The two contrasting theoretical approaches to visual perception, the constructivist and the ecological, are briefly presented and illustrated through their analyses of space and size perception. Earlier calls for their reconciliation and unification are reviewed. Neurophysiological, neuropsychological, and psychophysical evidence for the existence of two quite distinct visual systems, the ventral and the dorsal, is presented. These two perceptual systems differ in their functions; the ventral system's central function is that of identification, while the dorsal system is mainly (...) engaged in the visual control of motor behavior. The strong parallels between the ecological approach and the functioning of the dorsal system, and between the constructivist approach and the functioning of the ventral system are noted. It is also shown that the experimental paradigms used by the proponents of these two approaches match the functions of the respective visual systems. A dual-process approach to visual perception emerges from this analysis, with the ecological-dorsal process transpiring mainly without conscious awareness, while the constructivist-ventral process is normally conscious. Some implications of this dual-process approach to visual-perceptual phenomena are presented, with emphasis on space perception. Key Words: constructivist; dual-process approach; ecological; size perception; space perception; two visual systems; visual perceptiontheories. (shrink)
A comparison of disjunctive theories of action and perception. The development of a theory of action that warrants the name, a disjunctive theory. On this theory, there is an exclusive disjunction: either an action or an event (in one sense). It follows that in that sense basic actions do not have events intrinsic to them.
The condition of ‘genuine perceptual synaesthesia’ has been a focus of attention in research in psychology and neuroscience over the last decades. For subjects in this condition stimulation in one modality automatically and consistently over the subject’s lifespan triggers a percept in another modality. In hearing→colour synaesthesia, for example, a specific sound experience evokes a perception of a specific colour. In this paper, I discuss questions and challenges that the phenomenon of synaesthetic experience raises for theories of perceptual (...) experience in general, and for theories thatsee the content and modality of conscious experience as being constituted and determined by the active and skilful exploration of the environment in particular. The focus of my paper will be on the latter, ‘enactive’ view of perception and its theory of what determines the modality-specific ‘feel’ of a perceptual experience. (shrink)
Some argue that Candrakīrti is committed to rejecting all theories of perception in virtue of the rejection of the foundationalisms of the Nyāya and the Pramāṇika. Others argue that Candrakīrti endorses the Nyāya theory of perception. In this paper, I will propose an alternative non-foundationalist theory of perception for Candrakīriti. I will show that Candrakrti’s works provide us sufficient evidence to defend a typical Prāsagika’s account of perception that, I argue, complements his core non-foundationalist ontology.
The paper aims to show, first, that O’Regan’s and Noë’s Sensorimotor Theory of Vision and Visual Experiences suffers from circularity, and that evidence from empirical research within perception psychology unequivocally invalidates their theory. Secondly, to show that the circularity in O’Regan’s and Noë’s theory of vision and in other general causal and functional theories of perception (i.e. Gibson’s and Marr’s theories of perception) is the inevitable consequence of mutually conflicting assumption of Cartesian dualism underlying these (...)theories. The paper concludes by outlining the consequences of this conflict of assumptions for psychological theories of perception. (shrink)
Comparisons are drawn between two theories of visual perception and two modes of information processing. Characteristics delineating dorsal and ventral visual systems lack internal consistency, probably because they are not completely separable. Mechanism is inherent when distinguishing these systems, and becomes more apparent with different processing domains. What is lacking is a more explicit means of linking these theories.
