The dorsal stream and the visual horizon



Today many philosophers of mind accept that the two cortical streams of visual processing in humans can be distinguished in terms of conscious experience. The ventral stream is thought to produce representations that may become conscious, and the dorsal stream is thought to handle unconscious vision for action. Despite a vast literature on the topic of the two streams, there is currently no account of the way in which the relevant empirical evidence could fit with basic Husserlian phenomenology of vision. Here I offer such an account. In this article, I show how the empirical evidence ought to be understood in a way that is informed by phenomenology. The differences in the two streams are better described as differences in spatial and temporal processing. Rather than simply “unconscious,” the dorsal stream can be better described as making a special contribution to what Husserl identified as the visual horizon.


Two visual systems Perception Phenomenology 



I am grateful for the helpful comments I received when presenting this material at the Center for Subjectivity Research in Copenhagen in May 2010. My research for this article was supported by a collaborative research project on Consciousness in a Natural and Cultural Context (CONTACT), which was coordinated by the European Science Foundation (ESF).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johannes Gutenberg—Universität MainzMainzGermany

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