Seeing an Aspect and Seeing under an Aspect

Brian O’Shaughnessy

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:
Seeing an Aspect and Seeing under an Aspect

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This chapter is concerned to show how Wittgenstein’s later-period discussions of the varieties of aspect perception call attention to the fact that understanding is centrally and irreducibly involved in visual experience. When we see the duck-rabbit as a duck, the visual experience cannot accurately be broken down into parts, separating “the exercise of the Understanding in visual experience and the visual experiencing of the ‘understood’ visibilia,” O’Shaughnessy says. The chapter claims that even ordinary, everyday seeing of a fork, say, involves seeing the fork as a fork, although it notes that Wittgenstein himself may not have been prepared to go that far. Nevertheless, it will be of interest to those who have followed this chapter’s author’s own distinctive and influential contributions to the philosophy of perception to see how much common ground there appears to be between him and Wittgenstein on these issues, and in particular on the specific ways in which they take the understanding to be central to perception. Close readers of this author’s work know that, although decidedly not a Wittgensteinian, he has been influenced by Wittgenstein, and the chapter briefly describes that influence here for the first time in an anecdotal and charming preamble to his chapter.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; aspect perception; visual experience; understanding; duck-rabbit; gestalt

Chapter.  11136 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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