Descartes' psychology of vision and cognitive science: The optics (1637) in the light of Marr's (1982) vision
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Psychology 11 (2):161 – 182 (1998)
In this paper I consider the relation between Descartes' psychology of vision and the cognitive science approach to psychology (henceforth CS). In particular, I examine Descartes' the Optics (1637) in the light of David Marr's (1982) position in CS. My general claim is that CS can be seen as a rediscovery of Descartes' psychology of vision. In the first section, I point to a parallel between Descartes' epistemological revolution, which created the modem version of the problem of perception, and the cognitive revolution. These fundamental revolutions in theoretical psychology were both inspired and legitimated by a revolution in mathematics. They took place in accordance with one of Marr's maxims: “To the desirable via the possible”. In the second section, I demonstrate that in the Optics, Descartes explains perception of metrical properties in a way that — on a detailed level — is in accordance with how Man argues that complex information processing systems have to be explained: both Descartes and Man emphasize the co-ordination of logical and physical analysis. In the third section, I claim that Descartes' arguments for a sharp distinction between mechanical transmission of sense data (sensation) and non-mechanical inferences on those sense data (thinking) are sound arguments seen from Man's position in CS. Descartes' arguments are based on his logical and physical analysis. Malebranche's radicalized version of Cartesian dualism turns Descartes' empirically-based assumption that mechanisms cannot realize inferences into a metaphysical assumption. In the final section, I argue that this metaphysical assumption contributes to an understanding of perception as a non-symbolic, non-inferential bottom-up process in mainstream monistic and mechanistic scientific psychology until the cognitive revolution.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
René Descartes (1984). The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Cambridge University Press.
William G. Lycan (ed.) (1990). Mind and Cognition: A Reader. Basil Blackwell.
John Haugeland (ed.) (1981). Mind Design. MIT Press.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Olli Lagerspetz (2002). Experience and Consciousness in the Shadow of Descartes. Philosophical Psychology 15 (1):5-18.
Robert Francescotti (1991). Externalism and Marr's Theory of Vision. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42 (June):227-38.
Peter A. Morton (1988). Marr's Theory of Vision and the Argument From Success. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:154 - 161.
Daniel Garber (1988). Descartes and Method in 1637. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:225-236.
Dale Jacquette (1996). Descartes' Lumen Naturale and the Cartesian Circle. Philosophy and Theology 9 (3-4):273-320.
Ned Block (2005). Review of Alva Noe, Action in Perception. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 102:259-272.
Jeffrey K. McDonough (forthcoming). Descartes' "Dioptrics" and Descartes' Optics. In Larry Nolan (ed.), The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Cambridge
John A. Schuster (2012). Physico-Mathematics and the Search for Causes in Descartes' Optics—1619–1637. Synthese 185 (3):467-499.
P. S. Kitcher (1988). Marr's Computational Theory of Vision. Philosophy of Science 55 (March):1-24.
Jeffrey McDonough (forthcoming). Descartes' Dioptrics and Descartes' Optics. In Nolan Larry (ed.), The Cambridge Descartes Lexicon. Cambridge
Added to index2010-05-07
Total downloads27 ( #143,654 of 1,796,538 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #466,493 of 1,796,538 )
How can I increase my downloads?