SublimAE seminar

Expertise and the contents of experience

Dustin Stokes (University of Utah)
Practical information
18 October 2021

ENS, Salle de réunion Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


This lecture begins with the thesis that thinking improves perceiving. Cases of perceptual expertise are cases where perceptual experience is, to some degree, optimized ; and the relevant improvements depend on the domain-sensitive cognitive learning of the expert. This has significant epistemic consequences (see Lecture 2), but it also has important consequences for how we theorize perceptual content. First, determinants of perceptual content are not Objective in a purely mind-independent sense ; they are inter-subjectively objective. They include facts about the environment, but also facts about the perceiver’s epistemic community, which can be very broad or quite narrow. Perceptual success, including accuracy, is determined in part by the task or goal of the perceiver, which can be specific to a domain, be it forensics or football. Second, enhanced perceptual sensitivity of this kind – to patterns, gestalts, and organizational features – is to enjoy rich perceptual content. Importantly, this lesson is partly learned by considering cases of perceiving aesthetic properties : The ballet instructor sees not only the colours, edges, shapes, and motion of her pupils but also how those features are organized in ways that are balanced or serene or graceful.


SublimAE (the Sublime and Aesthetic Experiences) seminar, in connection with SublimAE ANR project, will focus on the interdisciplinary study of Aesthetic Experiences with an eye to the sublime by bringing together philosophy, psychology, and social sciences. We will explore, on the one hand, how the experience of the sublime connects to other similar or contrast experiences (the beautiful, terrible beauty, awe, wonder, the uncanny, …), and, on the other hand, the impact these experiences, and more specifically aesthetic ones, have on our representation of the self. The seminar will feature presentations by members of the project, as well as by invited speakers.

Venue : Institut Jean Nicod meeting room

Contact : Margherita ArcangeliJérôme Dokic

For the full programme click here.