Hg.: Lambert Wiesing

The Philosophy of Perception - Phenomenology and Image Theory

literal translation of original German title: The Philosophy of Perception. Models and Reflections
(German title: Philosophie der Wahrnehmung)
ca. 400 pages
Lambert Wiesing
Foto: Lambert Wiesing
© Jürgen Bauer

Lambert Wiesing, born in 1963, is Professor of Philosophy, Image Theory and Phenomenology at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena. His areas of specialisation are phenomenology, cognitive and image theory, and aesthetics. From 2005 to 2008 Wiesing was president of the German Society for Aesthetics. In 2015, he was awarded the Aby Warburg Foundation Prize.

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English world rights (Bloomsbury), Italy (Marinotti)


Lambert Wiesing's The Philosophy of Perception challenges current theories of perception. Instead of attempting to understand how a subject perceives the world, Wiesing starts by taking perception to be real. He then asks what this reality means for a subject.

In his original approach, the question of how human perception is possible is displaced by questions about what perception obliges us to be and do. He argues that perception requires us to be embodied, to be visible, and to continually participate in the public and physical world we perceive. Only in looking at images, he proposes, can we achieve something like a break in participation, a temporary respite from this, one of perception's relentless demands.

Wiesing's methods chart a markedly new path in contemporary perception theory. In addition to identifying common ground among diverse philosophical positions, he identifies how his own, phenomenological approach differs from those of many other philosophers, past and present. As part of the argument, he provides a succinct but comprehensive survey of the philosophy of images His original critical exposition presents scholars of phenomenology, perception and aesthetics with a new, important understanding of the old phenomenon, the human being in the world. (book description from the English edition by Bloomsbury.)


»[…] an enormously stimulating book, rich in ideas, subtle in its argumentation, and sometimes funny as well. Beyond this it is, with its confident polarisation of theses and its underlying phenomenological orientation, a daring work in the best sense.« Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Philosophie

»Wiesing presents the background, implications and justification of this central idea with startling clarity and impressive breadth as well as argumentative stringency; […] Wiesing's book may be read as a new basic theory of the way we understand ourselves as perceiving beings.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Wiesing reaches his conclusions by employing a phenomenological method that may be unfamiliar to philosophers raised in the ›analytic‹ tradition. This makes the book a stimulating contribution.« Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

»Lambert Wiesing not only provides an original and illuminating treatment of the core issues in the philosophy of perception he radically recasts the terms of the debate and extends the field of enquiry, including a thought-provoking discussion of the transformation brought about by the perception of images. It is a major achievement that this important book has now made been made available to English-speaking readers.« Jason Gaiger, University of Oxford

»Writing with wonderful clarity, Wiesing illuminates and re-orientates our understanding of perception, self and world. He also re positions the role of image-perception, and our understanding of what constitutes an image, in this context. Highly recommended.« Kathleen Lennon, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hull

»This radical rethinking of the philosophy of perception fascinates by casting old issues in a new light and giving prominence to topics - such as the perception of images - that orthodox thinking is condemned to treat as marginal. The book is bold, original, full of challenging ideas and makes a powerful case for changing our approach to this central philosophical problem.« Robert Hopkins, Professor of Philosophy, New York University

»Already in its original German version, Lambert Wiesing's The Philosophy of Perception has had an unusually deep and specific impact on contemporary philosophical discussions, both on the ›analytic‹ and ›continental‹ sides of the epistemological divide. In a present both desirous of a return to cognitive realism and with an awareness of its impossibility, this is the resonance of a book that, on the one side, posits ›perception‹ as a reality, and, on the other, patiently unravels the challenging of this ›reality‹ for the human mind.« Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guérard Professor in Literature, Stanford University

»Lambert Wiesing's The Philosophy of Perception is a revolutionary rethinking of the philosophy of perception and image perception. Employing skilful phenomenology and philosophy ›without models‹, Wiesing presents an uncompromising critique of established theories of perception and takes huge strides in a new direction. Embodiment and identity are among the topics transformed by examining the necessary a priori consequences of the reality of perception. The book contains invigorating argument and surprising developments on every page. It should be essential reading for anyone working in the philosophy of images.« Dawn Wilson, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Hull

»Wiesing provides a subtle, original, and erudite assessment of the situation in contemporary philosophy of perception, along with a bold proposal for reorienting the field. Written in an inviting style-and nicely translated-this book reaches out both to phenomenologists and those unfamiliar with what phenomenology has to offer. Wiesing cares deeply about what philosophy is and ought to be, and anyone with similar concerns will find this an engaging read.« John Kulvicki, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dartmouth College

Other publications

Luxus/Luxury (2015)

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