Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 42, 2008

Philosophy of Mind

Athanasios Raftopoulos
Pages 179-187

Ambiguous Figures and Nonconceptual Content

Macpherson (2006) argues that the square/regular diamond figure threatens representationalism, which holds that the phenomenal character of experience is either identical, or supervenes on, the nonconceptual content of experience (NCC). Her argument is that representationalism is committed to the thesis that differences in the phenomenal experience of ambiguous figures, the gestalt switch, should be explained by differences in the NCC of perception of these figures. However, with respect to the square/regular diamond figure such differences in NCC do not explain the gestalt switch. I examine Macpherson’s claims and argue that representationalism can account for the experience of ambiguous figures by explaining differences in the phenomenal content of experience by means of differences in the NCC of that same experience. The thrust of my argument is that Macpherson’s account of what happens when subjects, upon viewing a tilted A and an A, report their experience by using the concept-term “A”, mistakes seeph with seedox. If this confusion is cleared, then representationalism can offer a coherent account of the gestalt switch in the diamond/square figure on the basis of the NCC of that experience.

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