Alfredo Vernazzani: “Memory and the phenomenology of aspect seeing”

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Vernazzani (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) in-person at the University of Bochum and online, for the Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium 24 November 16:15 CET.

The Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium announces the talk “Memory and the phenomenology of aspect seeing” by Dr Alfredo Vernazzani (Ruhr University of Bochum) on Thursday, November 24th, 16:15 CET (UTC+1). A schedule of all the colloquium talks is available at: and

The talk will take place in person at the University of Bochum, in GA 04/187 (Mercator room) and broadcast on Zoom. If you want to join through Zoom, use the details below. Registration is not necessary.

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 912 7001 7621 / password: 306406

To ensure that the in-person audience and the remote audience will be on equal footing, the organisers kindly ask that in-person participants bring their laptop or tablet (with a camera).

Abstract for the talk: An influential line of thought — represented by Strawson (1982) and Wollheim (1980) — takes aspects to either be identical with or constitutively involve concepts. Consider the case of Jastrow’s figure. According to conceptualism about seeing-as, for you to see it as a duck or as a rabbit, you must possess and bring to bear the concepts of DUCK and RABBIT on your perceptual experience. Conceptualism seems able to do justice to Wittgenstein’s claim that aspects seem to possess features of both thought and seeing (PPF 140, 182), as well as to the Kantian thesis (1781/1787) that the unity and sense of our experiences is at least in part a subjective contribution. Recently, Avner Baz (2016, 2018, 2020a, 2020b) has sought to rehabilitate a non-conceptual account of seeing-as in the spirit of Travis’s naïve realism (2013, 2015, 2016). Basing on Travis’s reflections on concepts and experience, Baz argues that aspects lack the generality of concepts and that they exhibit conceptual indeterminacy. His positive thesis is that aspects are Gestalt-like internal relations, and that this vindicates the Kantian thesis in a non-conceptual way. Baz’s reflections are insightful and brilliantly illuminate the philosophical intricacies of aspect perception. However, I argue that he has ultimately failed to produce a convincing account of aspects. First, I point at some difficulties with Baz’s own positive account, and in particular the trouble in accommodating Wittgenstein’s phenomenological remarks on aspects. Next, taking stock of Baz’s remarks and building on my previous point, I suggest that the phenomenology of noticing aspects constitutively involves the active mobilization of memory structures, not limited to mere semantic knowledge. My account thus suggests that memory plays an important role in determining the phenomenal character of (at least some) visual experiences; furthermore, it enables us to recover an account of the meaningfulness of experience close to Bartlett’s (1932).

The Bochum-Grenoble Memory Colloquium is organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Memory at the Université Grenoble Alpes (Kourken Michaelian and Nikola Andonovski) and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Markus Werning and Francesca Righetti).