Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 325-346

First online:

Ambiguous figures and the spatial contents of perceptual experience: a defense of representationalism

  • René JagnowAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, The University of Georgia Email author 

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Representationalists hold that the phenomenal character of a perceptual experience is identical with, or supervenes on, an aspect of its representational content. As such, representationalism could be disproved by a counter-example consisting of two experiences that have the same representational content but differ in phenomenal character. In this paper, I discuss two recently proposed counter-examples to representationalism that involve ambiguous or reversible figures. I pursue two goals. My first, and most important, goal is to show that the representationalist can offer plausible responses to both counter-examples. My second goal is to show the implications of these responses for the nature of the spatial representational contents of perceptual experiences.


Perceptual experience Representationalism Spatial representational content Mach figure