My doctoral research examined the structure of perceptual experience, with a focus on human visual perception but with application to perception in general.

Thanks to my committee at NYU: Ned Block (chair), David Chalmers, and Robert Hopkins.

I. Perceptual relativity and reorganization

Does a distant tree appear in some way smaller than a nearer tree? Many theories of visual perception—both classical philosophical frameworks, as well as contemporary accounts in cognitive science—argue from the manifest fact that our visual experience of a farther tree differs from our experience of a nearer tree ("perceptual relativity"), to the conclusion that our perception must involve some sensory, phenomenal, or experiential property which differs ('sense data', 'apparent size', 'qualia', awareness-of or access-to a 'retinal image', etc.). Moreover, such a property is often said to be smaller in the case of a further away object. I examine the history of this argument and the role it has played in motivating much of our thinking about perception.

I then argue for a simpler explanation of this phenomenon: perceptual relativity can be adequately accounted for by considering the co-variance of the mundane, world-directed properties which are already inherent to perception. In the case of size perception, there is always a concomitant perception of distance—and we are fundamentally unable to experience an object as having a determinate size without also experiencing it as situated at a determinate distance. The same for shape and orientation, and color and illumination: these feature-pairs are inherently linked by the structure of our visual perception because, like size and distance, they depend on factoring the same ambiguous stimulus (a two-dimensional array of varying-energy photons, as registered by the retina). Resolving that ambiguity for size (shape, color...) logically entails a complementary resolution for distance (orientation, illumination...).

On this model, perception is an interpretive, context-driven process of organizing ambiguous stimuli into property-pairs that form a pseudo-internally-consistent model of the world, subject to occasional top-down reorganizing. Perceptual experience gives us direct access to the results of that organizing—but, contra the views mentioned above, nothing more. Recognizing this allows us to retain the intuitive view that perception is the registration of nothing but world-directed properties of objects: properties which are either "real" (objective and physical), or which are at least presented to us in perception as being so.

II. Perception and imagination

Summary forthcoming (April, 2024). Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec molestie tortor a iaculis eleifend. Nullam ut augue nec metus scelerisque viverra sit amet quis neque. Nulla at odio a tortor laoreet gravida. Integer mattis augue mauris, sed viverra felis cursus sed. Mauris at leo vehicula, congue felis at, pulvinar lectus. Suspendisse eget urna sit amet lectus blandit condimentum vitae sed justo. Suspendisse malesuada arcu eget ultricies viverra. Duis interdum laoreet lectus sed tempor. Sed dignissim id felis eu ultrices. Maecenas accumsan interdum mi, ac interdum nulla luctus.

III. Social perception

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