Molyneux asked whether a newly sighted person could distinguish a sphere from a cube by sight alone, given that she was antecedently able to do so by touch. This, we contend, is a question about general ideas. To answer it, we must ask (a) whether spatial locations identified by touch can be identified also by sight, and (b) whether the integration of spatial locations into an idea of shape persists through changes of modality. Posed this way, Molyneux’s Question goes substantially (...) beyond question (a), about spatial locations, alone; for a positive answer to (a) leaves open whether a perceiver might cross-identify locations, but not be able to identify the shapes that collections of locations comprise. We further emphasize that MQ targets general ideas so as to distinguish it from corresponding questions about experiences of shape and about the property of tangible (vs. visual) shape. After proposing a generalized formulation of MQ, we extend earlier work (“Many Molyneux Questions,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 2020) by showing that MQ does not admit a single answer across the board. Some integrative data-processes transfer across modalities; others do not. Seeing where and how such transfer succeeds and fails in individual cases has much to offer to our understanding of perception and its modalities. (shrink)
Four experiments investigated the extent to which abstract quantitative information can be conveyed by basic visual features. This was done by asking observers to estimate and discriminate Pearson correlation in graphical representations where the first data dimension of each element was encoded by its horizontal position, and the second by the value of one of its visual features; perceiving correlation then requires combining the information in the two encodings via a common abstract representation. Four visual features were examined: luminance, color, (...) orientation, and size. All were able to support the perception of correlation. Indeed, despite the strikingly different appearances of the associated stimuli, all gave rise to performance that was much the same: just noticeable difference was a linear function of distance from complete correlation, and estimated correlation a logarithmic function of this distance. Performance differed only in regards to the level of noise in the feature, with these values compatible with estimates of channel capacity encountered in classic experiments on absolute perceptual magnitudes. These results suggest that quantitative information can be conveyed by visual features that are abstracted at relatively low levels of visual processing, with little representation of the original sensory property. It is proposed that this is achieved via an abstract parameter space in which the values in each perceptual dimension are normalized to have the same means and variances, with perceived correlation based on the shape of the joint probability density function of the resultant elements. (shrink)
Visual experience is often characterised as being essentially spatial, and auditory experience essentially temporal. But this contrast, which is based upon the temporal structure of the objects of sensory experience rather than the experiences to which they give rise, is somewhat superficial. By carefully examining the various sources of temporal variation in the chemical senses we can more clearly identify the temporal profile of the resulting smell and taste (aka flavour) experiences. This in turn suggests that at least some of (...) the objects of olfactory experience have significant temporal structure, including interactions between odorants and the body’s own sensory systems. This can help to inform our understanding not only of the metaphysics of olfaction, but the temporal structure of sensory processing and experience in other sense-modalities, including vision and audition. (shrink)
The sense of touch provides us knowledge of two kinds of events. Tactile sensation (T) makes us aware of events on or just below the skin; haptic perception (H) gives us knowledge of things outside the body with which we are in contact. This paper argues that T and H are distinct experiences, and not (as some have argued) different aspects of the same touch-experience. In other words, T ≠ H. Moreover, H does not supervene on T. Secondly: In T, (...) we are aware of immanent, phenomenal qualities; in H, we come to know of transcendent qualities in things that exist independently of ourselves. Finally: T is non-spatial; it is indexed by parts of the body, but not by position in space. H, by contrast, is spatial. This brings to mind Kant’s contention that things are presented as existing objectively when they are represented spatially. (shrink)
In his paper “Double Vision, Phosphenes and Afterimages: Non-Endorsed Representations rather than Non-Representational Qualia,” Işık Sarıhan addresses the debate between strong representationalists and qualia theorists. He argues that qualia theorists like Ned Block and Amy Kind who cite double-vision, afterimages, etc., as evidence for the existence of qualia are mistaken about the actual nature of these states. According to Sarıhan, these authors confuse the fact that these states are non-endorsed representational states with the fact that they are at least partly (...) non-representational. I argue that Sarıhan’s argument contains gaps that suggest that he misidentifi es the mistake that leads these qualia theorists to their conclusion. In my view, these qualia theorists do not confuse the fact that the states in question are non-endorsed states with the fact that they are non-representational, but rather mistake certain representational contents, or certain aspects of these contents, for qualia. (shrink)
