Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Eric Mandelbaum

Committee Members

Jesse Prinz

John Greenwood

Subject Categories

Other Philosophy | Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Science


philosophy of perception; bodily perception; proprioception; interoception; cognitive science; perception


Visual perception dominates the philosophical study of perception. This dissertation shows that a complete understanding of the nature of perception as a general category requires a consideration of the nature of the bodily modalities such as interoception, proprioception, pain, touch, and thermoception. By understanding these modalities, we come closer to understanding the nature of perception (what it is, how it works, and what systems it encompasses). While non-visual modalities have been gaining more attention in philosophy, much of this work looks to philosophical issues particular to these modalities—not necessarily how they relate to questions about the nature of perception in general. Thus, despite increasing work on non-visual modalities, visual perception still maintains as the dominant model of what perception—in general—is like, for visual perception is so commonly and unquestioningly used as a model for perception as a phenomenon.

The overarching strategy of this dissertation is to analyze the similarities and differences between the bodily senses and uncontroversially perceptual faculties (such as vision and audition). Then, it looks at what these differences and similarities—the relationships between the various modalities—mean for understanding the nature of perception. It shows that claims about visual perception cannot and should not be uncritically extended to perception in general if perception in general includes the bodily modalities, for the bodily modalities do not necessarily work in the exact same way as vision. It also shows that there are good reasons for thinking that the bodily modalities belong in the perceptual category and are thus relevant to understanding perceptual as a general phenomenon. However, it does this in slightly different ways in each chapter, each with a different focus.