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Perceiving Sensible Things: Husserl and the Act of Perception

Williams, A. (2014) Perceiving Sensible Things: Husserl and the Act of Perception. In: Učník, Lubica, Chvatík, Ivan and Williams, Anita, (eds.) The Phenomenological Critique of Mathematisation and the Question of Responsibility. Springer, pp. 197-209.

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In this paper, I argue that Husserl ’s critique of formalism remains relevant to psychological models of perception. In particular, I focus on the neurocognitive model of perception to show that, on this model, sense is reduced to sensation and human sense-making is confined to the end point of a causal process. By contrast, Husserl ’s explanation of human perception reinvigorates a meaningful concept of sense. Husserl explicates that the act of perception is comprised of two aspects: sensuous and categorial intuition . For Husserl , sensuous intuition means that we reach the object of perception without mediation, while categorial intuition means that we understand what we see, can see the same thing differently and can place it in relation to other things. By using Husserl ’s concepts of both sensuous and categorial intuition , I question the neurocognitive model of perception . Sensuous intuition brings into question the assumption that we are met with sense-data, and categorical intuition brings into question our enchainment to the given, implied by the causal model of perception . In short, for Husserl , sense is not mere sensation, but is constitutive of our meaningful engagement with the world: our understanding of the world is not passively determined by the world external to us; rather, we make sense of the world around us.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: Springer
Notes: Contributions to Phenomenology 76
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