“States, Processes, and Perceptual Experience”
What do we talk about when we talk about perceptual experiences? According to what I shall call here a processive view, perceptual experiences should be ultimately analysed in terms of processes of a special phenomenological kind. These processes are deeply peculiar: for, on the one hand, they are not processes of a neuro-biological or otherwise physical kind; and, on the other, they cannot be analysed into constituents other than processes of the same special phenomenological kind. According to an alternative option I shall term here a stative view, meanwhile, perceptual experiences are states of a subject S (i.e a person) which obtain in virtue of an informational relation holding between S’s brain and her surroundings. If there are experiential processes, they should be understood in terms of state-change or statemaintenance. The goal of this piece is twofold: first, I shall unpack a version of this plausible albeit neglected understanding of perceptual experiences; secondly, I shall motivate a stative view by suggesting that, unlike the processive stance, it provides a rather elegant framework to deal with at least two problematic issues – the relationship between perceptual experience
and its neuro-biological basis, on the one hand, and, on the other, the individuation of perceptual experiences over time. The stative view neatly captures a conceptual dependence of a subject’s experiences vis-à-vis more fundamental constituents, such as informational relations between a perceptual system and its surroundings. Correspondingly, the individuation of perceptual experiences may also be bound to that of its constituent physical components.