Touching Voids: On the Varieties of Absence Perception

Cavedon-Taylor, Dan (2017). Touching Voids: On the Varieties of Absence Perception. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 8(2) pp. 355–366.



Seeing one’s laptop to be missing, hearing silence and smelling fresh air; these are all examples of perceptual experiences of absences. In this paper I discuss an example of absence perception in the tactual sense modality, that of tactually perceiving a tooth to be absent in one’s mouth, following its extraction. Various features of the example challenge two recently-developed theories of absence perception: Farennikova’s memory-perception mismatch theory and Martin and Dockic’s meta-cognitive theory. I speculate that the mechanism underlying the experience is a body schema that has failed to update itself.

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