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Public Defense of Ali Kerem Eroglu on "How to Experience Time and Space: Essays on Perceptual Phenomenology"

Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
by Ali Kerem Eroglu (PhD candidate, Department of Philosophy) on How to Experience Time and Space: Essays on Perceptual Phenomenology


Members of the Defense Committee:

Supervisor: Tim Crane (CEU)

External examiner: Christoph Hoerl (Warwick University)

Internal Examiner: Ferenc Huoranszki (CEU)

Chair: Michael Griffin (CEU)

The defense will be held on Tuesday, 3 October from 9.00 AM. Location A-215.



This thesis consists of five chapters featuring five distinct essays on the spatial and temporal character of perceptual experience. They are self-contained yet connected. In the first chapter, I aim at a diagnostic point regarding the philosophical questions about the temporal character of experience. After laying out the principles and doctrines that are typically invoked in the literature, I draw certain distinctions between the phenomenological and empirical questions about temporal experience. Although this does not mean that the phenomenological and empirical are independent, their distinctness should be dealt with care. I give some examples that fail to respect this distinction, leading to the conflation of orthogonal features of temporal experience. 

In the second chapter, I argue that introspective reflection can be systematically in error when it comes to revealing features of the temporal character of experience. Typically, it is often taken uncontroversial that if one is introspectively aware of the fact that one’s experience features P, it cannot be that the experience does not feature P. Similarly, if one is introspectively aware that one’s experience does not feature P, it cannot be that the experience features P. I argue that this is false for temporal experience. One can mistakenly believe that one is introspectively aware of the fact that one’s experience does not feature a temporal phenomenal property P, while one’s experience in fact features P. 

In the third chapter, I do two things. I argue that there is no problem of perceptual presence in Alva Noë’s (2004) sense. I then develop an alternative puzzle that arises for the presence of voluminous objects in visual experience and show that the version of the problem I motivate puts a different constraint on competing accounts of perceptual experience in the market. I finish by noting that imagination-based accounts of perceptual presence that Bence Nanay (2010) and Amy Kind defend (2018) cannot accommodate this constraint because their solutions are pre-empted by this new problem of perceptual presence. 

In the fourth chapter, I ask the question if there are basic units that feature in the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. I argue that we lack reason to think that there are such basic individual experiences in the first place. Lacking reason to think that there are no such units, nonetheless, is not a reason to think that there are no experiences, in the way that Michael Tye (2003) suggests. To defend this claim, I develop a characterization of perceptual phenomenology, where being aware of a sensible part of an experience requires being aware of a further part of that experience and propose that the best explanation for this is to invoke a kind of phenomenological holism, according to which experience has structural features that provide the context in which certain parts of the experience can be discerned. I finish by suggesting that such context can be explained by invoking a temporally extended sensory field in which temporal properties feature, perhaps more similar to the sensory spatial field that features in visual experience than many might think. 

In the fifth chapter, I focus on the notion of a felt temporal present. It is relatively uncontroversial that we consciously perceive the world now, at the present moment. Several accounts attempt to explain this fact about perceptual experience by claiming that perceptual experience represents its object as in the present moment (Peacocke, 1998; 2019; Kriegel, 2009; Connor and Smith 2019). One might question, however, if there is a temporal present in the sense of a mode of presentation now, under which perceptual experience presents its objects based on temporal phenomenology (Soteriou 2013, Hoerl 2018). I argue alongside this line of consideration and argue that representationalist accounts of the temporal present are phenomenologically suspect. This, however, I also maintain, is not sufficient to claim that perceptual experience does not feature a felt present at all. I track some motivations for the claim that there is a felt present in conscious perceptual experience, identify the main difficulty these motivations seem to face and propose my alternative account of the temporal present. According to the view I advance, it is one’s pre-reflective awareness of one’s own temporal location that gives us reason to think that there are felt temporal presents in conscious experience. 


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