"Perceptual Presence"

March 26, 2020 - March 27, 2020
Central European University

Nádor u. 13 2nd Floor 1051 Budapest N15, Room 103.
Nádor u. 13 2nd Floor 1051 Budapest N15, Room 103.
Budapest Hungary

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • • The Science, Theology, and Humane Philosophy project: Central and Eastern European Perspectives.
  • The Leverhulme Trust
  • University of Oxford
  • The Mind Association

All speakers:

Oxford University
Central European University
Nottingham University
Central European University
Universität Tübingen
Oxford University
Central European University
Brandeis University


Central European University
Oxford University

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


We will be exploring the fundamental issue of "perceptual presence" , a central concept to understanding the phenomena of perception and of sensory experience and that has been at the centre of much recent work. We will also look critically at just how fundamental this concept as, as well as asking questions as to how the notion is to be understood and how it might be applied, especially within the context of various different theories of perceptual experience and the mind.
All are welcome at this event - undergraduates, graduates, faculty - anyone with an interest in the topic. Please contact either myself or Rob Hoveman by way of registering for the event. And do let us know if you would like to join for dinner Thursday evening.
Contact me (Alex moran) at: alexander.moran@philosophy.ox.ac.uk Contact Rob Hoveman at: hoveman_frederick@phd.ceu.edu 
Abstract/Description of event.

It seems essential to understanding the notion of perception that we grasp notion of presence: that is, the notion of an object being present to the mind. Bertand Russell, admittedly without argument, though perhaps beacause he found the claim so deeply compelling, took the notion of aquaintance as central to understanding the mental as such, and it is clear that Russell took the converse of acquaintance to be the relation of presentation. As Russell puts it: "To say that S has acquaintance with O is to say that O is presented to S". Now it is seems very natural to follow Russell in thinking that the notion of presence is fundamental to developing any adequate theory of mind, and hence as central to reaching any adequate understanding of perceptual experience in particular. So, presence seems to be an essential feature of perception that any theory of that phenomenon must account for. We have to grasp this notion, it seems, and see how it can be applied, if in this domain we are to command a clear view of matters.   But now various questions arise. What does it take for an object to be present to the mind? Can we have perceptual presence in not merely sensory but also "intellectual" cases - can there be non-sensory and yet perceptual or quasi-perceptual presence of universals, say? What kind of item or items, anyway, can we be perceptually presented with in perceptual and other kinds of experience? Is, indeed, the notion of perceptual presence fundamental in the way that Russell thinks, to understanding perception, experience, and the mind? If so, how is the notion of presence to be analysed? In terms of sense data, and thus in terms of certain mind-dependent or non-physical objects of experience, which are immediately present in perceptual experience? Or rather in terms of the currently popular notion of representation, as on widespread intentional approaches? In which case we must ask: what is the link between intentionality and presence?
  For naive realist theories, of course, it is mind-independent objects and their sensory properties that are present in perceptual experience and that are constitutive of it. Moroever, the notion of presence is to be taken as basic, at least within many such frameworks. But what does that mean, exactly? Is the notion entirely brute? Or can we say something illuminating about it? Can we make sense of presence in physical terms if we view it as brute? (Must naive realists even say that presence is brute? Must sense-datum theorists say this? Can they distinguish their view from representationalism without doing so?)
And what of neglected adverbialism? Can adverbialists make any sense of presence at all - especially of ordinary objects?
  The phenomenon of presence seems familiar, everyday, well-known. Yet it is deeply puzzling and raises many philosophical issues. In this way, the notion of presence is like many other interesting philosophical concepts, and it is especially, in this way, like many other interesting mental concepts, not least consciousness itself, at once familiar and yet deeply baffling. With this workshop, we hope to make real progress  understanding the notion of presence and the role that it must play - should it play one at all - in a theory of perecption, experience and mind as such.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




March 22, 2020, 6:00pm CET

RSVP below

Who is attending?

1 person is attending:

Alex Moran

See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.