"Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us," writes Alva Noe. "It is something we do." In Action in Perception, Noe argues that perception and perceptual consciousness depend on capacities for action and thought — that ...
Many current neurophysiological, psychophysical, and psychological approaches to vision rest on the idea that when we see, the brain produces an internal representation of the world. The activation of this internal representation is assumed to give rise to the experience of seeing. The problem with this kind of approach is that it leaves unexplained how the existence of such a detailed internal representation might produce visual consciousness. An alternative proposal is made here. We propose that seeing is a way of (...) acting. It is a particular way of exploring the environment. Activity in internal representations does not generate the experience of seeing. The out- side world serves as its own, external, representation. The experience of seeing occurs when the organism masters what we call the gov- erning laws of sensorimotor contingency. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a natural and principled way of accounting for visual consciousness, and for the differences in the perceived quality of sensory experience in the different sensory modalities. Sev- eral lines of empirical evidence are brought forward in support of the theory, in particular: evidence from experiments in sensorimotor adaptation, visual “filling in,” visual stability despite eye movements, change blindness, sensory substitution, and color perception. (shrink)
Introduction: free presence -- Conscious reference -- Fragile styles -- Real presence -- Experience of the world in time -- Presence in pictures -- On over-intellectualizing the intellect -- Ideology and the third realm.
The main idea of this book is that perceiving is a way of acting. Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us. It is something we do. Think of a blind person tap-tapping his or her way around a cluttered space, perceiving that space by touch, not all at once, but through time, by skillful probing and movement. This is, or at least ought to be, our paradigm of what perceiving is. The world makes itself available to (...) the perceiver through physical movement and interaction. In this book I argue that all perception is touch-like in this way: perceptual experience acquires content thanks to our possession of bodily skills. What we perceive is determined by what we do ; it is determined by what we are ready to do. In ways I try to make precise, we enact our perceptual experience; we act it out. (shrink)
In visual science the term filling-inis used in different ways, which often leads to confusion. This target article presents a taxonomy of perceptual completion phenomena to organize and clarify theoretical and empirical discussion. Examples of boundary completion (illusory contours) and featural completion (color, brightness, motion, texture, and depth) are examined, and single-cell studies relevant to filling-in are reviewed and assessed. Filling-in issues must be understood in relation to theoretical issues about neuralignoring an absencejumping to a conclusionanalytic isomorphismCartesian materialism, a particular (...) neural stage that forms the immediate substrate of perceptual experience enactiveanimatesubpersonal” considerations about internal processing, but rather by considerations about the task of vision at the level of the animal or person interacting with the world. (shrink)
and apply it to various examples of neural plasticity in which input is rerouted intermodally or intramodally to nonstandard cortical targets. In some cases but not others, cortical activity ‘defers’ to the nonstandard sources of input. We ask why, consider some possible explanations, and propose a dynamic sensorimotor hypothesis. We believe that this distinction is important and worthy of further study, both philosophical and empirical, whether or not our hypothesis turns out to be correct. In particular, the question of how (...) the distinction should be explained is linked to explanatory gap issues for consciousness. Comparative and absolute explanatory gaps should be distinguished: why does neural activity in a particular area of cortex have this qualitative expression rather than that, and why does it have any qualitative expression at all? We use the dominance/deference distinction to address the comparative gaps, both intermodal and intramodal. We do so not by inward scrutiny but rather by expanding our gaze to include relations between brain, body and environment. (shrink)
In this paper I explore a brand of scepticism about perceptual experience that takes its start from recent work in psychology and philosophy of mind on change blindness and related phenomena. I argue that the new scepticism rests on a problematic phenomenology of perceptual experience. I then consider a strengthened version of the sceptical challenge that seems to be immune to this criticism. This strengthened sceptical challenge formulates what I call the problem of perceptual presence. I show how this problem (...) can be addressed by drawing on an enactive or sensorimotor approach to perceptual consciousness. Our experience of environmental detail consists in our access to that detail thanks to our possession of practical knowledge of the way in which what we do and sensory stimulation depend on each other. (shrink)