This dissertation explores several illuminating points of intersection between the philosophy of perception and the philosophy of vagueness. Among other things, I argue: (i) that it is entirely unhelpful to theorize about perception or consciousness using Nagelian "what it's like" talk; (ii) that a popular recent account of perceptual phenomenology (representationalism) conflicts with our best theory of vagueness (supervaluationism); (iii) that there are no vague properties, for Evans-esque reasons; (iv) that it is impossible to insert "determinacy" operators into (...) representationalism in a truth-preserving manner; and (v) that strong versions of dualism are unable to accommodate the possibility of borderline consciousness. (shrink)
: We seem to directly perceive external things. But can we? According to the time-lag argument, we cannot. What we directly perceive happens now. There is a time-lag between our perceptions and the external things we seem to directly perceive; these external things happen in the past; thus, what we directly perceive must be something else, for example, sense-data, and we can only at best indirectly perceive other things. This paper examines the time-lag argument given contemporary metaphysics. I argue that (...) this argument is not as compelling as it may initially seem. First, it denies that what we directly perceive can ever be what it seems to be; second, it conflicts with the current physical conception of time, relativity theory. This latter point leads to a more general one: the argument's force depends on a particular metaphysical conception on time, presentism, which is controversial in contemporary metaphysics of time. Given the alternative conception, eternalism, the argument is much less compelling. The overall argument of this paper, then, is that, if one wishes to hold that we directly perceive external things, we should subscribe to the latter view of time, i.e., eternalism. (shrink)
The causal theory of perception (CTP) has come under a great deal of critical scrutiny from philosophers of mind interested in the nature of perception. M. H. Newman's set-theoretic objection to Russell's structuralist version of the CTP, in his 1928 paper “Mr Russell's Causal Theory of Perception” has not, to my knowledge, figured in these discussions. In this paper I aim to show that it should: Newman's objection can be generalized to yield a particularly powerful and incisive (...) challenge to all versions of the CTP. In effect it says that if the CTP is true, at least one of the following claims must be false. (1) Our perception-based judgements are made true or false by the state of mind independent objects. (2) The concepts we use in such judgments refer to the intrinsic, mind-independent properties of such objects. (3) Experience provides us with knowledge of these properties. The paper sets out the structure of the problem as Newman saw it, extends it to current debates in theory of perception and considers various responses to it. The response I argue for involves jettisoning the CTP in favour of a relational account of perceptual experience, in a way that allows us to hold onto all three claims. (shrink)
In this paper, I will present an argument against Husserl’s analysis of picture consciousness. Husserl’s analysis of picture consciousness (as it can be found primarily in the recently translated volume Husserliana 23) moves from a theory of depiction in general to a theory of perceptual imagination. Though, I think that Husserl’s thesis that picture consciousness is different from depictive and linguistic consciousness is legitimate, and that Husserl’s phenomenology avoids the errors of linguistic theories, such as Goodman’s, I submit that (...) his overall theory is unacceptable, especially when it is applied to works of art. Regarding art, the main problem of Husserl’s theory is the assumption that pictures are constituted primarily as a conflict between perception/physical picture thing and imagination/picture object. Against this mentalist claim, I maintain, from a hermeneutic point of view, that pictures are the result of perceptual formations [Bildungen]. I then claim that Husserl’s theory fails, since it does not take into account what I call “plastic perception” [Bildliches Sehen], which plays a prominent role not only within the German tradition of art education but also within German art itself. In this connection, “plastic thinking” [Bildliches Denken] was prominent especially in Klee, in Kandinsky, and in Beuys, as well as in the overall doctrine of the Bauhaus. Ultimately, I argue that Husserl’s notion of picture consciousness and general perceptive imaginary consciousness must be replaced with a more dynamic model of the perception of pictures and art work that takes into account (a) the constructive and plastic moment, (b) the social dimension and (c) the genetic dimension of what it means to see something in something (Wollheim). (shrink)
This is a translation of the chapter on perception by Kumarilabhatta's magnum opus, the Slokavarttika , which is one of the central texts of the Hindu response to the criticism of the logical-epistemological school of Buddhist thought. It is crucial for understanding the debates between Hindus and Buddhists about metaphysical, epistemological and linguistic questions during the classical period. In an extensive commentary, the author explains the course of the argument from verse to verse and alludes to other theories (...) of classical Indian philosophy and numerous other technical matters. Notes to the translation and commentary go further into the historical and philosophical background of Kumarila's ideas. The book provides an introduction to the history and the development of Indian epistemology, a synopsis of Kumarila's work and an analysis of its argument. It is a valuable contribution to the field of Indian philosophical studies. (shrink)
We resist Schilbach et al.’s characterization of the “social perception” approach to social cognition as a “spectator theory” of other minds. We show how the social perception view acknowledges the crucial role interaction plays in enabling social understanding. We also highlight a dilemma Schilbach et al. face in attempting to distinguish their second person approach from the social perception view.
This book is a defence of a form of realism which stands closest to that upheld by the Nyãya-Vaid'sesika school in classical India. The author presents the Nyãya view and critically examines it against that of its traditional opponent, the Buddhist version of phenomenalism and idealism. His reconstruction of Nyãya arguments meets not only traditional Buddhist objections but also those of modern sense-data representationalists.
The title refers to theories that require a certain sort of relation between X and an experience of S in order that S perceive X. The relation might be causal, counterfactual, doxastic, or otherwise. It is argued against such theories that there are possible cases in which X stands in the required relation to an experience of S and S does not perceive X and cases in which X is perceived though it does not stand in the required (...) relation. (shrink)
Can theories of mental imagery, conscious mental contents, developed within cognitive science throw light on the obscure (but culturally very significant) concept of imagination? Three extant views of mental imagery are considered: quasi-pictorial, description, and perceptual activity theories. The first two face serious theoretical and empirical difficulties. The third is (for historically contingent reasons) little known, theoretically underdeveloped, and empirically untried, but has real explanatory potential. It rejects the "traditional" symbolic computational view of mental contents, but is compatible (...) with recent *situated cognition* and *active vision* approaches in robotics. This theory is developed and elucidated. Three related key aspects of imagination (non-discursiveness, creativity, and *seeing as*) raise difficulties for the other theories. Perceptual activity theory presents imagery as non-discursive and relates it closely to *seeing as*. It is thus well placed to be the basis for a general theory of imagination and its role in creative thought. (shrink)
This paper develops a novel problem for representationalism (also known as "intentionalism"), a popular contemporary account of perception. We argue that representationalism is incompatible with supervaluationism, the leading contemporary account of vagueness. The problem generalizes to naive realism and related views, which are also incompatible with supervaluationism.
