Dr Samuel Matthews

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Research interests

My main research interests are the philosophy of perception, epistemology, and phenomenology. I’m particularly interested in therapeutic approaches to philosophy and attempts to restore our pre-theoretical openness to the world. 

In my PhD thesis, Recognition and Judgment, I argue that we should understand perceptual experience in terms of rational capacities for recognition. The advantage of this framing over other conceptualist accounts  – particularly McDowell’s post-Mind and World – is that it avoids picturing the activity of our perceptual capacities in terms of ‘shapings of sensory consciousness’. Instead, perceptual experience can be seen simply in terms of the recognition of things in our environment. A key outcome of this view is the elimination of the foundational role of the perceptual image. Instead, I argue that the perceptual image can be seen as a product of the subject’s self-conscious awareness of the fallibility of her capacities. 

My current research is building on these themes, with a particular focus on the origin of empirical conceptual capacities and the problem of abstraction. I am also hoping to expand on the links I draw in my thesis between contemporary conceptualist accounts of perceptual experience and Heidegger’s account of being-in-the-world.

Educational background

  • PhD. Recognition and Judgment: McDowell, Travis and Kant on Perceptual Experience. Royal Holloway: 2015-2019.
  • MA by Research (Distinction). On Seeing the Same Thing: Towards a Hermeneutics of Perception. Royal Holloway: 2014-2015.
  • BA (1 st Class Honours). Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy. Royal Holloway: 2010-2013.

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