Perceiving at a Distance

From October 2015 to July 2016

Register here for the Perceiving at a Distance conference on 9-10 June 2016.

Perception enables creatures to learn about their surroundings. For human beings, the distal senses of hearing and sight play a vital role. We see and hear things spatially removed from us, separated from our bodies. Those things may be several feet or light-years away. As a form of experience, distal perception does not require physical contact. This is why the distal senses give rise to philosophical puzzles about their operation, and invite queries about how the mind relates to its objects. Does such perception depend on perceived intermediaries? What is the role and nature of the medium intervening between us and the object? Do the distal senses require representations, or natural forms of intentionality? Philosophical reflection on perceiving at a distance has traditionally been a stepping-stone for innovative arguments about the metaphysics of perception and psychology. However, today philosophers of perception typically fail to regard perceiving at a distance as a phenomenon of distinct interest. Accordingly, they fail to notice how poorly the currently dominant picture of the mind chimes with the possibilities afforded by a vital form of perception. This two-day international conference with associated masterclass will focus on perceiving at a distance as a phenomenon of distinct philosophical significance. Its participants will seek new ways of making sense of distal perception. The event will bring together philosophers and psychologists working on sensory experience, and set up a collaborative debate about the status of the distal senses in the theory of perception. The conference will demonstrate how cutting-edge research on perception can thrive when resisting some of the standard assumptions about how the mind relates to its objects.

Visit the dedicated project website for more information.

Image: M. Steenhagen.

Maarten Steenhagen

Principal Organizer

Winnie Sung