Video of David Chalmer’s lecture, Spatial Experience and Virtual Reality, has been posted on the Rotman Institute of Philosophy YouTube channel. Do virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift produce the illusion of an external reality? Or do they produce non-illusory experiences of a virtual reality? Chalmers addressed this question by starting with an analogous question about mirrors. When one looks in a mirror, does one undergo the illusion that there is someone on the other side of the mirror, or does one have a non-illusory experience of someone on this side of the mirror? He argues that at least for familiar users of mirrors, there is no illusion. Knowledge of mirrors provides a sort of cognitive orientation (a variety of cognitive penetration) that affects the content of visual experience and renders it non-illusory. He suggests that familiar users of virtual reality devices have a similar sort of cognitive orientation that renders their experience non-illusory.
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