Visual Perception in the Department of Philosophy

Sam Clarke is a VISTA Post-Doctoral Fellow and philosopher interested in visual perception. His supervisor is Professor Jacob Beck in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

In my research, I seek to understand the informational resources that visual systems use to inform their computations and the structure (or format) this information takes. To a large extent, these are empirical issues. Thus, the aim of my research is to build empirically adequate theories that unify disparate findings from the cognitive sciences, relating them to issues of broad theoretical/philosophical interest and, in the process, generating testable predictions.

Philosophers have been interested in vision for thousands of years. Nowadays, many assume that their investigations have been superseded by the empirical sciences, but this rests on a warped view of the relevant disciplines. In my own work, I seek to disentangle oft-conflated questions relating to vision’s modularity, informational encapsulation and cognitive penetrability, and oft-conflated questions relating to the analogue, iconic or depictive format of our visual representations. In so doing, my work draws on the latest empirical findings, adds clarity to the relevant debates, and generates testable predictions.

The research focus of my VISTA fellowship is enabling me to seek progress on broad and ambitious issues in perception science, and the philosophy thereof. Better still, it is enabling me to pursue this research in the company of leading researchers from related fields.