In this paper I argue for a theory of perception distinct both from classical sense-datum theories and from intentionalist theories, that is theories according to which one perceives external objects by dint of a relation with a propositional content. The alternative I propose completely rejects any representational element in perception. When one sees that an object has a property, the situation or state of affairs of its having that property is one's perception, so that (...) the object and property are literally part of one's mind. The most obvious objection to this view is that it embodies a rampant form of idealism. It is argued to the contrary, via consideration of the metaphysics of situations, that the theory is entirely consistent with a robustly realist view of the world. (shrink)
There are currently two main philosophical theories of perception - Direct Realism and the Representative Theory. The former is supported by most contemporary philosophers, whereas the latter forms the groundwork for most scientific theories in this area. The paper describes a recent experiment involving retinal and cortical rivalry that provides strong empirical evidence that the Direct Realist theory is incorrect. There are of course a large number of related experiments on visual perception that would tend to (...) lead us to the same conclusion, but the experiment described in this paper does so in a singularly direct and straightforward manner. Often the most telling experiments are the simplest. (shrink)
Two arguments Paul Snowdon has brought against the causal theory of perception are examined. One involves the claim that, based on the phenomenology of perceptual situations, it cannot be the case that perception is an essentially causal concept. The other is a reductio , according to which causal theorists’ arguments imply that a proposition Snowdon takes to be obviously non-causal ( A is married to B ) can be analyzed into some sort of indefinite ‘spousal connection’ plus a (...) causal ingredient . I conclude that neither argument is sound. The reason that Snowdon’s critiques fail is that, since causal theories need not be about ‘effect ends’ that are internally manifest to perceivers, no such ostensibly separable, non-causal property as it being to S as if he were perceiving O need be an essential element in a causal theory of perception. (shrink)
Howard Robinson's Perception is now rightly regarded as essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the sense-datum theory of perception and its motivations. It should also be regarded as essential reading for those with a more general philosophical interest in perception and sensory consciousness. As well as discussing the history of the sense-datum theory, and the nature of sense-data and their relation to the physical world, Robinson offers critiques of physicalist theories of perception, intentional/representational (...) class='Hi'>theories, adverbial theories, and naive realist/disjunctivist theories. Along the way he also discusses Wittgenstein's private language argument and the nature of secondary qualities. Over the course of the book we are presented with a sustained, and forthright, defence of a sense-datum theory in its traditional form. The arguments are clear, briskly delivered, and challenging. Here I highlight two key elements in Robinson's case for a sense-datum theory, which I think pose an especially serious challenge for his opponents. These are his articulation and defence of the ‘phenomenal principle’ and his ‘revised’ causal argument for sense-data. (shrink)
Defending a form of naïve realism about visual experiences is quite popular these days. Those naïve realists who I will be concerned with in this paper make a central claim about the subjective aspects of perceptual experiences. They argue that how it is with the perceiver subjectively when she sees worldly objects is literally determined by those objects. This way of thinking leads them to endorse a form of disjunctivism, according to which the fundamental psychological nature of seeings and hallucinations (...) is distinct. I will oppose their central claim by defending a version of the so-called ‘causal argument’, which dwells on ideas about causation and explanation in perception. The aim of this discussion is to highlight that the subjective aspects of perceptual experiences cannot be explained in naïve realist terms. Instead, it will be argued that one needs to appeal to a mental factor which does not involve worldly objects as constituents, and which is common to seeings and hallucinations. (shrink)
When philosophers of perception contemplate concrete examples, the tendency is to choose perceptions whose content does not essentially involve time, but concern how things are at the moment they are perceived. This is true whether the cases are veridical (seeing a tree as a tree) or illusory (misperceiving the colour or spatial properties of an object). Less discussed, and arguably more complex and interesting cases do involve time as an essential element: perceiving movement, for example, or perceiving the order (...) and comparative duration of events. And, like other kinds of perception, time perception can involve illusions, such as the puzzling ‘stopped clock’ illusion. I want to suggest that these dynamic cases, and perhaps particularly those involving illusion, make a distinctive contribution to the direct realist/sense datum theory debate over perception, and they undermine a popular argument in favour of the objective passage of time, namely that passage is an ineliminable feature of our temporal experience. (shrink)