In the past decade, the notion of a neural correlate of consciousness (or NCC) has become a focal point for scientific research on consciousness (Metzinger, 2000a). A growing number of investigators believe that the first step toward a science of consciousness is to discover the neural correlates of consciousness. Indeed, Francis Crick has gone so far as to proclaim that ‘we … need to discover the neural correlates of consciousness.… For this task the primate visual system seems especially attractive.… No (...) longer need one spend time attempting … to endure the tedium of philosophers perpetually disagreeing with each other. Con- sciousness is now largely a scientific problem’ (Crick, 1996, p. 486).2 Yet the question of what it means to be a neural correlate of consciousness is actually far from straightforward, for it involves fundamental empirical, methodological, and _philosophical _issues about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. Even if one assumes, as we do, that states of consciousness causally depend on states of the brain, one can nevertheless wonder in what sense there is, or could be, such a thing as a neural correlate of consciousness. (shrink)
Some cognitive states — e.g. states of thinking, calculating, navigating — may be partially external because, at least sometimes, these states depend on the use of symbols and artifacts that are outside the body. Maps, signs, writing implements may sometimes be as inextricably bound up with the workings of cognition as neural structures or internally realized symbols (if there are any). According to what Clark and Chalmers  call active externalism, the environment can drive and so partially constitute cognitive processes. (...) Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? If active externalism is right, then the boundary cannot be drawn at the skull. The mind reaches – or at least can reach --- beyond the limits of the body out into the world. (shrink)
The world shows up to perceptual consciousness in virtue of the deployment of distinct sensorimotor and also conceptual skills. The availability of the world to thought is, in contrast, to be explained in connection with the different sorts of skills put to work in thought. I show that thought and experience are varieties of skilful access to the world. The aim of the paper is to present the outlines of a general theory of access.
Experiments on scene perception and change blindness suggest that the visual system does not construct detailed internal models of a scene. These experiments therefore call into doubt the traditional view that vision is a process in which detailed representations of the environment must be constructed. The non-existence of such detailed representations, however, does not entail that we do not perceive the detailed environment. The “grand illusion hypothesis” that our visual world is an illusion rests on (1) a problematic “reconstructionist” conception (...) of vision, and (2) a misconception about the character of perceptual experience. (shrink)
The topic of this paper is phenomenology. How should we think of phenomenology – the discipline or activity of investigating experience itself – if phenomenology is to be a genuine source of knowledge? This is related to the question whether phenomenology can make a contribution to the empirical study of human or animal experience. My own view is that it can. But only if we make a fresh start in understanding what phenomenology is and can be.
Context: The problems that are most in need of interdisciplinary collaboration are “wicked problems,” such as food crises, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development, with many relevant aspects, disagreement on what the problem is, and contradicting solutions. Such complex problems both require and challenge interdisciplinarity. Problem: The conventional methods of interdisciplinary research fall short in the case of wicked problems because they remain first-order science. Our aim is to present workable methods and research designs for doing second-order science in domains (...) where there are many different scientific knowledges on any complex problem. Method: We synthesize and elaborate a framework for second-order science in interdisciplinary research based on a number of earlier publications, experiences from large interdisciplinary research projects, and a perspectivist theory of science. Results: The second-order polyocular framework for interdisciplinary research is characterized by five principles. Second-order science of interdisciplinary research must: 1. draw on the observations of first-order perspectives, 2. address a shared dynamical object, 3. establish a shared problem, 4. rely on first-order perspectives to see themselves as perspectives, and 5. be based on other rules than first-order research. Implications: The perspectivist insights of second-order science provide a new way of understanding interdisciplinary research that leads to new polyocular methods and research designs. It also points to more reflexive ways of dealing with scientific expertise in democratic processes. The main challenge is that this is a paradigmatic shift, which demands that the involved disciplines, at least to some degree, subscribe to a perspectivist view. Constructivist content: Our perspectivist approach to science is based on the second-order cybernetics and systems theories of von Foerster, Maruyama, Maturana & Varela, and Luhmann, coupled with embodied theories of cognition and semiotics as a general theory of meaning from von Uexküll and Peirce. (shrink)