Despite the large interest in the human ability to perceive space present in neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology, as well as philosophy of mind, the issues regarding egocentric space representation received relatively less attention. In this paper I take up a unique phenomenon related to this faculty: the “spatial purport” of perceptual experiences. The notion was proposed by Rick Grush to describe the subjective, qualitative aspects of egocentric representations of spatial properties and relations. Although Grush offered an explanation of the (...) mechanism giving rise to appearance of spatial purport, his model had considerable shortcomings. In the paper I thoroughly analyze both the notion of spatial purport and Grush’s explanation of the mechanism at its core in order to develop his theory using the insights provided by the predictive processing theory of mind, and more particularly by the active inference framework. The extended account I offer, named Predictive and Hierarchical Skill Theory, explains phenomena that escaped Grush’s model and furthers the research on egocentric space representation from the perspective of both neuroscience and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
What kinds of features of the world figure consciously in our perceptual experience? Colours and shapes are uncontroversial; but what about volumes, natural kinds, reasons for belief, existences, relations? Eleven new essays investigate different kinds of phenomenal presence.
Being in a mood—such as an anxious, irritable, depressed, tranquil, or cheerful mood—tends to alter the way we react emotionally to the particular objects we encounter. But how, exactly, do moods alter the way we experience particular objects? Perceptualism, a popular approach to understanding affective experiences, holds that moods function like "colored lenses," altering the way we perceive the evaluative properties of the objects we encounter. In this essay, I offer a phenomenological analysis of the experience of being in a (...) mood that illustrates the limitations of the colored lens metaphor and demonstrates the basic inadequacy of the perceptualist account of moods. I argue that when we are in a mood, it is common to experience a kind of "emotional disconnection" in which we perceive evaluative properties that would normally elicit strong emotional reactions from us, but nonetheless we find that, in our present mood, we remain emotionally numb to these perceptions. Such experiences of "seeing but not feeling" are difficult to understand from within the perceptualist paradigm. Building on the work of Martin Heidegger, I sketch an alternative, phenomenological analysis of moods that can better account for experiences of emotional disconnection. On this alternative account, being in a mood does not merely alter the content of our perceptions but, rather, alters the way we interpret the overall significance of what we perceive, relative to a certain situational context. (shrink)
For scatterplots with gaussian distributions of dots, the perception of Pearson correlation r can be described by two simple laws: a linear one for discrimination, and a logarithmic one for perceived magnitude (Rensink & Baldridge, 2010). The underlying perceptual mechanisms, however, remain poorly understood. To cast light on these, four different distributions of datapoints were examined. The first had 100 points with equal variance in both dimensions. Consistent with earlier results, just noticeable difference (JND) was a linear function of the (...) distance away from r = 1, and the magnitude of perceived correlation a logarithmic function of this quantity. In addition, these laws were linked, with the intercept of the JND line being the inverse of the bias in perceived magnitude. Three other conditions were also examined: a dot cloud with 25 points, a horizontal compression of the cloud, and a cloud with a uniform distribution of dots. Performance was found to be similar in all conditions. The generality and form of these laws suggest that what underlies correlation perception is not a geometric structure such as the shape of the dot cloud, but the shape of the probability distribution of the dots, likely inferred via a form of ensemble coding. It is suggested that this reflects the ability of observers to perceive the information entropy in an image, with this quantity used as a proxy for Pearson correlation. (shrink)
Brown highlights cases of “chromatic layering”—scenarios in which one perceives an opaque object through a transparent volume/film/filter with a chromatic or achromatic content of its own—as a way of reining in the argument from perceptual variation sometimes used to motivate a relationalist account of color properties. Brown urges that the argument in question does not generalize smoothly to all types of perceptual variation—in particular, that it fits poorly in layering cases in which there is either experiential fusion or scission. While (...) he doesn’t want to reject the relationalist description of variation in all cases, he does suggest that there is an alternative, and preferable, description available for layering cases, and that the availability of this alternative puts limits on the scope of both relationalist arguments and relationalist conclusions. I claim that the obstacles for the argument from perceptual variation posed by cases of layering are merely apparent. I argue that relationalism can be extended smoothly to cases of layering, and indeed that denying this extension, as Brown proposes, contravenes ordinary and more or less universally accepted canons of rational inquiry. (shrink)
