John Locke Lectures
The John Locke Lectures are among the world's most distinguished lecture series in philosophy. This list of past lecturers shows that most of the greatest philosophers of the last half century have been Locke Lecturers. The series began in 1950, funded from the generous bequest of Henry Wilde.
Trinity Term 2013
Professor Ned Block, (NYU)
'Attention and Perception'
How philosophical issues about perception are transformed in the light of the science of perception
Does conscious perception have representational content? Or are the representations involved in perception all sub-personal underpinnings of perception rather than partly constitutive of perception itself? Is “unconscious perception” really perception? Is seeing always seeing-as? Is seeing-as always conceptual? Do we see things only as having colors, shapes and textures? Or do we see things as being CD players or baseball bats? Is perception a form of judgment? Must conscious perception be cognitively accessible to the subject? Is attention required for object perception or knowledge of the reference of perceptual demonstratives? These lectures argue that these and other related philosophical issues are transformed by taking into account the science of perception.
The 2013 John Locke Lecture series will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays in weeks 2 to 7 of Trinity Term 2013. The lectures will be given at the T. S. Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College (enter by Rose Lane).
Lecture 1 (1st May) 'Attention, representationism and direct realism'
Facts about attention and its relation to the phenomenology of perception are problematic for the major philosophical approaches to perception.
Lecture 2 (8th May) 'The grain of seeing vs attending and the de re thought condition on seeing an object'
There is a minimal resolution of object-seeing that is finer than a corresponding minimal resolution of object-attention, so object-attention is not required for object-seeing. No reasonable version of a de re thought potential requirement on seeing conflicts with this grain difference. These ideas solve a version of the speckled hen problem.
Lecture 3 (15th May) 'Seeing-As: How can we find out whether seeing is representational, and if so, what representations are involved?'
Some say that seeing is always seeing-as and that seeing-as involves conceptualization. Some say that not only can we see things as having certain colors, shapes and textures; we can see things as being a table or a car. A framework is proposed for distinguishing high level perceptual representations from recognitionally equivalent color, shape and texture representations, and for distinguishing perceptual representations from cognitive representations.
Lecture 4 (22nd May) 'Consciousness and cognition: the power of unconscious perception'
One of the most important issues concerning the foundations of conscious perception centers on the question of whether perceptual consciousness is rich or sparse. The “overflow” argument uses a form of “iconic memory” to argue that perceptual consciousness is richer (i.e., has a higher capacity) than cognitive access: when observing a complex scene we are conscious of more than it is possible to report or think about. Recently, the overflow argument has been challenged both empirically and conceptually. This lecture reviews the controversy, focusing on the power of unconscious processes and arguing that what we know about unconscious processing suggests that consciousness does overflow cognition.
Lecture 5 (29th May) 'Conscious, preconscious, unconscious'
There are reliably reproducible states that have little or no reportability but do not have many of the signature properties of unconscious states. This lecture discusses whether these states might be phenomenally conscious in the light of the close conceptual tie between conscious perception and first person authority.
Lecture 6 (5th June) 'Does the physical basis of consciousness include anything outside the head?'
Clark and Chalmers famously argued that the cognitive mind extends beyond the brain into the body and the world. If I can fluidly access the phone number from a suitable source outside my body, we should allow that I know it now. Others have argued that this “vehicle externalist” point of view applies to consciousness: the minimal constitutive supervenience base of conscious experience extends outside the brain into the rest of the body and into the world. This lecture argues that there is an established empirical framework for resolving such issues and we have overwhelming grounds to doubt the externalist point of view applied to consciousness.
Trinity Term 2014
In 2014, the lectures will be given by Martha Nussbaum (Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago)