In defence of an extramission theory of visual cognition, or what’s wrong with Cartesian representationalism by Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger

Theories of visual perception from Descartes onwards treat vision in terms of light entering the eye and being brought to a clear focus, the image formed then being interpreted by the brain. This kind of account is modelled on the optics of the telescope. But this gives rise to the problem that we are aware only of representations of things in the world, not of the things themselves. I argue that there is no philosophical solution to this problem. Rather the answer lies in abandoning the telescope model and adpoting something closer to an extramission theory.

Date: 2 June 2017
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About the Speaker:
Stephen Gaukroger received his BA (hons) in philosophy, with congratulatory first class honours, from the University of London in 1974, and his PhD, in history and philosophy of science, from the University of Cambridge in 1977. He was a Research Fellow at Clare Hall Cambridge, and then at the University of Melbourne, before joining the Philosophy Department at Sydney in 1981. In 2011, he moved to the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Corresponding Member of l’Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences. In 2003 he was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for contributions to history of philosophy and history of science. His work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbian.



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