„Perceiving as“

by Frank Hofmann

I would like to discuss several phenomena that can be grouped under the rubric of ‚perceiving as’. Not all cases of what can be called ‚perceiving as’ are of the same kind. Sometimes perceiving-as is merely perceiving and noticing a particular feature (attentional sense of perceiving-as). Sometimes ‚perceiving as’ refers to an enriched perceptual content which, perhaps, is learned (enriched perceptual perceiving-as). And sometimes perceiving-as requires classifying by means of a concept (conceptual perceiving-as). What is it to perceive something as a so-and-so, say, as a particular melody or as a truck, in the conceptual sense of perceiving-as? Some human subjects see the truck, but not as a truck. So to perceive something as a so-and-so is a special kind of cognitive achievement. What is the nature of this achievement? My tentative suggestion is that conceptual perceiving-as is perceiving which is accompanied by an act of mental demonstration underlying a demonstrative thought. I will conduct the discussion largely by relying on the distinction between nonconceptual perceptual content and conceptual content. But it is an open question whether the distinction is right and/or helpful.

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