—things appear to be so-and-such and things are perceived as present—results from the subjectivity of experience. The Chinese translation of the term ‘phenomenal’ is very revealing— 现象. ‘ 现 ’means presently appear, ‘ 象 ’means so-and-such. Phenomenality consists in things presently appearing to be so-and-such. (“Presently” is in fact redundant as “selective” in “selective attention.)
In a veridical perception, a red object appears red to me. But under abnormal lighting conditions, it might appear orange to me, in which case I would have a non-veridical perception. In both cases, it seems that my perceptual experiences are of the object, even though it appears differently. If there is no distinction between appearance and reality, as I have argued, I would not be aware of the redness of the object in the non-veridical perception even though I am aware of it in the veridical perception. If I am not aware of the redness of the object, how does it appear orange to me?
The natural answer is: I perceive it as orange. Or, I perceptually represent it as orange. That an object appears so-and-such to me means that I perceptually represent the object as so-and-such. “So-and-such” is a description of the representational content of my perception.
It is obvious that our perceptual judgments have representational content. It is obvious that we make perceptual judgments based on our perceptual experiences, that is, perceptual experiences are the way through which perceptual judgment reach the world. If our perceptual experiences have no representational content, it would be mysterious how our perceptual judgments acquire representational content.
Perception consists in representing from the subjective point of view. The phenomenality consists in the representational content pertained to the subjective point of view.
If I am right, then a picture would have phenomenality, as it represents from a certain point of view. This is, I believe, true. But notice that this doesn’t mean a picture appears so-and-such to us. A picture on it’s own right has phenomenality, it doesn’t have to appear to anything else in order to be phenomenal.
When the object appears orange to me, I am certainly aware of something, orange-ness or something’s being orange. If I am aware of something, that something has to exist. I am experiencing the nature of my perceptual experience, I directly know it. This nature is left unexplained by functionalism or its ilk.
How do I come to know that I am aware of something in the case of an illusion? By introspection? If introspection is looking into one’s own mind, then it cannot be introspection by which one come to know that one is aware of something. In order to know that one is aware of something, one has to know that one stands a certain relation to another object and therefore, one has to know oneself, the object, and the relation. Introspection cannot do that.
It is by reflection that one comes to know that one stands a certain relation to other things. That I am aware of something in my perceptual experience is equivalent to that I have an experience, whose representational content is so-and-such with ‘so-and-such’ describing the something. Introspection helps provide the representational content of the experience to the perceptual judgment, and therefore to knowledge by reflection.
Usually when we are not reporting about our perceptual experiences, we make perceptual judgments directly based on them, like: The apple is orange. Perceptual judgments incorporate the representational content of perceptual experiences based on which they are made, encoding them in lexical form. I also call it the process of conceptualization. The process of incorporation is introspection.
In order to report about our perceptual experiences, we have to conceptualize the representational content of them, we have to introspect. In this sense, the representational content of perceptual experiences is available for perceptual judgments and what follows. Our perceptual experiences are A-conscious. We are A-aware of them.
When we see a picture, if we don’t pay attention to the fact that we are looking at a picture, it would seem that we are looking at the thing pictured. But we are only aware of the picture, or the pictured thing, not the thing pictured. Even if we do pay attention, given the representational fact, namely, that a picture represents phenomenally, we might confuse the pictured thing with the thing pictured. The same occurs to perceptual experiences.
We have to introspect from the same point of view as that of perceptual experiences. So, how the things appear in perceptual experiences, which involves a point of view, would be accessed as is without any adjustment in accord with the point of view. If you looking at a picture from the exact same point of view as the picture is taken from, the phenomenality of your experience of the pictured thing would be exactly the same as of that of the thing pictured.
When one introspect, one doesn’t represent the perceptual experiences, or their content. This is not like when one looks at a picture, as then one is perceptually represent the pictured thing. Introspection has no phenomenality, it might seem to have, but that is because it incorporates the representational content of perceptual experiences from the exact same perspective as that of perceptual experiences.
When one so claim, one has already reflected, and therefore, introspected. By introspection, one accesses the representational content of one’s perceptual experiences. The representational content of one’s perceptual experiences would make it seem that there is something presented in experiences, that is the phenomenality.
The funny thing is, whenever one is trying to get clear what one’s experience is like, one would reflect without noticing that one is reflecting. One would then introspect. Given the transparency of experience, it would seem that one is P-aware of things, as one is indeed P- aware of things in the case of veridical perceptions. One is only A-aware of the represented things, which results from one’s P-awareness of things represented in the case of veridical perceptions. In the case of non-veridical perceptions, since they may share the same phenomenality with a veridical perception, the same thing happens.
One can represent something as so-and-such without the thing being so-and-such. If perception represents, there seems to be no necessity that it has direct contact with the outside world.
The necessity is located in the very notion of representation. ◦ The state of a sensory system could realize a perceptual representation only it has evolved in an environment such that there is a normative connection established between a state of the world and the representation. ◦ The normativity consists in that the system ought to produce veridical perceptions when it is functioning well.
Illusions and hallucinations are representations only in a derivative sense. They are realized by the same sensory states that would realize veridical perceptions when the system is functioning well.
A red object may appear red to X but appear green to Y while both X and Y would judge that the object is red. RED as a sensory concept vs. RED as a public concept. The very hypothesis is problematic: Are both X and Y’s perceptions of the object is veridical? They are, but they have different feelings.
What are these feelings? Have you already begged the question against intentionalism? Notice that the nature of perceptual experience is representing from the subjective point of view, not representing per se. So the familiar argument for there being feelings, namely representing per se is different from perceptual experience, doesn’t work.
It might be possible that a kind of creatures has a sensory system one of whose states is, physiological speaking, the same as the state of our sensory system that realizes an experience representing red but would be triggered by green objects normally. Since it is the same state as our sensory state representing red, which is triggered by red objects normally, we might believe that green objects would appear red to these creatures, as red objects appear red to us.
The underlying presumption, namely the same sensory state would realize an experience with the same phenomenality is either problematic or begging the question against intentionalism. ◦ If phenomenality of an experience is exhausted by its representational content, then since the same sensory state doesn’t necessarily have the same representational content, the physiological possibility doesn’t prove that green objects would appear red to those creatures. ◦ If not, the presumption begs the question.
The subjectivity of experience, qua a perspective, is a brute fact, but not a non- physical fact Representation is not brute. But physicalistic stories could be told about it. Phenomenality consists in the essential combination of subjectivity and representation. Physicalists could be at rest.