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The Power of Perception
Deborah K. W. Modrak
University of Chicago Press, 1987

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Conscious Experience
A Logical Inquiry
Anil Gupta
Harvard University Press, 2019

A distinguished philosopher offers a novel account of experience and reason, and develops our understanding of conscious experience and its relationship to thought: a new reformed empiricism.

The role of experience in cognition is a central and ancient philosophical concern. How, theorists ask, can our private experiences guide us to knowledge of a mind-independent reality? Exploring topics in logic, philosophy of mind, and epistemology, Conscious Experience proposes a new answer to this age-old question, explaining how conscious experience contributes to the rationality and content of empirical beliefs.

According to Anil Gupta, this contribution cannot be determined independently of an agent’s conceptual scheme and prior beliefs, but that doesn’t mean it is entirely mind-dependent. While the rational contribution of an experience is not propositional—it does not, for example, provide direct knowledge of the world—it does authorize certain transitions from prior views to new views. In short, the rational contribution of an experience yields a rule for revising views. Gupta shows that this account provides theoretical freedom: it allows the observer to radically reconceive the world in light of empirical findings. Simultaneously, it grants empirical reason significant power to constrain, forcing particular conceptions of self and world on the rational inquirer. These seemingly contrary virtues are reconciled through novel treatments of presentation, appearances, and ostensive definitions.

Collectively, Gupta’s arguments support an original theory: reformed empiricism. He abandons the idea that experience is a source of knowledge and justification. He also abandons the idea that concepts are derived from experience. But reformed empiricism preserves empiricism’s central insight: experience is the supreme epistemic authority. In the resolution of factual disagreements, experience trumps all.


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Travels in Speculative Pragmatism
Brian Massumi
Duke University Press, 2021
In Couplets, Brian Massumi presents twenty-four essays that represent the full spectrum of his work during the past thirty years. Conceived as a companion volume to Parables for the Virtual, Couplets addresses the key concepts of Parables from different angles and contextualizes them, allowing their stakes to be more fully felt. Rather than organizing the essays chronologically or by topic, Massumi pairs them into couplets to encourage readers to make connections across conventional subject matter categories, to encounter disjunctions, and to link different phases in the evolution of his work. In his analyses of topics ranging from art, affect, and architecture to media theory, political theory, and the philosophy of experience, Massumi charts a field on which a family of conceptual problems plays out in ways that bear on the potentials for acting and perceiving the world. As an essential guide to Massumi's oeuvre, Couplets is both a primer for his new readers and a supplemental resource for those already engaged with his thought.

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The Course of Recognition
Paul Ricoeur
Harvard University Press, 2005

Recognition, though it figures profoundly in our understanding of objects and persons, identity and ideas, has never before been the subject of a single, sustained philosophical inquiry. This work, by one of contemporary philosophy’s most distinguished voices, pursues recognition through its various philosophical guises and meanings—and, through the “course of recognition,” seeks to develop nothing less than a proper hermeneutics of mutual recognition.

Originally delivered as lectures at the Institute for the Human Sciences at Vienna, the essays collected here consider recognition in three of its forms. The first chapter, focusing on knowledge of objects, points to the role of recognition in modern epistemology; the second, concerned with what might be called the recognition of responsibility, traces the understanding of agency and moral responsibility from the ancients up to the present day; and the third takes up the problem of recognition and identity, which extends from Hegel’s discussion of the struggle for recognition through contemporary arguments about identity and multiculturalism. Throughout, Paul Ricoeur probes the significance of our capacity to recognize people and objects, and of self-recognition and self-identity in relation to the gift of mutual recognition. Drawing inspiration from such literary texts as the Odyssey and Oedipus at Colonus, and engaging some of the classic writings of the Continental philosophical tradition—by Kant, Hobbes, Hegel, Augustine, Locke, and Bergson—The Course of Recognition ranges over vast expanses of time and subject matter and in the process suggests a number of highly insightful ways of thinking through the major questions of modern philosophy.


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Imagination and Invention
Gilbert Simondon
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

A radical rethinking of the theory and the experience of mental images

Here, in English translation for the first time, is Gilbert Simondon’s fundamental reconception of the mental image and the theory of imagination and invention. Drawing on a vast range of mid-twentieth-century theoretical resources—from experimental psychology, cybernetics, and ethology to the phenomenological reflections of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty—Imagination and Invention provides a comprehensive account of the mental image and adds a vital new dimension to the theory of psychical individuation in Simondon’s earlier, highly influential work.

