The title of this work is a somewhat saucy overstatement of its thesis—that perceivers seek in works of art experiences of "discontinuity" and "disorientation," as a kind of "rehearsal" for "real life" situations in which they must negotiate intellectual tensions, resulting from a disparity between what they expect and what actually happens. Art-perceiving, the author asserts, is a "biological, adaptive" mechanism characteristic of the human organism. Peckham, like most thoughtful readers of art history, is irritated by the preposterous assertions that (...) man's perceptions are a mad, disorderly blizzard of phenomena, and the artist alone can bring "order" to the mess. Of course, it is obvious that neither of these notions is very sensible, but the unfortunate truth about the lay psychology of most criticism is that Dr. Peckham's assertions in this connection will probably be regarded as controversial in many departments of literature and fine arts. The author is at his best when barbedly [[sic]] criticizing his colleagues; he is at less than his best, however, when he assumes the mantle of philosophical psychology in order to bring authority to his arguments. Intent upon finding confirmation in both the fashionable and passe schools of behavioral science and philosophy, he masses gluts of aphorisms from Gestalt psychology, Husserl, Heidegger, Susanne Langer, and Paul Ziff (the last pair being very indiscreetly aligned to form notions which are no less intuitive than those of the various art-historians he is admonishing. In the area of psychology, Peckham ignores all of the current approaches, and in the area of philosophy he refers to linguistic analysis or philosophy of science as though each were substantively and methodologically unified, and possessed clear-cut views about the universe. Peckham's central thesis, moreover, leaves one unable to distinguish a work of creative physics from a novel.—E. H. W. (shrink)
H.B.D. Kettlewell is best known for his pioneering work on the phenomenon of industrial melanism, which began shortly after his appointment in 1951 as a Nuffield Foundation research worker in E.B. Ford's newly formed sub-department of genetics at the University of Oxford. In the years since, a legend has formed around these investigations, one that portrays them as a success story of the 'Oxford School of Ecological Genetics', emphasizes Ford's intellectual contribution, and minimizes reference to assistance provided by others. The (...) following essay reviews the important influence Ford, E.A. Cockayne, and P.M. Sheppard played in Kettlewell's research, leading up to his most famous experiments in 1953. It documents several reasons for doubting that Ford was as intellectually involved in the design of these investigations as he has previously been portrayed. It clarifies Kettlewell's intellectual contribution to the investigations for which he is famous, as well as the pivotal roles Cockayne and Sheppard played in the design, execution and interpretation of these investigations. (shrink)
6. Seeing With the Mind ’ s Eye 1 : The Puzzle of Mental Imagery 6. 1 What is the puzzle about mental imagery? 6. 2 Content, form and substance of representations 6. 3 What is responsible for the pattern of results obtained in imagery studies?
Generals always prepare for the last war.—Winston ChurchillYet in the 18th century, European thinkers noticed that social transformations had been accelerating for several thousand years; subsequent historical knowledge has made this observation more graphic and global. How long can the acceleration regime continue? In 1958, John von Neumann used the mathematical ‘singularity’ concept apropos of this subject, and the sonorous term was soon accepted in the humanities.The conceptual intrigue has become still more fascinating since a series of independent calculations demonstrated (...) that the acceleration period was not limited by human history and prehistory but embraced 4.5 billion years of biosphere evolution in tune with a simple logarithmic law. This is one of the epoch-making and surprising discoveries in the early 21st century. Continents have been drifting on Earth over billions of years, climate changing repeatedly, meteorites falling down and volcanoes blowing up—yet, the phase tra .. (shrink)