Balint's Syndrome and the Structure of ExperienceDr. Craig French (Cambridge University)
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Ordinary visual perception of a spatial object involves visual awareness of some of the space the object occupies, and visual awareness of the object as located in space. But does visual perception of a spatial object require visual awareness of space and spatial location? Call the claim that it does the spatial perception requirement (SPR). (SPR) is subject to serious empirical challenge. For on the face of it individuals with Bálint’s Syndrome – a pathological spatial perception deficit to be described further below – are individuals who can see objects but who can’t see space itself, and can’t see objects as spatially located. If this is right, then in Bálint’s Syndrome there is a wholesale failure of (SPR).
I argue that both aspects of (SPR) are defensible even in the light of Bálint’s Syndrome. And I argue further that we have positive reason to suppose that individuals with Bálint’s Syndrome can see the spaces occupied by the objects they see. But how, then, can we articulate the way in which the experiences of individuals with Bálint’s Syndrome differ from ordinary visual experiences? I suggest that we can articulate this in terms of the structure of visual experience: the experiences of individuals with Bálint’s Syndrome do not involve a visual field in the way that ordinary visual experiences do.