Seeing Other People: An Enactivist Account of Hallucination as Perceptual Error
In this essay, I explore the difference between Representational Theories of Content (RTC) and Embodied Enactivism, and argue that enactivist approaches of perception can account for hallucinatory experiences, a sensory phenomenon readily explained by the RTC approaches. RTC bases perceptual activity on the presence of representational features interpreted by the brain, and are defined by their relation to independently existing objects. The enactivist model uses success and failure to determine whether or not a perception is hallucinatory by appealing to the use of all of the body’s sensory modalities to navigate a perceptual error. In Chapter two I present my arguments for an enactivist theory of hallucination, first by demonstrating that illusion and hallucination, broadly thought of as being two radically different phenomena, are actually one and the same. I also demonstrate how it is that bodily experiences affect the type of hallucination a patient will have, appealing to mood, repetitive tasks, and current environmental presences. My last strategy cleaves a wedge between visual imagery and hallucination, an assumption often made by representationalist accounts of cognition. RTC arguments made to support visual imagery are used to demonstrate how hallucinations are representational, but if the two experiences are actually different, then arguments for visual imagery become less convincing. Chapter three focuses on some lingering concerns and interesting implications of the enactivist theory. Veridicality differs from successful/failed perceptions by appealing to the degree with which the agent can make sense of their perceptions. I also argue how smaller misperceptions are hallucinatory, as well as how auditory hallucinations and multi-modal halluciations are also explainable to the enactivist. Dreams pose the last challenge I address, for they exhibit some embodied characteristics all the while being impervious to the success/failure metric of perceptual activity.
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