This Special Issue is dedicated to building a bridge between different disciplines concerned in the investigation of the qualitative dimension of experience and reality. The two main objectives of the Issue can be summarized as follows: 1) to elucidate the need for a revision of categories to account for the qualitative dimension in various disciplines (that include, for example, the cognitive sciences, neurosciences, biology, linguistics, informatics, artificial intelligence, robotics, newly emerging computer technologies) in order to develop an ontology that can (...) better account for the qualitative, dynamic and relational aspects of different domains of reality; 2) to explore the implications of the enactivist view for a relational and ecological account of the qualitative dimensions of life and cognition. (shrink)
Planar geometry was exploited for the computation of symmetric visual curves in the image plane, with consistent variations in local parameters such as sagitta, chordlength, and the curves’ height-to-width ratio, an indicator of the visual area covered by the curve, also called aspect ratio. Image representations of single curves (no local image context) were presented to human observers to measure their visual sensation of curvature magnitude elicited by a given curve. Nonlinear regression analysis was performed on both the individual and (...) the average data using two types of model: (1) a power function where. (shrink)
In this paper, I address the issue of the ontological status of qualitative properties. I discuss the prevalent approaches to the problem of qualia in philosophy of mind, in relation to the various attempts at naturalizing the mind and the various theories of perception. I compare these views with Husserl's phenomenology, highlighting the phenomenological distinction between phenomenal contents of mental states and sensory properties of the perceived objects. I present some open issues of this view, in order to show how (...) they can be addressed in the light of some developments of the phenomenological inquiry in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes two types of qualia theory, which I call Galilean and non-Galilean qualia theories. It also offers considerations against each type of theory. To my mind the considerations are powerful. In any case, they bring out the importance of distinguishing the two types of theory. For they show that different considerations come into play—or considerations come into play in quite different ways—in assessing the two types of theory.
In my dissertation I critically survey existing theories of time consciousness, and draw on recent work in neuroscience and philosophy to develop an original theory. My view depends on a novel account of temporal perception based on the notion of temporal qualities, which are mental properties that are instantiated whenever we detect change in the environment. When we become aware of these temporal qualities in an appropriate way, our conscious experience will feature the distinct temporal phenomenology that is associated with (...) the passing of time. The temporal qualities model of perception makes two predictions about the mechanisms of time perception; one that time perception is modality specific and the other that it can occur without awareness. My argument for this view partially depends on a number of psychophysical experiments that I designed and implemented myself and which investigate subjective time distortions caused by looming visual stimuli. These results show that the mechanisms of conscious experience of time are distinct from the mechanisms of time perception, as my theory of temporal qualities predicts. (shrink)
Taken at face value, the picture of reality suggested by modern science seems radically opposed to the world as we perceive it through our senses. Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear scientists and others claim that much of our perceptual experience is a kind of pervasive illusion rather than a faithful presentation of various aspects of reality. On this view, familiar properties such as colours and solidity, to take just two examples, do not belong to external objects, but are (...) fictions generated by the brain that we mistakenly ascribe to the world around us. Contrary to this view, I argue that properties like colour and solidity are as much a part of the fabric of reality as gravity and electrons, and that our scientific and common-sense world views are not as opposed to one another as it might first appear. (shrink)
Mandik (2012)understands color-consciousness conceptualism to be the view that one deploys in a conscious qualitative state concepts for every color consciously discriminated by that state. Some argue that the experimental evidence that we can consciously discriminate barely distinct hues that are presented together but cannot do so when those hues are presented in short succession suggests that we can consciously discriminate colors that we do not conceptualize. Mandik maintains, however, that this evidence is consistent with our deploying a variety of (...) nondemonstrative concepts for those colors and so does not pose a threat to conceptualism. But even if Mandik has shown that we deploy such concepts in these experimental conditions, there are cases of conscious states that discriminate colors but do not involve concepts of those colors. Mandik’s arguments sustain only a theory in the vicinity of conceptualism: The view that we possess concepts for every color we can discriminate consciously, but need not deploy those concepts in every conscious act of color discrimination. (shrink)
In Consciousness Revisited: Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts 2009, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Michael Tye claims that seeing can occur independently of seeing-that. Call this The Independence Claim (TIC). Tye supports this ‘general point’ by appeal to cases of ‘ubiquitous error’ (2009: 95). In this article, I show that this strategy fails: it is guilty of a certain blindness to how things look.
