A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
Perceiving As : Non-conceptual Forms of Perception in Medieval Philosophy (2020)

Toivanen, J. (2020). Perceiving As : Non-conceptual Forms of Perception in Medieval Philosophy. In E. Băltuță (Ed.), Medieval Perceptual Puzzles : Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries (pp. 10-37). Brill. Investigating Medieval Philosophy, 13. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004413030_003

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Toivanen, Juhana

Parent publication: Medieval Perceptual Puzzles : Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries

Parent publication editors: Băltuță, Elena

ISBN: 978-90-04-40847-0

eISBN: 978-90-04-41303-0

Journal or series: Investigating Medieval Philosophy

ISSN: 1879-9787

Publication year: 2020

Number in series: 13

Pages range: 10-37

Number of pages in the book: 398

Publisher: Brill

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004413030_003

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66701


This chapter focuses on thirteenth-century Latin discussions concerning the psychological processes that explain some of the most sophisticated features of perceptual experience. Sense perception primarily conveys information about the sensible qualities of external objects; we see colours, hear sounds, taste flavours, and so forth. Yet, our experience of the external world contains several elements that cannot be reduced to these qualities. To name a few, external objects are perceived as three-dimensional bundles of properties, as useful or harmful for the perceiving subject, and as objects of desires, fears, and other emotions, and they are conceptualised in various ways—in short, they are perceived as something.
It is well known that medieval philosophers recognised these and other similar phenomena. They analysed various elements of perceptual experience, which are not (or cannot be) directly apprehended by the external senses. In order to account for these elements, they argued that in addition to the five external senses, several so-called internal senses contribute to perception. The leading idea in their approach was to divide complex psychological processes into sub-processes or functions that can then be attributed to various internal senses, and analysed separately.
An analysis of medieval views from the perspective of the interplay between external and internal senses allows us to understand the complexity of perceptual experience. This chapter will (1) specify different types of ‘perceiving as’ that medieval authors recognised, (2) explain what kind of additions these processes make to perception, (3) suggest two heuristic models that can be used to analyse medieval theories, and (4) ask where the limit between conceptual and non-conceptual perception lies.

Keywords: philosophy; Middle Ages; perceptions (mental objects); senses

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:04