This paper defends a dynamic model of the way in which perception is integrated with action, a model I refer to as ‘the navigational account’. According to this account, employing vision and other forms of distance perception, a creature acquires information about its surroundings via the senses, information that enables it to select and navigate routes through its environment, so as to attain objects that satisfy its needs. This form of perceptually guided activity should be distinguished from other kinds of (...) semi-automatic responses to visual stimuli that do not necessarily involve conscious experiences. It essentially involves inner states, which involve both the awareness of phenomenal qualities, and also a representational component. The navigational account is compared here with the enactive approach to perception, which opposes the view that perceptual experiences are inner states. This paper argues that a full account of perception raises a number of different questions. One central explanatory project concerns questions about the kinds of processes that currently enable a creature to identify and respond appropriately to distant objects: the answer, it is argued, lies in acknowledging the role of conscious inner representations in guiding navigational behaviour through complex environments. The fact that perception and action are interdependent does not conflict with the claim that inner representational states comprise an essential stage in visual processing. (shrink)
This paper examines the contents of perceptual experience, and focuses in particular on the relation between the representational aspects of an experience and its phenomenal character. It is argued that the Critical Realist two-component analysis of experience, advocated by Wilfrid Sellars, is preferable to the Intentionalist view. Experiences have different kinds of representational contents: both informational and intentional. An understanding of the essential navigational role of perception provides a principled way of explaining the nature of such representational contents. Experiences also (...) have a distinct phenomenal content, or character, which is not determined by representational content. (shrink)
Robert Brandom makes several mistakes in his discussion of Sellars's "Two-Ply" account of observation. Brandom does not recognize the difference in "level" between observation reports concerning physical objects and 'looks'-statements. He also denies that 'looks'-statements are reports or even make claims. They then demonstrate a more correct reading of Sellars on 'looks'-statements.
Experiences of all kinds have a distinctive character, which marks them out as intrinsically different from states of consciousness such as thinking. A plausible view is that the difference should be accounted for by the fact that, in having an experience, the subject is somehow immediately aware of a range of phenomenal qualities. For example, in seeing, grasping and tasting an apple, the subject may be aware of a red and green spherical shape, a certain feeling of smoothness to touch, (...) and a sweet sensation. Such phenomenal qualities are also immediately present in hallucinations. According to the sense-data theory, phenomenal qualities belong to items called “sense-data.” In having a perceptual experience the subject is directly aware of, or acquainted with, a sense-datum, even if the experience is illusory or hallucinatory. The sense-datum is an object immediately present in experience. It has the qualities it appears to have. (shrink)
The problem of the richness of visual experience is that of finding principled grounds for claims about how much of the world a person actually sees at any given moment. It is argued that there are suggestive parallels between the two-component analysis of experience defended by Wilfrid Sellars, and certain recently advanced information processing accounts of visual perception. Sellars' later account of experience is examined in detail, and it is argued that there are good reasons in support of the claim (...) that the sensory nonconceptual content of experience can vary independently of conceptual awareness. It is argued that the Sellarsian analysis is not undermined by recent work on change blindness and related phenomena; a model of visual experience developed by Ronald Rensink is shown to be in essential harmony with the framework provided by Sellars, and provides a satisfactory answer to the problem of the richness of visual experience. (shrink)
A cluster of experiments on “Change Blindness”, “Inattentional Blindness” and associated phenomena appear to demonstrate extremely counter intuitive results. According to one plausible characterisation, these results show that we consciously take in far less of the visual world than it seems we are aware of. It is worth briefly summarising the results of two recent sets of experiments, in order to give a flavour of this work. In ‘Gorillas in our Midst’ (Simons, D. and Chabris, C., Perception, 1999, 28), subjects (...) were asked to perform a task that involved watching a video of a casual basketball game that lasts for about a minute. The task involves counting the number of consecutive passes between members of the one of the teams. While the basketball is being thrown from player to player, something unexpected takes place: a person dressed in a black gorilla-suit walks through the play, stops briefly in the centre of the picture, thumps his chest, and then walks off. Although most subjects correctly record the number of passes made by the team, at least half of these subjects fail to notice the gorilla-suited interloper, who is visible for about nine seconds. When shown the video sequence a second time they are amazed to observe what they had previously overlooked. (shrink)
The subjective character of a given experience leaves open the question of its precise status. If it looks to a subject K as if there is an object of a kind F in front of him, the experience he is having could be veridical, or hallucinatory. Advocates of the Causal Theory of perception (whom I shall call.
Much recent discussion about the nature of perception has focused on the dispute between the Causal Theory of Perception and the rival Disjunctive View. There are different versions of the Causal Theory (the abbreviation I shall use), but the point upon which they agree is that perception involves a conscious experience which is logically distinct from the particular physical object perceived. 1 On the opposed Disjunctive View, the perceptual experience is held to be inseparable from the object perceived; what is (...) directly present to conscious experience is, literally, part of the physical environment. 2 One prima facie difficulty the Causal Theory appears to face is the problem of deviant causal chains, of providing sufficient conditions for perception; I shall not address this difficulty directly, though some of my concluding remarks will bear on it. My main aim in this paper is to show that, despite the deviant causal chains problem, the Causal Theory is to be preferred to the rival Disjunctive View. (shrink)
The issue of what distinguishes systems which have original intentionalityfrom those which do not has been brought into sharp focus by Saul Kripke inhis discussion of the sceptical paradox he attributes to Wittgenstein.In this paper I defend a sophisticated version of the dispositionalistaccount of meaning against the principal objection raised by Kripke in hisattack on dispositional views. I argue that the objection put by the sceptic,to the effect that the dispositionalist cannot give a satisfactory account ofnormativity and mistake, in fact (...) comprises a number of distinct lines ofargument, all of which can be satisfactorily answered by the dispositionalist. (shrink)
At the Intersection of High and Mass Culture analyses the contradictions and interaction between high and low art, with particular reference to Hollywood and European cinema. Written in the essayist, speculative tradition of Walter Benjamin and Theodore Adorno, this study also includes analyses of several key films of the 1980s. Tracing the boundaries of such genres as film noir, science fiction and melodrama, it demonstrates how these genres were radically expanded by such filmmakers as Neil Jordan, Chris Merker and Georges (...) Franju. This work also reflects on kitsch, the star system, racial and gender stereotypes, and the nature of audience participation. While defining the conditions under which the symbiotic relationship between high and mass culture can be cross-fertilising, this study stresses their inevitably contradictory characteristics. (shrink)