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Expanding our understanding of the philosophy of perception


Fish-Bill-2021

Professor Bill Fish.


Described by its publisher as “the only single-authored textbook on philosophy of perception currently available”, the second edition of Professor Bill Fish’s book Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction has just been published. The first edition of the book was published in 2010.

The philosophy of perception investigates the nature of our sensory experiences and their relation to reality. Professor Fish originally wrote a draft of the book for a Massey postgraduate philosophy of perception class and worked through the draft with the students. “It was a really good way to see what worked and what didn’t from the perspective of a textbook,” he says.

The initial publication of the book was quite timely, he adds.

“The philosophy of perception as a distinct sub-topic, discussion of perception-related issues had tended to be one element of a broader discussion in the philosophy of mind, had just started to take off.

“Although there are other books on the subject aimed at higher-level undergraduates and postgraduates, they are all of the ‘opinionated introduction’ style – that is, they advocate for a particular position while introducing the ideas. My book, on the other hand, attempts to provide very even-handed treatments of all the theories so that the reader can make their own informed choice as to which theory they prefer.”

Around the time the book was first released, researchers at numerous universities around the world started to develop dedicated philosophy of perception courses, and often picked up the book as a textbook for these courses. The book has been used at a range of universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe, and it was also translated into both Farsi and Japanese.

Philosophy-of-Perception-book-cover-2021

The book has just been published.

Because of the success of the first edition, Professor Fish was approached to develop a second edition a few years ago.

“I had originally thought that I could just tweak it a little – adding new research, but not really changing the overall structure – but once I actually started the work, I realised that this wasn’t going to work.”

The second edition has been substantially extended, going from approximately 70,000 to 120,000 words and including discussions on a whole range of new material.

“As well as adding discussions of new theoretical developments in philosophy, I significantly increased the discussion of the intersection of the philosophy of perception and the associated sciences such as physiology, psychology and neuroscience,” Professor Fish says. That discussion went from a chapter in the first edition to a whole half of the book in the second.

The book includes two completely new chapters – one on colour and colour vision, and one on the interaction between sense modalities – and also has significant additional, in-depth discussions of the non-visual senses, predictive processing approaches to perception and ecological approaches to perception.

“I hope the new edition really sets the scene for the next phase of development of the philosophy of perception as a sub-discipline. It’s an exciting time for the field, and I really hope I’ve managed to write the textbook that will introduce the next generation of students to the topic.”

You can purchase Philosophy of Perception: A Contemporary Introduction here.

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