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The Philosophy of Charles TravisLanguage, Thought, and Perception$
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John Collins and Tamara Dobler

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198783916.001.0001

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Are the Senses Silent?

Are the Senses Silent?

Travis’s Argument from Looks

(p.199) 10 Are the Senses Silent?
The Philosophy of Charles Travis

Keith A. Wilson

Oxford University Press

Many philosophers and scientists take perceptual experience, whatever else it involves, to be representational. In ‘The Silence of the Senses’, Charles Travis argues that this view involves a kind of category mistake, and consequently, that perceptual experience is not a representational or intentional phenomenon. The details of Travis’s argument, however, have been widely misinterpreted by his representationalist opponents, many of whom dismiss it out of hand. This chapter offers an interpretation of Travis’s argument from looks that it is argued presents a genuine and important challenge to orthodox representational views of experience. Whilst this challenge may not (pace Travis) be insurmountable, it places a substantial burden upon the representationalist to explain not only how experiences come to have the contents that they do (the individuation question), but how those contents come to feature in our conscious mental lives (the availability question).

Keywords:   Charles Travis, The Silence of the Senses, perception, perceptual experience, representational content, naïve realism, looks

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