BSP Podcast: Bernardo Ainbinder – Heidegger on colour-perception

podcast update

Our podcast takes a mid-season break with another panel presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference in 2016.

Season 1 episode 7: 13 January 2017

This recording is of Bernardo Ainbinder’s presentation ‘Heidegger on colour-perception. A case for conceptualism in phenomenology’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “In this paper, I will tackle a question that has been absent in the literature, namely, what is Heidegger’s conception of colour-perception. Heidegger himself, unlike many phenomenologists, including Husserl, is silent about the topic. There may a be a good reason for that: since he insists on the primacy of meaningful holistic coping with the world, considering colours as an isolated topic may well be the result of adopting a theoretical privative point of view on experience that Heidegger rejects. I think this approach to the problem is wrongheaded. Heidegger’s description of experience does not privilege some phenomena (say tools or meanings) vis-a-vis others (things, colours and the like) but a way of understanding experience in general (as organized in terms of a whole of meaningful relations where each single thing is defined by its normative import for the whole) vis-a-vis a a way of understanding it in terms of atomic items and stratified properties. I will call Heidegger’s conception of experience a normative conceptual one (see Golob 2014). Against this background, in this paper I will explore what Heidegger has to say about colours. In particular, I will claim: 1. that Heidegger’s description of Umsicht, i.e. the way of coping with the world as a meaningful whole, is not limited to the typical forms of practical coping he explicitly mentions but can be extended to the analysis of basic cases such as colour-perception. 2. that such analyses provides some new and interesting insights into what perceiving colours means (some surprising points of contact with Sellars’ analysis in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind may be drawn here). 3. that colours provide a prime example of Heidegger’s normative conceptual conception of experience.  4. that some Heidegger-inspired approaches to the topic such as Kelly’s are misguided.  Kelly (2001) claimed that colour perception is a very good candidate to deny conceptualism, i.e. the thesis that contents of experience involve a form of articulation that is at least similar to the one expressed in judgment. I will claim, on the contrary, that colour perception is an excellent candidate to show in which sense conceptualism is true, precisely by analysing Kelly’s examples of colour sorting.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.