Seeing and saying: The language of perception and the representational view of experience

Berit Brogaard

Research output: Book/ReportBook

11 Scopus citations


We often communicate with each other about how the things we see visually appear to us when we want to achieve a goal like finding the perfect end table, deciding what to eat or issuing a warning. But what do we say when we talk about how things visually appear to us? Can our talk about appearances tell us anything about the nature of visual perception? In this book, the author delves into these questions, defending the view that in spite of all its imprecision, the language used to report on how things look provides important insight into the nature of visual perception. In chapters that explore the semantics of ‘appear’ words and the nature of the mental states they are used to express, she argues that considerations of how we talk and think about our experiences can help us establish that our visual experiences are akin to mental states, such as belief and desire, in being relations to contents, or propositions, that represent things and features in the perceiver’s environment. Along the way, she argues against alternative theories of what our talk about looks can tell us, including those of Chisholm, Jackson, Byrne, Johnston, Martin, Brewer, Travis, Siegel, Schellenberg, and Glüer. Finally, she examines how our talk about visual experience compares to our talk about how things sound, smell, taste and feel. This book is thus an extended defense of the view that experience in creatures like us is representational.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages206
ISBN (Electronic)9780190495251
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Epistemic looks
  • High-level properties
  • Intentionality
  • Naïve realism
  • Perceptual content
  • Perceptual report
  • Phenomenal looks
  • Representational view of experience
  • Semantics of ‘look’
  • Visual seeming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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