The case for proprioception

In formulating a theory of perception that does justice to the embodied and enactive nature of perceptual experience, proprioception can play a valuable role. Since proprioception is necessarily embodied, and since proprioceptive experience is particularly integrated with one’s bodily actions, it seems clear that proprioception, in addition to, e.g., vision or audition, can provide us with valuable insights into the role of an agent’s corporal skills and capacities in constituting or structuring perceptual experience. However, if we are going to have the opportunity to argue from analogy with proprioception to vision, audition, touch, taste, or smell, then it is necessary to eschew any doubts about the legitimacy of proprioception’s inclusion into the category of perceptual modalities. To this end, in this article, I (1) respond to two arguments that Shaun Gallagher ( 2003 ) presents in “Bodily self-awareness and objectperception” against proprioception’s ability to meet the criteria of object perception, (2) present a diagnosis of Gallagher’s position by locating a misunderstanding in the distinction between proprioceptive information and proprioceptive awareness, and (3) show that treating proprioception as a perceptual modality allows us to account for the interaction of proprioception with the other sensory modalities, to apply the lessons we learn from proprioception to the other sensory modalities, and to account for proprioceptive learning. Finally, (4) I examine Sydney Shoemaker’s ( 1994 ) identification constraint and suggest that a full-fledged notion of object-hood is unnecessary to ground a theory of perception
Keywords Proprioception  Perception  Non-conscious perception  Perceptual learning
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9217-z
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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