Feature-placing and proto-objects

Philosophical Psychology 17 (4):443-469 (2004)
Abstract
This paper contrasts three different schemes of reference relevant to understanding systems of perceptual representation: a location-based system dubbed "feature-placing", a system of "visual indices" referring to things called "proto-objects", and the full sortal-based individuation allowed by a natural language. The first three sections summarize some of the key arguments (in Clark, 2000) to the effect that the early, parallel, and pre-attentive registration of sensory features itself constitutes a simple system of nonconceptual mental representation. In particular, feature integration--perceiving something as being both F and G, where F and G are sensible properties registered in distinct parallel streams--requires a referential apparatus. Section V. reviews some grounds for thinking that at these earliest levels this apparatus is location-based: that it has a direct and nonconceptual means of picking out places. Feature-placing is contrasted with a somewhat more sophisticated system that can identify and track four or five "perceptual objects" or "proto-objects", independently of their location, for as long as they remain perceptible. Such a system is found in Zenon Pylyshyn's fascinating work on "visual indices", in Dana Ballard's notion of deictic codes, and in Kahneman, Treisman, and Wolfe's accounts of systems of evanescent representations they call "object files". Perceptual representation is a layered affair, and I argue that it probably includes both feature-placing and proto-objects. Finally, both nonconceptual systems are contrasted with the full-blooded individuation allowed in a natural language
Keywords Epistemology  Feature  Object  Placing  Region
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    Ellen Fridland (2011). The Case for Proprioception. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (4):521-540.
    Anna Farennikova (2013). Seeing Absence. Philosophical Studies 166 (3):429-454.

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