Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2021-22, Session 30

A perceptual sense of the future
Frédérique de Vignemont (Institut Jean-Nicod)

03 June 2022, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET) | Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: Car drivers and sportspeople are extremely good at predicting if and when an object may impact them, what is known in the literature as time-to-collision. This anticipatory dimension is revealed in the relatively primitive sense of impending collision that we can sometimes experience, typically just a few seconds before being hit, something like “This is going to crash into me!”. For instance, many times in movies (especially in 3D), video games, and in virtual reality, we have the strong impression – though mistaken – that something is going to hit us even though we know that nothing can reach us, seated in our safe living room. How, then, to best characterize this anticipatory form of awareness? Is there a sense in which one can be said to have a perceptual sense of the close future? Here, I shall reply positively, taking as a starting point the phenomenon of amodal completion. It indeed reveals that one can be perceptually aware of more than the visual inputs that one receives. As with most of the literature on perception, the phenomenon of completion has been studied mainly in static scenes, for shape and object, but I shall argue that a similar phenomenon can occur for dynamic events such as motion. I shall then propose that thanks to amodal completion, one is aware of the whole event of the looming of the object towards one’s body, including its possible end that has not happened yet. As a consequence, our perceptual experience is not only about the present, the looming motion unfolding under our eyes. It is also about the future.


The room has a limited number of seats. Pre-registration is required at <> until a day before the event.