This paper seeks to identify, clarify, and perhaps rehabilitate the virtual reality metaphor as applied to the goal of understanding consciousness. Some proponents of the metaphor apply it in a way that implies a representational view of experience of a particular, extreme form that is indirect, internal and inactive (what we call «presentational virtualism»). In opposition to this is an application of the metaphor that eschews representation, instead preferring to view experience as direct, external and enactive («enactive virtualism»). This paper seeks to examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of these virtuality-based positions in order to assist the development of a related, but independent view of experience: virtualist representationalism. Like presentational virtualism, this third view is representational, but like enactive virtualism, it places action centre stage, and does not require, in accounting for the richness of visual experience, global representational «snapshots» corresponding to the entire visual field to be tokened at any one time.
- enactive perception
- virtual reality