This article discusses the theories of perception of Robert Kilwardby and Peter of John Olivi. Our aim is to show how in challenging certain assumptions of medieval Aristotelian theories of perception they drew on Augustine and argued for the active nature of the soul in sense perception. For both Kilwardby and Olivi, the soul is not passive with respect to perceived objects; rather, it causes its own cognitive acts with respect to external objects and thus (...) allows the subject to perceive them. We also show that Kilwardby and Olivi differ substantially regarding where the activity of the soul is directed to and the role of the sensible species in the process, and we demonstrate that there are similarities between their ideas of intentionality and the attention of the soul towards the corporeal world. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for the cognitive impenetrability of perception by undermining the argument from reentrant pathways. To do that I will adduce psychological and neuropsychological evidence showing that (a) early vision processing is not affected by our knowledge about specific objects and events, and (b) that the role of the descending pathways is to enable the early-vision processing modules to participate in higher-level visual or cognitive functions. My thesis is that a part of observation, which I will (...) call perception, is bottom-up and theory neutral. As such, perception could play the role of common ground on which a naturalized epistemology can be built and relativism avoided. (shrink)
Perceptions are often merely regarded as the basic elements of knowledge. They have, however, a complex structure of their own and are far from being elementary. My paper will analyze two basic patterns of perception and some of the resulting medical implications. Most basically, all object perception is characterized by a mixture of knowledge and ignorance (Husserl). Perception essentially perceives with inner and outer horizons, brought about by the kinesthetic activity of the perceiving subject (Sartre). This first (...) layer of perceptual reality, the world of open perceptions, is the inescapable background for every rationality, every value, every existence (Merleau-Ponty). On an epistemological level a characteristic change of perceptual patterns in medicine was introduced by pathological anatomy (Foucault). The reference of medical perception to the dead body created the new possibility of absolute perception, allowing for more precise medical interventions, but at the same time coming into conflict with the open structures of ordinary, non-scientific perception patterns in everyday life. On the basis of these distinctions, an analysis of the different perceptual patterns in medicine becomes possible. Such an analysis would be the task of a sub-field in medical philosophy that could be called medical aesthetics having as its goal an art of perception understood as a technique of adequately applying different perceptual patterns in medical practice. (shrink)
The field of machine perception is based on standard informational and computational approaches to perception. But naturalistic informational theories are widely regarded as being inadequate, while purely syntactic computational approaches give no account of perceptual content. Thus there is a significant need for a novel, purely naturalistic perceptual theory not based on informational or computational concepts, which could provide a new paradigm for mechanistic perception. Now specifically evolutionary naturalistic approaches to perception have been—perhaps surprisingly—almost completely (...) neglected for this purpose. Arguably perceptual mechanisms enhance evolutionary fitness by facilitating sensorily mediated causal interactions between an organism Z and items X in its environment. A ‘reflexive’ theory of perception of this kind is outlined, according to which an organism Z perceives an item X just in case X causes a sensory organ zi of Z to cause Z to acquire a disposition toward the very same item X that caused the perception. The rest of the paper shows how an intuitively plausible account of mechanistic perception can be developed and defended in terms of the reflexive theory. Also, a compatibilist option is provided for those who wish to preserve a distinct informational concept of perception. (shrink)
Recent work on children’s inferences concerning biological and chemical categories has suggested that children (and perhaps adults) are essentialists— a view known as psychological essentialism. I distinguish three varieties of psychological essentialism and investigate the ways in which essentialism explains the inferences for which it is supposed to account. Essentialism succeeds in explaining the inferences, I argue, because it attributes to the child belief in causal laws connecting category membership and the possession of certain characteristic appearances and behavior. This suggests (...) that the data will be equally well explained by a non-essentialist hypothesis that attributes belief in the appropriate causal laws to the child, but makes no claim as to whether or not the child represents essences. I provide several reasons to think that this non-essentialist hypothesis is in fact superior to any version of the essentialist hypothesis. (shrink)
Seeing, Doing, and Knowing is an original and comprehensive philosophical treatment of sense perception as it is currently investigated by cognitive neuroscientists. Its central theme is the task-oriented specialization of sensory systems across the biological domain; these systems coevolve with an organism's learning and action systems, providing the latter with classifications of external objects in terms of sensory categories purpose--built for their need. On the basis of this central idea, Matthen presents novel theories of perceptual similarity, content, and (...) realism. His work will be a stimulating resource for a wide range of scholars and students across philosophy and psychology. (shrink)