I’m an academic philosopher who works on the nature of perception. I’m interested in perceptual experience. Often it’s just referred to as consciousness. When you look around, there’s “something it’s like” (to quote a famous philosopher) for you to see from your inner point of view. A camera, in contrast, is dark on the inside as it takes pictures. It lacks perceptual experience, i.e. consciousness. Right now the focus of my work is on how neural activity in the brain relates to perceptual experience. What is the contribution of neural activity to experience? What contribution does the external world itself make? Another line of research I’ve pursued examines how perceptual experience of the world enables us to get what we perceive “in mind” so that we can think about it. What role does experience play in allowing us to think about the world? To answer these questions I draw on work from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and (of course) philosophy.

For more about my academic work, check out my curriculum vitae, or visit me on academia.edu, philpeople, or linkedin.


Recent Work:


  1. June 7-8, 2019: Experiencing What’s Not There. I’m running a workshop with Mohan Matthen at the University of Toronto on recent philosophical and scientific work on hallucinations, dreams, imagination, and virtual reality. The workshop will bring together nine top experts, both philosophers and scientists, to discuss their latest work.

  2. February 23-24, 2019: Dreams, Hallucinations and Imagination. I presented my paper “What should the externalist say is missing from dream experience?” at this workshop by the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience at the University of Glasgow.

  3. February 20-23, 2019: APA Central. I presented my paper “The role of visual representations in seeing” at the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting in Denver.


About Me


Currently I’m a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Network for Sensory Research in the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto Mississauga. In that position I work with Mohan Matthen. I completed my Ph.D. in philosophy at Rice University in 2015, working under Casey O’Callaghan. I grew up in a small town in southeast Pennsylvania, about an hour northwest of Philadelphia. In addition to my academic work, I also race as an amateur track cyclist. I got into the sport while still living in Houston, right after I finished my Ph.D. at Rice. I’ve raced and trained at Alkek Velodrome, T-town, and Mattamy National Cycling Center.

I can be reached at michael.barkasi [at] utoronto.ca.

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