The Rationality of Perception
This event includes a book signing
April 21, 2017
3:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store, Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and Mass Humanities welcome Harvard's Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy SUSANNA SIEGEL, prize-winning author of The Contents of Visual Experience, for a discussion of her latest book, The Rationality of Perception.
About The Rationality of Perception
On a traditional conception of the human mind, reasoning can be rational or irrational, but perception cannot. Perception is simply a source of new information, and cannot be assessed for rationality. Susanna Siegel argues that this conception is wrong. Drawing on examples involving racism, emotion, self-defense law, and scientific theories, The Rationality of Perception makes the case that perception itself can be rational or irrational.
The Rationality of Perception argues that reasoning and perception are often deeply intertwined. When unjustified beliefs, fears, desires, or prejudices influence what we perceive, we face a philosophical problem: is it reasonable to strengthen what one believes, fears, or suspects, on the basis of an experience that was generated, unbeknownst to the perceiver, by those very same beliefs, fears, or suspicions? Siegel argues that it is not reasonable-even though it may seem that way to the perceiver. In these cases, a perceptual experience may itself be irrational, because it is brought about by irrational influences.
Siegel systematically distinguishes a number of different kinds of influences on perception, and builds a theory of how such influences on perception determine what it's rational or irrational to believe. She uses the main conclusions to analyze perceptual manifestations of racism. This book makes vivid the far-reaching consequences of psychological and cultural influences on perception. Its method shows how analytic philosophy, social psychology, history and politics can be mutually illuminating.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars.
The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at ethics.harvard.edu.
Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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