Contemporary philosophy of perception typically focuses on discussions concerning the content and the phenomenology of perceptual experience. In a significant departure from this tradition, The Ontology of Perceptual Experience explores the very conscious phenomena to which intentional or phenomenal features are thus ascribed. Drawing on a new wave of research— including the work of maverick philosophers like Helen Steward, Brian O’Shaughnessy, and Matthew Soteriou—this book examines two ways of categorizing perceptual experiences in accordance to their dynamic structure: on the one hand, Experiential Heracliteanism, an approach striving to describe perceptual experiences in terms of irreducibly dynamic components; and, on the other, Experiential Non-Heracliteanism, which conceives perceptual experiences as dynamic phenomena that may nevertheless be described in terms of non-dynamic elements. Sebastián Sanhueza Rodríguez describes both proposals and makes a modest case on behalf of the Non-Heraclitean approach against its increasingly popular Heraclitean counterpart. This case crucially turns on the fact that the Heracliteanist engages in a controversial and perhaps unnecessary commitment to irreducibly dynamic processes. The ontological framework this book unpacks offers a platform from which traditional issues in the philosophies of mind and perception may be revisited in refreshing and potentially fruitful ways.
Sebastián Sanhueza Rodríguez is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Concepción.
Chapter One: The Dynamic Structure of Perceptual Experiences
Chapter Two: Experiential Heracliteanism
Chapter Three: Experiential Non-Heracliteanism
Chapter Four: The Individuation of Experiences
Chapter Five: Experience and Causation
Chapter Six: Applications beyond the Ontology of Perception
Chapter Seven: Perceptual Experience and Language
About the Author
Sebastián Sanhueza Rodríguez has written a book that anyone interested in the current philosophy of perception should read. He focuses on the debate between two conceptions of perceptual experience. The first, developed in different ways by O’Shaughnessy and Soteriou, which he calls "experiential heracliteanism," is that experiences are essentially dynamic. The second is that they are not, but belong in the category of states. Guided by some insights of Vendler, he very carefully assesses the evidence in favour of the alternatives, sifting the metaphysical, linguistic, and introspective grounds that have been offered. Sanhueza concludes that the state view is better supported, a claim he further supports by arguing that it illuminates the causal role of experiences, and how they fit into the mind/body problem. The book is marked by a very impressive mastery of a range of technical issues and recent writings, and by the clarity and fairness displayed in analysing the pros and cons. It can safely be described as a tour de force, and it will strongly influence international discussion in the future.