The Phenomenology of Particularity
We perceive individual physical objects, and we perceive them as individual physical objects—as discrete, numerically distinct, as particulars: it is part of the experiential qualitative character of many of our perceptual experiences that they are experiences of individual particular objects. This fact—the fact of the ‘particularity of perception’, the ‘phenomenological particularity fact’—is the present concern of this paper. The paper begins with an argument that current theories of content, both ‘generalist’ and ‘particularist’, fail to account for it adequately. The author then sketches a general theory of mental content (both phenomenological content and non‐phenomenological content) that does provide the resources to give an adequate account of it. In particular, it gives a phenomenological account of it. There is a distinctive feature of the phenomenological content of perceptual experiences, which the author calls object‐positing or taking as object. This object‐positing is a fundamental category of perception, a basic structural element of our perceptions and perceptual experiences. The author argues that object‐positing is best understood as an example of what philosophers now call cognitive phenomenology, a kind of phenomenology distinct from sensory phenomenology. Finally, it is argued that although object‐positing is a distinctively phenomenological matter, it is an essential part of fixing external reference to objects of perception.
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