Elements of a Phenomenological Theory of Perception
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A central issue in the theory of perception concerns the relation between the nature of perceptual experiences and the role they play with respect to our knowledge about the external world. A phenomenological theory of perception aims at offering a description of the nature of perceptual experiences that explains the way they provide a warrant for our beliefs about the external world. The central claim in this respect is that perceptual experiences can bring us in direct, immediate contact with items in the external world, although their nature is not essentially relational. A substantial part of the present paper is written with the intention to make that claim plausible and to show its relevance for the understanding of perceptual justification. The paper mentions and discusses a number of claims that are generally attributed to leading phenomenologists, mainly Brentano and Husserl. Some particularly controversial passages from Husserl's writings are presented and discussed. The discussion of these claims and passages is meant to offer a contribution to their interpretation and to provide the historical roots of the argument developed in this paper.