Sustainability assessments bring together different perspectives that pertain to sustainability in order to produce overall assessments and a wealth of approaches and tools have been developed in the past decades. But two major problematics remain. The problem of integration concerns the surplus of possibilities for integration; different tools produce different assessments. The problem of implementation concerns the barrier between assessment and transformation; assessments do not lead to the expected changes in practice. This paper aims to analyze issues of complementarity in (...) sustainability assessment and transformation as a key to better handling the problems of integration and implementation. Based on a generalization of Niels Bohr’s complementarity from quantum mechanics, we have identified two forms of complementarity in sustainability assessment, observer stance complementarity and value complementarity. Unlike many other problems of sustainability assessment, complementarity is of a fundamental character connected to the very conditions for observation. Therefore complementarity cannot be overcome methodologically; only handled better or worse. Science is essential to the societal goal of sustainability, but these issues of complementarity impede the constructive role of science in the transition to more sustainable structures and practices in food systems. The agencies of sustainability assessment and transformation need to be acutely aware of the importance of different perspectives and values and the complementarities that may be connected to these differences. An improved understanding of complementarity can help to better recognize and handle issues of complementarity. These deliberations have relevance not only for sustainability assessment, but more generally for transdisciplinary research on wicked problems. (shrink)
There is a traditional scepticism about whether the world "out there" really is as we perceive it. A new breed of hyper-sceptics now challenges whether we even have the perceptual experience we think we have. According to these writers, perceptual consciousness is a kind of false consciousness. This view grows out of the discovery of such phenomena as change blindness and inattentional blindness, which show that we can all be quite blind to changes taking place before our very eyes. Such (...) radical scepticism has acute and widespread implications for the study of perception and consciousness. The writings collected in this volume explore these implications. The contributors are scientists and philosophers at the forefront of this research, and include well-known authors such as psychologists Susan Blackmore and Arien Mack, and philosophers Andy Clark and Daniel Dennett. They have an gift for bringing these paradoxical issues to life and sharing their excitement with the non-specialist. (shrink)
This paper investigates a new species ofskeptical reasoning about visual experience that takesits start from developments in perceptual science(especially recent work on change blindness andinattentional blindness). According to thisskepticism, the impression of visual awareness of theenvironment in full detail and high resolution isillusory. I argue that the new skepticism depends onmisguided assumptions about the character ofperceptual experience, about whether perceptualexperiences are ''internal'' states, and about how bestto understand the relationship between a person''s oranimal''s perceptual capacities and the brain-level orneural processes (...) on which they depend. I propose aconception of perceptual experience as a form ofskillful engagement with the environment on the partof the whole person or animal. (shrink)
As perceivers we are able to keep track of the ways in which our perceptual experience depends on what we do. This capacity, which Hurley calls perspectival self- consciousness, is a special instance of our more general ability as perceivers to keep track of how things are. I argue that one upshot of this is that perspectival self- consciousness, like the ability to perceive more generally, relies on our possession of conceptual skills.
This paper looks at two puzzles raised by the phenomenon of inattentional blindness. First, how can we see at all if, in order to see, we must first perceptually attend to that which we see? Second, if attention is required for perception, why does it seem to us as if we are perceptually aware of the whole detailed visual field when it is quite clear that we do not attend to all that detail? We offer a general framework for thinking (...) about perception and perceptual consciousness that addresses these questions and we propose, in addition, an informal account of the relation between attention and consciousness. On this view, perceptual awareness is a species of attention. (shrink)
Correspondence: Alva Noë, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720-2390, USA. _Email: email@example.com_ Evan Thompson, Philosophy Department, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada. _Email: firstname.lastname@example.org_.
Perhaps the most influential compatibilist response to this question is Fodor's strategy of levels. Fodor argues that although psychological laws range over world-involving propositional attitudes and their contents, these laws are implemented in computational mechanisms that supervene on the individual's intrinsic states.
