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date: 18 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Perception is the ultimate source of our knowledge about contingent facts. It is an extremely important philosophical development that starting in the last quarter of the twentieth century, philosophers have begun to change how they think of perception. The traditional view of perception focused on sensory receptors; it has become clear, however, that perceptual systems radically transform the output of these receptors, yielding content concerning objects and events in the external world. Adequate understanding of this process requires that we think of perception in new ways—how it operates, the differences among the modalities, and integration of content provided by the individual senses. Philosophers have developed new analytic tools, and opened themselves up to new ways of thinking about the relationship of perception to knowledge. The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception is a collection of chapters by leading researchers that reviews these new directions in philosophical thought. The Introduction to the Handbook reviews the history of the subject from its beginnings in ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, and the way that science and philosophy have together produced new conceptions during the last hundred years. It shows how the new thinking about perception has led to a complex web of theories.

Keywords: perception, Plato, Aristotle, scepticism, Stoics, Epicurus, agnosia, evolution of perception, perceptual specialization, sense data, realism

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