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Public Defense of Valentina Martinis on "Perceiving and Thinking: Inquiry into two Types of Phenomenology"

Friday, September 29, 2023, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
by Valentina Martinis (PhD candidate, Department of Philosophy) on Perceiving and Thinking: Inquiry into two Types of Phenomenology


Members of the Defense Committee:

Supervisor: Katalin Farkas (CEU)

External examiner: Michelle Montague (University of Texas)

Internal Examiner: Howard Robinson (CEU)

Chair: Michael Griffin (CEU)


The defense will be held on Friday, 29 September from 5.00 PM. Location B 215.



I call the fact that there is an introspectable phenomenological difference between paradigmatic conscious perceptual states and paradigmatic conscious cognitive states, such that each ‘feel’ or ‘appear’ differently to the subject, the phenomenal datum. This dissertation addresses the datum in two parts. In the first part, I argue that the introspectable phenomenal difference between conscious states of perceiving and conscious cognitive states cannot be fully accounted for by differences in representational content, against so-called strong representationalism (see e.g., Dretske 1995; Tye 1995). Chapters 2 to 5 explore all the possible ways in which strong representationalism might explain the distinctive character of perception vis-à-vis thought. I will refer to these strategies as content or representational strategies. We can identify two kinds of content strategies: Object theories and Kinds-of-content theories (see Kriegel 2019a). Object theories (Chapters 2 and 3) claim that perceptual and cognitive states differ in terms of what they represent, i.e., in terms of the kinds of objects (broadly intended) they relate the subject to. Kinds-of content theories (Chapters 4 and 5) state that the crucial difference between perceptual and cognitive states is in terms of how they represent what they represent. I will argue that even in cases in which these theories identify features exclusively belong to perceptual or cognitive representational contents, these features eventually fail to account for the phenomenal datum. Given the failure of content strategies, in the second part of the dissertation I move to the attitude strategy. The attitude is the component of an intentional mental state that relates subject and content. The attitude strategy relies on the thesis that the attitude component makes a distinctive phenomenal contribution to the overall phenomenal character of the state. The strategy thus claims that the phenomenal datum can be accounted for in terms of attitudinal differences between typical perceptual and typical cognitive states. Depending on whether one regards attitude as a representational or a non-representational component of mental states, the attitude strategy may or may not be considered a kind of representational strategy. In Chapter 6 I will discuss the attitude strategy in detail and explain how it addresses the phenomenal datum. Finally, Chapter 7 will discuss two main obstacles to accepting the view.


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