Review of Wolfgang Metzger, Laws of Seeing, trans. Lothar Spillman, Steven Lehar, Mimsey Stromeyer, and Michael Wertheimer. MIT Press, 2006; paperback, 2009. Pp. xxv+203. £18.95 PB. Original German edition published in 1936.
According to a common intuition, a property is subjective or mind-dependent if it is a matter of taste whether an object possesses it or not and such matters are open to so-called faultless disagreement. For instance, assuming that funniness is subjective, two people may disagree about whether something is funny, yet both be right. If this intuition is correct, the possibility of subjective properties seems to depend on the possibility of faultless disagreement, which again seems to depend on some type (...) of relativism about truth or facts. Given that relativism is a contested view, this reliance is not a fortunate one for subjective properties. Those rejecting the possibility of faultless disagreement include indexical relativists. In this paper, I argue that the mind-dependence of properties does not require faultless disagreement and that indexical relativism, or contextualism, has the resources needed for a coherent notion of a subjective property. While contextualism may have its flaws, failure to account for subjective properties is not one of them. (shrink)
Neuropsychology. International. Perspectives. on. Psychological. Science. ( Volume. 1). This is the first of two volumes which together present the main contributions from the 29th International Congress of Psychology, held in Berlin in 2008, ...
Studies show that there are widespread intrasubjective and intersubjective color variations among normal perceivers. These variations have serious ramifications in the debate about the nature and ontology of color. It is typical to think of the debate about color as a dispute between objectivists and subjectivists. Objectivists hold that colors are perceiver-independent physical properties of objects while subjectivists hold that they are either projections onto external objects or dispositions objects have to look colored. I argue that individual color variations present (...) difficulties, albeit not the same kind, for both objectivism and subjectivism. Lastly, I propose an alternative account that handles such variations nicely. (shrink)
The chapter outlines an abstract theoretical framework that is currently (re-)emerging in the course of a theoretical convergence of several disciplines. In the first section, the fundamental problem of perception theory is formulated, namely, the generation, by the perceptual system, of meaningful categories from physicogeometric energy patterns. In the second section, it deals with basic intuitions and assumptions underlying what can be regarded as the current Standard Model of Perceptual Psychology and points out why this model is profoundly inadequate for (...) dealing with the fundamental problem of perception theory. In the third section, it discusses a level of analysis that promises to be fruitful for dealing, in conformity with established procedures of the natural sciences, with the problem of perceptual “meaning” and the problem of what constitutes a “perceptual object.” In the fourth section, it outlines a theoretical perspective on basic principles of the perceptual system which centers on the notions of complex data types and conceptual forms, and draws an entirely different theoretical picture of the role of the sensory input than traditional accounts. The final section focusses on the issue of material qualities and discusses, within the general theoretical framework outlined, some observations and results on the perception of certain material properties, namely, lustrous and glassy appearances. (shrink)
In philosophical discussions of the secondary qualities, color has taken center stage. Smells, tastes, sounds, and feels have been treated, by and large, as mere accessories to colors. We are, as it is said, visual creatures. This, at least, has been the working assumption in the philosophy of perception and in those metaphysical discussions about the nature of the secondary qualities. The result has been a scarcity of work on the “other” secondary qualities. In this paper, I take smells and (...) place them front and center. I ask: What are smells? For many philosophers, the view that colors can be explained in purely physicalistic terms has seemed very appealing. In the case of smells, this kind of nonrelational view has seemed much less appealing. Philosophers have been drawn to versions of relationalism—the view that the nature of smells must be explained (at least in part) in terms of the effects they have on perceivers. In this paper, I consider a contemporary argument for this view. I argue that nonrelationalist views of smell have little to fear from this argument. