Seeing absence Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Farennikova, Anna
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • Experiences of absence are recognitions that something is missing from the perceived location or a scene. These perceptions vary in duration and intensity, and occur in the mundane cases, such as seeing no mail in the mailbox, and in the more emotionally-laden cases, such as feeling absence of a loved one. Because of how common these experiences are in daily life, perception of absence should be treated as a core element of basic cognition that has high relevance for the daily functioning of human beings. There is a question, however, whether these experiences are, in fact, perceptions. Do we really perceive absences, or do we only think or believe that something is absent? My dissertation defends the claim that we can perceive absences. I present a model of perception of absence based on the perceptual process of template-projection and matching and the paradigm of violation of expectation, and then use this model to explicate key phenomenological characteristics of experiences of absence. An important consequence of my thesis concerns the function of perception. If detection of absence is critical to our survival, then perception is not essentially only object-presenting. The job of the senses is not just to provide a record of what is where, David Marr's postulate about the function of vision, but to report, promptly and efficiently, about what is not where.
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  • In Copyright
  • Lycan, William G.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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