The Ockham Society (Week 8, TT18)

Ockham Society

"Experientialism and the problem of cognitive penetration"

Experientialist views dominate the epistemology of perception. Experientialists hold that in normal circumstances perceptual experiences (whether veridical or not) justify beliefs with suitably related contents. This thought is fleshed out in various ways by, for example, dogmatists like Huemer and Pryor, entitlement-theorists like Wright, and others. The phenomenon of cognitive penetration, in which a subject's mental states influence the contents of their perceptual experiences, poses a challenge for experientialists. For they seem to be committed to making false predictions about the justificatory power of cognitively penetrated experiences. In this paper I argue that the problem is intractable for internalist varieties of experientialism. In particular, I argue that the attempts of mentalist internalists like Siegel, Markie and McGrath to provide a satisfying experientialist account of cognitive penetration fail. Therefore, I suggest, if we want to be experientialists, we'll need to be externalists about epistemic justification.

"In what sense is technology a threat to Dasein? Heidegger’s philosophy of technology"

According to Heidegger, technology as a mode of revealing constrains the way in which different entities are revealed to us. However, insofar as we always adopt some mode of revealing in the background, we need to identify what is especially problematic about technology in comparison to other modes of revealing in order to call technology a “threat” to Dasein. It has recently been argued by Wrathall that the most distinctive feature of technology is its totalising power, at the heart of which lies the tranquilising effect on the different modes of thinking. Indeed, the technologisation of society is not produced by the development of advanced gadgets per se, but by the domination of technological mode of thinking, namely "calculative thinking", which drives the development of such gadgets and much more.

In this talk, I wish to present another way in which the tranquilising effect of technology poses a threat to Dasein, which is the inducement of inauthentic existence [Existenz]. Following Haugeland, authenticity can be understood as the transcendental condition for the possibility of agency (Haugeland, Truth and Finitude: Heidegger’s Transcendental Existentialism), and the objectlessness of technological revelation disables us from taking responsibility for our action.


Chair: Alice Evatt

Ockham Society Convenor: Charlotte Figueroa