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Quassim Cassam (1997) accepts the standard account of solidity, according to which, if S feels x as solid, then S feels x as an imediment to his movement. Recently, Martin Fricke and Paul Snowdon (2003) have presented a battery of counter-examples designed to show that S may feel x as solid and as exerting a pressure that supports or facilitates his movement. In this note, I defend the standard account against Fricke and Snowdon’s attack. Integral to this defense is (...) a distinction between two (sometimes overlapping) ways in which S may feel x as an impediment to his movement: as an influence on a movement state of S, or as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement. After demonstrating the primacy of the former sense, I argue that Fricke and Snowdon’s counter-examples only undermine a version of the standard account that glosses ‘impediment’ as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement. (shrink)
Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is wholly determined by its representational content is very attractive. Unfortunately, it is in conflict with some quite robust intuitions about the possibility of phenomenal spectrum inversion without misrepresentation. Faced with such a problem, there are the usual three options: reject intentionalism, discount the intuitions and deny that spectrum inversion without misrepresentation is possible, or find a way to reconcile the two by dissolving the apparent conflict. Sydney Shoemaker's (1994) (...) introduction of appearance properties is a particularly ingenious way of pursuing the third strategy, by maintaining that there is a representational difference between the phenomenally spectrum-inverted subjects.2 In introducing appearance properties, Shoemaker does two things: he identifies a theoretical role for some family of properties to play, and he suggests a family of properties as candidates to play that role. I'll argue that his proposed candidates do not play the role as well as we would like, suggest some new candidates, and argue that they do a better job. (shrink)
Representational theories of mind cannot individuate the sense modalities in a principled manner. According to representationalism, the phenomenal character of experiences is determined by their contents. The usual objection is that inverted qualia are possible, so the phenomenal character of experiences may vary independently of their contents. But the objection is inconclusive. It raises difficult questions about the metaphysics of secondary qualities and it is difficult to see whether or not inverted qualia are possible. This paper proposes an alternative test (...) of representationalism. Do experiences in different sense modalities have the same phenomenal character when they share content? Psychological work on the perception of shape through vision and spatial hearing is discussed. This work shows that visual and auditory experiences differ in phenomenal character even in so far as they represent similar properties. This objection to representationalism does not invite questions about secondary qualities or depend on establishing metaphysical possibilities. (shrink)
SummaryQuine uses the notion of ‘quality space’ in Word and Object and in ‘Natural Kinds' as a means of characterizing similarity recognition, which in turn is seen as basic to induction and to language acquisition. In this paper it is argued that ‘quality space’ is too simplistic a notion to bear the explanatory weight given to ‘similarity’. Similarity is explanatorily plausible only because it contains much covert complexity and is essentially mentalistic. The attempt to expunge this mentalism by the behavioural (...) mapping of quality spaces simply loses the explanatory force of similarity.RésuméQuine utilise dans ≤Word and Object≥ et dans ≤Natural Kinds≥ la notion ?on; ≤espace des qualityés≥ comme une façon de caractériser la reconnaissance de la similitude, qui est à son tour considérée comme fondamentale pour ľinduction ct pour ľacquisition du langage. auteur montre que la notion ?on; ≤cspace des qualityés≥ est trop simpliste pour fournir une base suffisante à la valeur explicative attendue de la ≤similitude≥. La similitude ňest plausible comme explication que parce qu'elle cache une grande complexité et čest une notion essentiellement mentale. La tentative de remplacer ce mentalisme par une projection behavioriste sur ľespace des qualites fait perdre à la similitude sa valeur explicative.ZusammenfassungIn ≤Word and Object≥ und in ≤Natural Kinds≥ benutzt Quine den Begriff ≤Eigenschafts‐raum≥ als Mittel um die Wahrnehmung der Ähnlichkeit zu charakterisieren, welche ihrerseits als grundlegend für Induktion und Aneignung der Sprache betrachtet wird. In der vorliegenden Arbeit wird argumentiert, dass dieser ≤Eigenschaftsraum≥ zu arm ist, um den Erklärungsgehalt des Begriffs ≤Ähnlichkeit≥ zu tragen. Die Erklärung durch Ähnlichkeit ist nur deshalb plausibel, weil sie versteckte Komplexität enthält und wesentlich mentalistisch ist. Bei dem Versuch, diesem Men‐talismus mithilfe der behavioristischen Abbildung der Eigenschäftsraume auszuweichen, geht die Erklärungskraft des Begriffs der Ähnlichkeit einfach verloren. (shrink)
