Samuel Todes’s Account of Non–conceptual Perceptual Knowledge and its Relation to Thought



Samuel Todes’s book, Body and World, makes an important contribution to the current debate among analytic philosophers concerning non–conceptual intentional content and its relation to thought. Todes’s relevant theses are: (1) Our unified, active body, in moving to meet our needs, generates a unified, spatio–temporal field. (2) In that field we use our perceptual skills to make the determinable perceptual objects that show up relatively determinate. (3) Once we have made the objects of practical perception determinate, we can make ‘practical perceptual judgements’ about them. Such ‘judgements’ have conditions of satisfaction, but they are non–conceptual in that they are a way of coping with an actual object in this situation, from this point of view, in this light, in this orientation, and so forth. (4) By withholding our activity, however, we can transform our practical perception into a detached, spectatorial perception of qualities that are experienced as independent of the object they qualify. (5) Thanks to our conceptual imagination, we can then treat these qualities as reidentifiable properties of reidentifiable objects that can be entertained by thought.