This is an excerpt of a report that 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 in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: What is perceptual learning?
Research on bodily awareness has focused on body illusions with an aim to explore the possible dissociation of our bodily awareness from our own body. It has provided insights into how our sensory modalities shape our sense of embodiment, and it has raised important questions regarding the malleability of our sense of ownership over our own body. The issue, however, is that this research fails to consider an important distinction in how we experience our body. There are indeed two ways (...) in which we can be aware of our body: via observational awareness, which involves attending to the body as an object, and via non-observational awareness, where the body is given as the subject of experience and does not involve attention. The research to date has focused on the former—observational bodily awareness—and has left the latter—non-observational bodily awareness—in the dark. This is detrimental to ever formulating a complete account of how we are aware of our body. It is understandable, however, because of the inherent problem in studying non-observational bodily awareness: how would you instruct subjects to report on their unattended bodily awareness? In view to resolving this problem, I propose here a working hypothesis on the basis of research on interoception and the rubber hand illusion, and on the effect of meditation on awareness and attention. This working hypothesis can show us a way to begin studying non-observational bodily awareness, and finally build a complete theory of bodily awareness. (shrink)
Traditionally, philosophers of mind have been guided by a brainbound approach: the mind, whatever it turns out to be, will be related to or identical with the brain. The body, under this approach, plays a merely instrumental role — it is what keeps the brain alive and healthy. Over the past few decades there has been increasing resistance to the brainbound approach, and a strongly supported push for taking a non-brainbound approach: the body is not merely instrumental, but in many (...) ways constitutive of the mind — the mind, whatever it turns out to be, is bodily in many fundamental respects. Thus, in explaining the mind, we must consider not only brain states, but also wider bodily processes. What those wider bodily processes are, and how they constitute certain mental states, are the key questions that we now face as non-brainbound philosophers of mind. -/- One avenue of investigation that many have taken in view to answering these two questions has been to look at bodily awareness and its relation to our sense of self. How does our body, and our awareness of our body more specifically, constitute our sense of self and our subjective experience of the world. A clear way of investigating this last question is to turn to pathological cases of body awareness, e.g. body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is an interesting case. The DSM-5 distinguishes anorexia nervosa from body dysmorphic disorder — the former is classified as an eating disorder, while the latter is classified as a mental disorder. As I will explore in this chapter, this very manner of distinguishing among such pathologies admits of a traditional brainbound approach to separating the mind/brain from the body. Here I shall consider how a non-brainbound approach might give us different, and perhaps even better insight into cases such as anorexia nervosa, and I shall, conversely, consider how such body awareness disorders might serve to further strengthen the view that the right approach to understanding the mind is the non-brainbound approach. (shrink)
The hard problem of consciousness lies in explaining what constitutes the subjectivity of consciousness. I argue that significant headway can be made on the problem from an embodied mind view, and particularly if we turn to William James’ theory of emotions. The challenge is one of explaining how bodily subjectivity arises from biological processes. I argue that the solution to this problem lies in our sense of interoception, and James’ theory which suggests emotional feelings are the cascade of changing bodily (...) states. Through James’ account, I show how the biological body can give rise to a bodily subjectivity in experiential consciousness, and thus move towards a solution of the hard problem. (shrink)
Our emotional states affect how we perceive the world. If I am stressed, annoyed, or irritated, I might experience the sound of children laughing and screaming as they play around the house in a negative manner — it is unpleasant, loud, piercing, and so on. Yet, if I’m in a relaxed, happy, loving mood, the very same sounds might be experienced as pleasant, playful, warm, and so on. The sounds being made by the children are the same in both cases, (...) but how they are experienced differs. The auditory experience is affected by the emotional state that I am in. I perceive the sounds differently depending on how I’m feeling. Although this might at first seem to be a trivial observation, it certainly is not. We take for granted that our perceptual experiences give rise to justified beliefs and knowledge. Thus, if my perceptual experience of an object can differ based on my emotional state, and I take my perceptual experience to justify my beliefs and even lead to knowledge, then we might have a problem. If emotions — which are not fixed and in large part uncontrolled — affect our ability to accurately perceive the world, then they may undermine the justified beliefs and knowledge gained on the basis of our perceptual experience of the world. My goal here is to explore this potential problem. -/- I consider how we might understand the effect that emotions have on the justification of our perceptual beliefs about the world, beliefs that we acquire from a variety of sensory modalities — audition, gustation olfaction, and so on. I take the problem to be associated with one of two forms of perceptual influence: penetration or multisensory integration. In any given perceptual moment there are multiple sensory modalities and mental states at play, each affecting the overall experience. Whether we understand the influence of emotion on perception as a form of non-perceptual penetration or a form of non-visual sensory perception of the inner body — interoception — the potential epistemological difficulties remain: how can we be said to acquire justified beliefs and knowledge on the basis of such influenced perceptual experience. As has been the norm, only the five exteroceptive senses of vision, audition, olfaction, taste and touch are typically discussed in the context of sensory perception. However, as I argue, there is strong reason to accept the claim that emotional experience is a form of interoception, and that interoception ought to be considered when discussing sensory perception. In this way, then, I propose that clarifying the role played by interoception in sense perception across modalities is necessary if we are to make progress on the epistemological problems at hand. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that 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 in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: Can perceptual experience be modified by reason?
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?
This is an excerpt of a report that 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 in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: How does perceptual learning alter perceptual phenomenology?
This is an excerpt of a report that 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 in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: How does perceptual learning alter the contents of perception?
This is an excerpt of a report that 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 in March, 2012. This portion of the report explores the question: How is perceptual learning coordinated with action?
In “What is the state-of-the-art on lucid dreaming? Recent advances and ques- tions for future research”, Ursula Voss and Allan Hobson provide a detailed view of the features characterizing lucid dreaming and put forward four innovative hy- potheses to explain why and how lucid dreaming occurs, as well as how lucid dream states are related to other states of consciousness. Their aim is to show that not only is there benefit to studying lucid dreaming in itself, as this would give (...) us a deeper understanding of dream consciousness, but also that it is an im- portant endeavor because of the kind of conscious state lucid dreaming is. To be sure, Voss and Hobson make important in-roads into the empirical study of lucid dreaming that ought to sprout new and exciting research in the area. As I will show, however, there remains much conceptual work to be done. In this comment- ary I tease out three aspects of Voss and Hobson’s view that would greatly bene- fit from philosophical consideration. First, I highlight the lingering confusion with what exactly insight is, and I point to how one might go about clarifying this no- tion. Second, I argue that our understanding of insight and meta-awareness in lu- cid dreaming could be greatly increased by looking at how these concepts are used and understood in relation to meditative states. Last, I explore the role of the body in lucid dreaming and argue that one’s bodily awareness in lucid dreams is far more multi-faceted than at it might at first seem. (shrink)
Experiential consciousness is characterized by subjectivity: There is something it is like to be a subject of experience – a first-personal perspective, a what-it-is-like-for-me. In this paper I defend two proposals. First, I contend that to understand the subjectivity of consciousness we must turn to the subject: we are embodied sub- jects of experience. Thus, I argue, the subjectivity of experiential consciousness should be understood as a bodily subjectivity. Sec- ond, if we take this approach, I propose that we can (...) finally begin to explain the structure of experiential consciousness as subjective by looking at certain bodily processes in particular interoception. (shrink)