Simondon traces the development of the mental image through four phases: first a bundle of motor anticipations, the image becomes a cognitive system that mediates the organism’s relation to its milieu, then a symbolic and abstract integration of motor and affective experience to, finally, invention, a solution to a problem of life that requires the externalization of the mental image and the creation of a technical object. An image cannot be understood from the perspective of one phase alone, he argues, but only within the trajectory of its progressive metamorphosis.


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The Intentional Spectrum and Intersubjectivity
Phenomenology and the Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelians
Michael D. Barber
Ohio University Press, 2011

World-renowned analytic philosophers John McDowell and Robert Brandom, dubbed “Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelians,” recently engaged in an intriguing debate about perception. In The Intentional Spectrum and Intersubjectivity Michael D. Barber is the first to bring phenomenology to bear not just on the perspectives of McDowell or Brandom alone, but on their intersection. He argues that McDowell accounts better for the intelligibility of empirical content by defending holistically functioning, reflectively distinguishable sensory and intellectual intentional structures. He reconstructs dimensions implicit in the perception debate, favoring Brandom on knowledge’s intersubjective features that converge with the ethical characteristics of intersubjectivity Emmanuel Levinas illuminates.

Phenomenology becomes the third partner in this debate between two analytic philosophers, critically mediating their discussion by unfolding the systematic interconnectionamong perception, intersubjectivity, metaphilosophy, and ethics.


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Looking Away
Phenomenality and Dissatisfaction, Kant to Adorno
Rei Terada
Harvard University Press, 2009

In Looking Away, Rei Terada revisits debates about appearance and reality in order to make a startling claim: that the purpose of such debates is to police feelings of dissatisfaction with the given world.

Focusing on romantic and post-romantic thought after Kant, Terada argues that acceptance of the world “as is” is coerced by canonical epistemology and aesthetics. In guilty evasions of this coercion, post-Kantian thinkers cultivate fleeting, aberrant appearances, perceptual experiences that do not present themselves as facts to be accepted and therefore become images of freedom. This “phenomenophilia,” she suggests, informs romanticism and subsequent philosophical thought with a nascent queer theory.

Through graceful readings of Coleridge’s obsession with perceptual ephemera, or “spectra,” recorded in his Notebooks; of Kant’s efforts in his First and Third Critiques to come to terms with the given world; of Nietzsche’s responses to Kant and his meditations on ephemeral phenomenal experiences; and of Adorno’s interpretations of both Nietzsche and Kant, Terada proposes that the connection between dissatisfaction and ephemeral phenomenality reveals a hitherto-unknown alternative to aesthetics that expresses our right to desire something other than experience “as is,” even those parts of it that really cannot be otherwise.


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The Minor Gesture
Erin Manning
Duke University Press, 2016
In this wide-ranging and probing book Erin Manning extends her previous inquiries into the politics of movement to the concept of the minor gesture. The minor gesture, although it may pass almost unperceived, transforms the field of relations. More than a chance variation, less than a volition, it requires rethinking common assumptions about human agency and political action. To embrace the minor gesture's power to fashion relations, its capacity to open new modes of experience and manners of expression, is to challenge the ways in which the neurotypical image of the human devalues alternative ways of being moved by and moving through the world—in particular what Manning terms "autistic perception." Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis and Whitehead's speculative pragmatism, Manning's far-reaching analyses range from fashion to depression to the writings of autistics, in each case affirming the neurodiversity of the minor and the alternative politics it gestures toward.

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Motivation and the Primacy of Perception
Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Knowledge
Peter Antich
Ohio University Press, 2021

Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological notion of motivation advances a compelling alternative to the empiricist and rationalist assumptions that underpin modern epistemology.

Arguing that knowledge is ultimately founded in perceptual experience, Peter Antich interprets and defends Merleau-Ponty’s thinking on motivation as the key to establishing a new form of epistemic grounding. Upending the classical dichotomy between reason and natural causality, justification and explanation, Antich shows how this epistemic ground enables Merleau-Ponty to offer a radically new account of knowledge and its relation to perception. In so doing, Antich demonstrates how and why Merleau-Ponty remains a vital resource for today’s epistemologists.


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Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity
Hilary Putnam
Harvard University Press, 2016

Hilary Putnam’s ever-evolving philosophical oeuvre has been called “the history of recent philosophy in outline”—an intellectual achievement, nearly seventy years in the making, that has shaped disciplinary fields from epistemology to ethics, metaphysics to the philosophy of physics, the philosophy of mathematics to the philosophy of mind. Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity offers new avenues into the thought of one of the most influential minds in contemporary analytic philosophy.