The explanation of a child's discriminate responses to his environment turns on ascribing to the child a perceptual discrimination which counts certain things as more similar to one another than to some other thing. As Quine forcefully puts it:If an individual is to learn at all, differences in degree of similarity must be implicit in his learning pattern. Otherwise any response, if reinforced, would be conditioned equally and indiscriminately to any and every future episode, all these being equally similar.Now for (...) those determined to cleave to behaviourist canons, the problem is to use ‘perceptual similarity’ in explaining the subject's discriminating responses in a way which does not imply the existence of mental states and entities. What this really means is that the behaviourist must reconstruct the notion of ‘perceptual similarity', purifying it of its mentalistic dimension. So long as physicalism is a reasonable position, and while we are awaiting and abetting the neurophysiological millennium, the behaviourist's project is of significant moment. Now in Word and Object Quine does not seriously attempt to provide behavioural criteria for a subject's perceiving similarities, and he provisionally permits himself the mentalistic idiom he avows finally to eschew. (shrink)
This report highlights and explores five questions that arose from the Network for Sensory Research workshop on perceptual learning and perceptual recognition at the University of York on March 19th and 20th, 2012: 1. What is perceptual learning? 2. Can perceptual experience be modified by reason? 3. How does perceptual learning alter perceptual phenomenology? 4. How does perceptual learning alter the contents of perception? 5. How is perceptual learning coordinated with action?
Presented at Philosophy Across Disciplines Conference 2021, Newcastle University. -/- As noted by philosopher Robert Pasnau, “our standard view of sound is incoherent” at best. A quick perusal of how we discuss and represent sound in our day-to-day language readily highlights a number of inconsistencies. Sound might be described roughly as emanating from the location of its material source (the ‘crack of the snare drum over there’ distal theory), as a disruption somewhere in the space in-between the sounding object and (...) the listener (the ‘longitudinal compression waves in the air’ medial theory), located with the hearer (the ‘inner sensations’ proximal theory), or perhaps as devoid of spatial characteristics at all (aspatial theory). Beyond these topographic ruminations on the location of sounds, even deeper disagreements arise around just what sorts of things sounds are. A broad array of theories treat sounds as events, as object-like particulars that travel through space, as properties of their sounding objects, etc.—with many subtle ontological variations springing up along the way. The philosophical plot further thickens as we expand from defining the ontology and spatial position of simple primary sounds through to the phenomenon of echoes, with certain theories arguably faring better than others. We’ll focus here on Casey O’Callaghan’s formulation of sounds as disturbance events which bind primary sounds and their echoes together as one. In short, the claim that echoes are identical to their associated primary sound and are not distinct sounds in their own right. Described as the ‘Primary Sound Account of Echoes’ (‘PSAE’) in Gregory Fowler’s “Against the Primary Sound Account of Echoes,” the intricacies of this particular aspect of O’Callaghan’s theory of a primary sound’s connection to its echo bears greatly upon the workability of distal theories of sound in general. What I seek to achieve in this presentation is to illustrate how O’Callaghan’s PSAE fails when subjected to increased scrutiny across a broader range of echo scenarios, which in turn presents a significant issue for proponents of distal theories of sound. (shrink)
Some sounds have pitch, some do not. A tuba’s notes are lower pitched than a ﬂute’s, but the fuzz from an untuned radio has no discernible pitch. Pitch is an attribute in virtue of which sounds that possess it can be ordered from “low” to “high”. Given how audition works, physics has taught us that frequency determines what pitch a sound auditorily appears to have.