Sensorimotor skills and perception: Cognitive complexity and the sensorimotor frontier

Abstract
[Andy Clark] What is the relation between perceptual experience and the suite of sensorimotor skills that enable us to act in the very world we perceive? The relation, according to 'sensorimotor models' (O'Regan and Noë 2001, Noë 2004) is tight indeed. Perceptual experience, on these accounts, is enacted via skilled sensorimotor activity, and gains its content and character courtesy of our knowledge of the relations between (typically) movement and sensory stimulation. I shall argue that this formulation is too extreme, and that it fails to accommodate the substantial firewalls, dis-integrations, and special-purpose streamings that form the massed strata of human cognition. In particular, such strong sensorimotor models threaten to obscure the computationally potent insensitivity of key information-processing events to the full subtleties of embodied cycles of sensing and moving. /// [Naomi Eilan] The strong sensorimotor account of perception gives self-induced movements two constitutive roles in explaining visual consciousness. The first says that self-induced movements are vehicles of visual awareness, and for this reason consciousness 'does not happen in the brain only'. The second says that the phenomenal nature of visual experiences is consists in the action-directing content of vision. In response I suggest, first, that the sense in which visual awareness is active should be explained by appeal to the role of attention in visual consciousness, rather than self-induced movements; and second, that the sense in which perceptual consciousness does not happen in the brain only should be explained by appeal to the relational nature of perceptual consciousness, appeal to which also shows why links with action cannot exhaust phenomenal content
Keywords Cognition  Epistemology  Experience  Perception  Senses
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