The essays collected here cover a range of interconnected topics including naturalism, commonsense and scientific realism, ethics, perception, language and linguistics, and skepticism. Aptly illustrating Putnam’s willingness to revisit and revise past arguments, they contain important new insights and freshly illuminate formulations that will be familiar to students of his work: his rejection of the idea that an absolute conception of the world is obtainable; his criticism of a nihilistic view of ethics that claims to be scientifically based; his pathbreaking distinction between sensations and apperceptions; and his use of externalist semantics to invalidate certain forms of skepticism. Above all, Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity reflects Putnam’s thinking on how to articulate a theory of naturalism which acknowledges that normative phenomena form an ineluctable part of human experience, thereby reconciling scientific and humanistic views of the world that have long appeared incompatible.


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Perception in Aristotle’s Ethics
Eve Rabinoff
Northwestern University Press, 2018
Perception in Aristotle's Ethics seeks to demonstrate that living an ethical life requires a mode of perception that is best called ethical perception. Specifically, drawing primarily on Aristotle’s accounts of perception and ethics in De anima and Nicomachean Ethics, Eve Rabinoff argues that the faculty of perception (aisthesis), which is often thought to be an entirely physical phenomenon, is informed by intellect and has an ethical dimension insofar as it involves the perception of particulars in their ethical significance, as things that are good or bad in themselves and as occasions to act. Further, she contends, virtuous action requires this ethical perception, according to Aristotle, and ethical development consists in the achievement of the harmony of the intellectual and perceptual, rational and nonrational, parts of the soul.

Rabinoff's project is philosophically motivated both by the details of Aristotle’s thought and more generally by an increasing philosophical awareness that the ethical agent is an embodied, situated individual, rather than primarily a disembodied, abstract rational will. 

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Perceptual Acquaintance
From Descartes to Reid
John W. Yolton
University of Minnesota Press, 1984

Perceptual Acquaintance was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Philosophers, wrote Thomas Reid in 1785, "all suppose that we perceive not external objects immediately, and that the immediate objects of perception are only certain shadows of the external objects." To Reid, a founding father of the common-sense school of philosophy, John Locke's "way of ideas" threatened to supplant, in human knowledge, the world of physical objects and events—and to point down the dreaded path to scepticism.

John Yolton finds Reid at least partly responsible for this standard (and by now stereotypic) account of Locke and his eighteenth-century British successors on the subject of perception. By carefully examining the writings of Descartes and the Cartesians, and Locke and his successors, Yolton is able to suggest an alternative to this interpretation of their views. He goes back to a wide range of original texts—those of the period's major philosophers, to Descartes' scholastic precursors, to obscure pamphleteers, and to writers on religion, natural philosophy, medicine, and optics—all in an effort to help us understand the issues without the interference of modern labels and categories. The subtle changes over time reveal an important transformation in the understanding of perception, yet one that is prefigured in earlier work, contrary to Reid's view of the past. Included in Yolton's reevaluation is a full account of the role of Berkeley and Hume in the study of perceptual acquaintance, and of the connection between their work.


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Principles Of Interpretation
Continental Thought Series, V5
Edward Goodwin Ballard
Ohio University Press, 1983

This is a major phenomenological work in which real learning works in graceful tandem with genuine and important insight. Yet this is not a work of scholarship; it is a work of philosophy, a work that succeeds both in the careful, descriptive massing of detail and in the power of its analysis of the conditions that underlie the possibility of such things as description, interpretation, perception, and meaning.

Principles of Interpretation formulates answers to these questions: How does the interpretative process proceed? What are its fundamentals? What assurance have we that our interpretations are in principal faithful to that which is to be interpreted? What conclusions are indicated concerning the past phases of our history and its present tendencies?


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The Problem of Perception
A. D. Smith
Harvard University Press, 2002

In a major contribution to the theory of perception, A. D. Smith presents a truly original defense of direct realism--the view that in perception we are directly aware of things in the physical world.

The Problem of Perception offers two arguments against direct realism--one concerning illusion, and one concerning hallucination--that no current theory of perception can adequately rebut. Smith then develops a theory of perception that does succeed in answering these arguments; and because these arguments are the only two that present direct realism with serious problems arising from the nature of perception, direct realism emerges here for the first time as an ultimately tenable position within the philosophy of perception.

At the heart of Smith's theory is a new way of drawing the distinction between perception and sensation, along with an unusual treatment of the nature of objects of hallucination. With in-depth reference to both the analytical and the phenomenological literature on perception, and with telling criticism of alternative views, Smith's groundbreaking work will be of value to philosophers of perception in both the analytical and the phenomenological tradition, as well as to psychologists of perception.


