Husserl Studies

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Perceptual Transparency and Perceptual Constancy

  • Jan AlmängEmail author


A central topic in discussions about qualia concerns their purported transparency. According to transparency theorists, an experience is transparent in the sense that the subject having the experience is aware of nothing but the intended object of the experience. In this paper this notion is criticized for failing to account for the dynamical aspects of perception. A key assumption in the paper is that perceptual content has a certain temporal depth, in the sense that each act of perception can present an object as extended in time and that objects can be perceived as persisting through time. An object that is seen as persisting through time is often seen as constant and unchanging, even though the presentation of it is changing. In this paper it is argued that in order to account for these cases of perceptual constancy, we must distinguish between the awareness of having perceived that an object has a property at a certain point in time, and perceptually intending that it has that property at that point in time. Consequently, we must in at least some instances be aware of something more than the object of the experience. But precisely this distinction is rejected by the transparency theory.


Perceptual Experience Phenomenal Character Specious Present Intentional Object Intentional Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many thanks to Kristoffer Sundberg and an anonymous referee for many helpful comments and to all the participants at the “Lund mini-symposium on the concept of phenomenality: What is what-it-is-likeness like”, where I had the opportunity to present and discuss the contents of the paper. The writing of this paper was funded by The Swedish Research Council (Research Grant 421-2011-1587).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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