Publication 6982

Pacherie E. (1999) Leibhaftigkeit and representational theories. In: Petitot J., Varela F. J., Pachoud B. & Roy J. (eds.) Naturalizing phenomenology: Issues in contemporary phenomenology and cognitive science. Stanford University Press, Stanford: 148–160. Fulltext at
I would like to examine in this essay a particular problem confronted by theories of perception that operate within the framework of naturalistic representational approaches to the mental. This problem concerns the capacity of such theories to account for a characteristic that Husserl considered the hallmark of perception, namely what he called the Leibhaftigkeit of the object in perception, that is, the fact that the object in perception appears as given in person or, to put it otherwise, as bodily present. Perceptual intentionality is presently the focus of a great deal of attention in the analytic philosophy of mind and more generally in cognitive science. Why this is so has a direct bearing on what is at stake with the problem of the Leibhaftigkeit of perception. Indeed, the Leibhaftigkeit of the object in perception can be thought to constitute a difficulty for a representational approach to perception. This difficulty may not be insuperable, provided one relinquishes a narrow, static, and punctual conception of representation in favor of a more dynamic approach to perception and perceptual representation. In fact, it may be that the analyses Husserl offers in Ding und Raum provide us with valuable indications of which representational capacities are needed in order to account for the Leibhaftigkeit of perception.

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