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A Process Model
Eugene T. Gendlin; Foreword by Robert A. Parker
Northwestern University Press, 2018
Eugene T. Gendlin (1926–2017) is increasingly recognized as one of the seminal thinkers of our era. Carrying forward the projects of American pragmatism and continental philosophy, Gendlin created an original form of philosophical psychology that brings new understandings of human experience and the life-world, including the “hard problem of consciousness.”
A Process Model, Gendlin’s magnum opus, offers no less than a new alternative to the dualism of mind and body. Beginning with living process, the body’s simultaneous interaction and identity with its environment, Gendlin systematically derives nonreductive concepts that offer novel and rigorous ways to think from within lived precision. In this way terms such as body, environment, time, space, behavior, language, culture, situation, and more can be understood with both great force and great subtlety.

Gendlin’s project is relevant to discussions not only in philosophy but in other fields in which life process is central—including biology, environmental management, environmental humanities, and ecopsychology. It provides a genuinely new philosophical approach to complex societal challenges and environmental issues.

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The Sensible World and the World of Expression
Course Notes from the Collège de France, 1953
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Translated from the French with an introduction and notes by Bryan Smyth
Northwestern University Press, 2020

The Sensible World and the World of Expression was a course of lectures that Merleau-Ponty gave at the Collège de France after his election to the chair of philosophy in 1952. The publication and translation of Merleau-Ponty’s notes from this course provide an exceptional view into the evolution of his thought at an important point in his career. 

In these notes, we see that Merleau-Ponty’s consideration of the problem of the perception of movement leads him to make a self-critical return to Phenomenology of Perception in order to rethink the perceptual encounter with the sensible world as essentially expressive, and hence to revise his understanding of the body schema accordingly in terms of praxical motor possibilities. Sketching out an embodied dialectic of expressive praxis that would link perception with art, language, and other cultural and intersubjective phenomena, up to and including truth, Merleau-Ponty’s notes for these lectures thus afford an exciting glimpse of how he aspired to overcome the impasse of ontological dualism. 

Situated midway between Phenomenology of Perception and The Visible and the Invisible, these notes mark a juncture of crucial importance with regard to Merleau-Ponty’s later efforts to work out the ontological underpinnings of phenomenology in terms of a new dialectical conception of nature and history.


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Studies in the Way of Words
Paul Grice
Harvard University Press, 1989

This volume, Paul Grice’s first book, includes the long-delayed publication of his enormously influential 1967 William James Lectures. But there is much, much more in this work. Grice himself has carefully arranged and framed the sequence of essays to emphasize not a certain set of ideas but a habit of mind, a style of philosophizing.

Grice has, to be sure, provided philosophy with crucial ideas. His account of speaker-meaning is the standard that others use to define their own minor divergences or future elaborations. His discussion of conversational implicatures has given philosophers an important tool for the investigation of all sorts of problems; it has also laid the foundation for a great deal of work by other philosophers and linguists about presupposition. His metaphysical defense of absolute values is starting to be considered the beginning of a new phase in philosophy. This is a vital book for all who are interested in Anglo-American philosophy.


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Beyond Recognition
Kelly Oliver
University of Minnesota Press, 2001
A new, ethically based theory of identity by a major scholar. Challenging the fundamental tenet of the multicultural movement-that social struggles turning upon race, gender, and sexuality are struggles for recognition-this work offers a powerful critique of current conceptions of identity and subjectivity based on Hegelian notions of recognition. The author's critical engagement with major texts of contemporary philosophy prepares the way for a highly original conception of ethics based on witnessing. Central to this project is Oliver's contention that the demand for recognition is a symptom of the pathology of oppression that perpetuates subject-object and same-different hierarchies. While theorists across the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences focus their research on multiculturalism around the struggle for recognition, Oliver argues that the actual texts and survivors' accounts from the aftermath of the Holocaust and slavery are testimonials to a pathos that is "beyond recognition." Oliver traces many of the problems with the recognition model of subjective identity to a particular notion of vision presupposed in theories of recognition and misrecognition. Contesting the idea of an objectifying gaze, she reformulates vision as a loving look that facilitates connection rather than necessitates alienation. As an alternative, Oliver develops a theory of witnessing subjectivity. She suggests that the notion of witnessing, with its double meaning as either eyewitness or bearing witness to the unseen, is more promising than recognition for describing the onset and sustenance of subjectivity. Subjectivity is born out of and sustained by the process of witnessing-the possibility of address and response-which puts ethical obligations at its heart. "In a tour de force, nourished by a host of thinkers from Levinas to Fanon, Kristeva, Butler, and Irigaray among others, Oliver works her way back behind the many philosophical anthropologies based upon the preeminence of recognition in the formation of a subject. Witnessing is a work of positive, exhortatory philosophy." --Continental Philosophy Review Kelly Oliver is professor of philosophy and women's studies at SUNY Stony Brook. She is the author of, among other works, The Colonization of Psychic Space (2004) and, with Benigno Trigo, Noir Anxiety (2002).

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