Perception reading group

I. Description

The Perception reading group associated to the ERC Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250-1550 project will continue for as long as the project itself. The reading group is constituted by two sets of sessions: one, dedicated to historical sources in the full sense – we have started with Plato and will continue with Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, etc. There is no set schedule because it depends how long we take to examine the texts of a given author. For the historical set, we will always have one expert leading the session – but participants are supposed to read the texts before the session.

The second set of sessions is focused on ‘contemporary’ texts – contemporary in the sense of including texts from the 20th and 21st centuries. We will start with sense datum theorists and continue with the causal theory and so on; but the idea is to be quite flexible on this. The structure of these sessions is freer, in the sense of not having a leader – except if someone volunteers for a specific session or text.

In a sense, these two sets can be thought as independent reading groups, connected by the general topic. The ambition is to bring people interested in different historical periods and with different levels of expertise, sharing an interest in the same general topic but looking for answers to different questions and that we could work on these together, by going through the two sets of texts.

Until further notice, the sessions will take place in Metsätalo, in the philosophy seminar room A110. Texts will be made available upon request. Please contact


II. Sessions and Texts

First Session:

TUESDAY OCTOBER 27TH, 10-12: Plato, selected passages from the Theaetetus (translation is by M.J. Levett, revised by Myles Burnyeat) and the Timaeus (translation is by Donald J. Zeyl, both from The Complete Works of Plato edited by John M. Cooper and published by Hackett 1997).

The session is led by Prof. Pauliina Remes.


Second Session:

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 24th, 10-12: two papers on sense-data:

G.E. Moore, ‘Visual Sense Data’, in C. A. Mace (ed), British Philosophy in Mid-Century. London: George Allen & Unwin, Reprinted in Robert J. Swartz (ed), Perceiving, Sensing, and Knowing. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1965, pp. 130-37.

Roderick Firth, ‘Sense-Data and the Percept Theory’, Mind, 58:232 (1949), 434-465


Third Session: 

FRIDAY DECEMBER 18th, 10-12. Plato (continuation).

Session led by Prof. Pauliina Remes.


Fourth Session:

FRIDAY MAY 20th, 10-12. We will be reading the following texts:

McDowell, “Non-conceptual Content” (Chapter 3 of Mind and World)

Kelly, “Demonstrative Concepts and Experience”, The Philosophical Review, 110(3): 397–420.


Fifth Session: 

TUESDAY OCTOBER 18th, 10-12. We will be reading the following texts:

Tim Crane, ‘The nonconceptual content of experience’, in T. Crane (Ed.), The Contents of Experience, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

C. Peacocke, ‘Scenarios, concepts, and perception’, in T. Crane (Ed.), The Contents of Experience, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.


Sixth Session:

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 29, 10h-12h, room A110 Metsätalo. Aristotle.

The session will be lead by Dr. Mika Perälä.

 The  participants should read (at least) Aristotle’s De Anima 2.11-3.2 and De Sensu 7.


Seventh Session:

JANUARY 27, 12-14 in A 110.

The texts under discussion will be an essay by John McDowell (Avoiding the Myth of the Given) and a textual response by Donnchadh O’Conaill (‘Seeing-as’ and the Grounding of Judgement in Perception).


Eight Session:

FRIDAY MARCH 10, 10-12 in A110. Aristotle.

The session will be lead by Dr. Mika Perälä.


Ninth Session:


We have a special visitor, Professor Charles Travis, who will lead the session on one of his texts, The Silence of the Senses. The text will be made available upon request and place and venue indicated later on.


Tenth Session:


Venue: Metsätalo, room 11 (3rd Floor).

We will be reading some passages from De natura hominis by Nemesius of Emesa concerning perception. Anna Usacheva (HCAS Fellow) will be leading the session.