BCSC 227: Theory of Perception

Offered: Fall
Cross-listed: PHIL 327
Prerequisites: BCSC 151 or one 200-level course in Philosophy

This course will be an introduction to the theory and philosophy of perception, focusing on visual perception. The major topics of the course are:

  • Are there features of perceptual experience that cannot be understood as features of represented objects (Harman, Tye, Peacocke, Ramachandran)?
  • Is perception direct or independent upon the specifics of sensory input (Gibson, Reid)?
  • Can we account for all of the features of perceptual experience in functional or computational terms? Is perception a type of computation that transforms an (impoverished) sensory input into a type of internal representation (Marr)?
  • Is perception best thought of as a hypothesis or inference about the world (Helmholtz; Shams & Beierholm)?
  • Is perception separate from knowledge and cognition or does cognition permeate perception? How do conscious beliefs about the world (e.g. that something is red) relate to sensory input (e.g. seeing a strawberry; Pylyshyn, Lupyan)?
  • Does perceptual knowledge transfer across sensory modalities (Evans)?