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date: 18 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Parisians flocked to see the absence of the Mona Lisa after it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. Four answers to the question of ‘What did the curious Parisians see?’ will be entertained. These are extrapolations from the work of the metacognitivist Henri Bergson, the subjectivist Jean Paul Sartre, the objectivist Richard Taylor, and the ‘mediated perception’ theory of Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi. Special attention is devoted to Bergson because he anticipates themes that are now more recognizable thanks to the maturation of expressivism and enactivism. Sartre’s account is translated into the idiom of analytic philosophy with the help of Fred Dretske’s distinction between epistemic and non-epistemic perception. In the course of this survey, the perception of absences is related to psychological phenomena such as hallucinations, after-images, gestalt switches, and inattentional blindness. The perception of higher order absences, such as those created by bicycle thieves, will be compared to the perception of lower level absences such as seeing a shadow and feeling a hole.

Keywords: absence, Bergson, enactivism, expressivism, hallucination, hole, metacognition, Mona Lisa, non-epistemic perception, Sartre, shadow

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