Disjunctivism, Perceptual Presence and the Idea of Religious Experience

Monday 27 May 2024, 4 pm - 5:30 pm

Perception provides grounds for knowledge. In seeing a scene before us, we can come to know facts about it. A perennial problem for the philosophy of perception is that of distinguishing between a ‘good case’ of veridical experience and ‘bad cases,’ such as hallucinations or illusions. Epistemological disjunctivists sideline this problem by making two strong claims about perception's epistemic value: (1) experience guarantees the knowledgeable character of perceptual beliefs; (2) experience’s epistemic value is “reflectively accessible,” meaning that the subject can be self-aware of having an opportunity for knowledge, i.e. being presented with a ‘good case.’

In this lecture Dr. David de Bruijn develops a distinct version of disjunctivism, which he will argue is particularly relevant for thinking about religious experiences. This version places special emphasis on the nature of perceptual self-awarenes. Traditionally, epistemological disjunctivism has been motivated by the idea that we perceive facts. By contrast, on De Bruijn’s view the subject is self-aware of being presented with the objects and properties in her environment. He argues that this presentational disjunctivism has both dialectical and philosophically fundamental advantages over more traditional expositions.

The lecture subsequently turns to the way disjunctivism may shed light on traditional debates concerning religious experience. Notoriously, it is unclear how revelation or religious experience is to be credited with epistemic value - if at all. The lecture explores the idea that this question, too, turns on the nature of self-awareness. The lecture will be followed up with a reply from our colleague Harmen Ghijsen.

Monday 27 May 2024, 4 pm - 5:30 pm
Dr H.J.H. Ghijsen (Harmen), David de Bruijn
Erasmus building