A puzzle about seeing for representationalism

  • James OpenshawEmail author
  • Assaf Weksler


When characterizing the content of a subject’s perceptual experience, does their seeing an object entail that their visual experience represents it as being a certain way? If it does, are they thereby in a position to have perceptually-based thoughts about it? On one hand, representationalists are under pressure to answer these questions in the affirmative. On the other hand, it seems they cannot. This paper presents a puzzle to illustrate this tension within orthodox representationalism. We identify several interesting morals which may be drawn in response, each of which teaches us something interesting and important about perceptual experience and its interface with cognition and related phenomena.


Perceptual experience Representationalism Seeing Singular thought Format Attention Iconic representation Analog representation 



We would like to thank everyone who attended a departmental colloquium at the University of Haifa for their helpful questions on this material. Special thanks also to Jonathan Berg, David Jenkins, Arnon Keren, and Samuel Lebens for their comments.


Funding was provided by the Israel Science Foundation (Project No. 1220/17) and The Humanities Fund.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Psyphas Program in Psychology and PhilosophyUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael

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