A neurophilosophical approach to perception

Steven S. Gouveia, Georg Northoff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Perception is an important feature of our mental life. Most of the best experiences that we have come with perceptual experience: The taste of a good coffee or a nice pizza. Perceptual experience is also vital for our survival. Since ancient times, perception theory has been dealt with as part of investigations into the nature of reality or in terms of how we access the world. The question about the nature of perception is, however, different from the empirical question: That is, how do our sense organs in general actually work? In that sense, we are asking for the specific mechanisms of, for example, vision and smell. Even if, in a scenario of epistemic perfection where we know every detail, e.g., the neuropsychological theory of vision and smell, there will always be the question: Why does this process give a reason to justify, for example, the belief that I’m seeing this table right now? In this chapter, we will focus on the importance of one of the most relevant answers to the problem of perception: Namely, Direct Realism (DR). We will characterize the main idea of this approach and the several sub-positions (and which model-sensory, cognitive, or other-of perception they are attached to) underlying the main intuition of DR. We will then demonstrate why this approach is more plausible than the indirect realists’ theories of perception. However, DR suffers nevertheless from some problems, most notably the adoption of an implausible model of perception. Presupposing an empirically more plausible model of perception, we, therefore, sketch a neurophilosophical alternative, a spatiotemporal approach, as we describe it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerception, Cognition and Aesthetics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780429870286, 9780429462658
ISBN (Print)9781138615939
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

Publication series

NamePerception, Cognition and Aesthetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A neurophilosophical approach to perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this