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Peter John Olivi on Perceptual Representation

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Abstract This paper studies Olivi’s account of perceptual representation. It addresses two main questions: (1) how do perceptual representations originate? and (2) how do they represent their objects? Regarding (1), it is well known that Olivi emphasizes the activity of the soul in the production of perceptual representations. Yet it is sometimes argued that he overstresses the activity of the soul in a way that yields a philosophically problematic result. I argue that Olivi was well aware of the problem that could be raised for his theory and that he sought to cope with it. Regarding (2), Pasnau argues that for Olivi, causal relationships with external objects determine the content of perceptual representations. I argue that, rather, perceptual representations are about their objects because they are their similitudes. This makes him an internalist about representational content.

Affiliations: 1: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

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