A significant impediment to the study of perceptual consciousness is our dependence on simplistic ideas about what experience is like. This is a point that has been made by Wittgenstein, and by philosophers working in the Phenomenological Tradition, such as Husserl and Merleau-Ponty. Importantly, it is an observation that has been brought to the fore in recent discussions of consciousness among philosophers and cognitive scientists who have come to feel the need for a more rigorous phenomenology of experience. The central (...) thought of this paper is that art can make a needed contribution to the study of perceptual consciousness. The work of some artists can teach us about perceptual consciousness by furnishing us with the opportunity to have a special kind of reflective experience. In this way, art can be a tool for phenomenological investigation. The paper focuses on the work of Richard Serra and offers a comparison of his work with that of Tony Smith. (shrink)
Modern societies depend on a growing production of scientific knowledge, which is based on the functional differentiation of science into still more specialised scientific disciplines and subdisciplines. This is the basis for the paradox of scientific expertise: The growth of science leads to a fragmentation of scientific expertise. To resolve this paradox, the present paper investigates three hypotheses: 1) All scientific knowledge is perspectival. 2) The perspectival structure of science leads to specific forms of knowledge asymmetries. 3) Such perspectival knowledge (...) asymmetries must be handled through second order perspectives. We substantiate these hypotheses on the basis of a perspectivist philosophy of science grounded in Peircean semiotics and autopoietic systems theory. Perspectival knowledge asymmetries are an unavoidable and necessary part of the growth of scientific knowledge, and more awareness of this fact can help avoid blind and futile struggles between scientific perspectives, and direct efforts toward more appropriate ways of handling these fundamental knowledge asymmetries. Concretely, we show how different kinds of scientific knowledge, expertise, disagreement and learning can be correlated to the perspectival structure of science, and propose how polyocular communication based on observations of the observations made by specialised perspectives can be used to handle such perspectival knowledge asymmetries. This can help overcome the observed problems in carrying out cross-disciplinary research and in the collective use of different kinds of scientific expertise, and thereby make society better able to solve complex, real-world problems. (shrink)
Die blosse Redensart "ich nehme x wahr" ist schon aus der physikalischen Ausdrucksweise genommen und x soll hier ein physikalischer Gegenstand—z.B. ein Körper—sein. Es ist schon falsch, diese Redeweise in der Phänomenologie zu verwenden, wo dann x ein Datum bedeuten muss. Denn nun kann auch "ich" und "nehme wahr" nicht den Sinn haben, wie oben.
Context: Society is faced with “wicked” problems of environmental sustainability, which are inherently multiperspectival, and there is a need for explicitly constructivist and perspectivist theories to address them. Problem: However, different constructivist theories construe the environment in different ways. The aim of this paper is to clarify the conceptions of environment in constructivist approaches, and thereby to assist the sciences of complex systems and complex environmental problems. Method: We describe the terms used for “the environment” in von Uexküll, Maturana & (...) Varela, and Luhmann, and analyse how their conceptions of environment are connected to differences of perspective and observation. Results: We show the need to distinguish between inside and outside perspectives on the environment, and identify two very different and complementary logics of observation, the logic of distinction and the logic of representation, in the three constructivist theories. Implications: Luhmann’s theory of social systems can be a helpful perspective on the wicked environmental problems of society if we consider carefully the theory’s own blind spots: that it confines itself to systems of communication, and that it is based fully on the conception of observation as indication by means of distinction. (shrink)
I offer a critique of Melissa Zinkin’s reading of Kant’s analysis of aesthetic judgment. She argues that in judgments of taste the imagination is freed from its determinate relation with the understanding because the form of intuition in which beauty is apprehended is different from the form of intuition employed in determinate judgment. By distinguishing between an extensive and intensive form of intuition, this interpretation is able to explain why the apprehension of beauty cannot be subsumed under a concept. But (...) I contest Zinkin’s identification of the sensus communis with this intensive form of intuition. I then substantiate two interrelated claims: that we can account for the genesis of the sensus communis by distinguishing between an intensive and an extensive form of time, and that we can avoid making the sensus communis atemporal by showing that it resides within an intensive form of time as a condition for its possibility, thereby structuring Kant’s account of the sensus communis securely within the critical framework. (shrink)
profile deforms as we move about it. As perceivers we are masters of the patterns of sensorimotor contingency that shape our perceptual interaction with the world. We expect changes in such things as apparent size, shape and color to occur as we actively explore the environment. In encountering perspective-dependent changes of this sort, we learn how things are quite apart form our particular perspective. Our possession of these skills is constitutive of our ability to see . This is confirmed by (...) the fact that we can disrupt a person. (shrink)
In the past decade, the notion of a neural correlate of consciousness has become a focal point for scientific research on consciousness. A growing number of investigators believe that the first step toward a science of consciousness is to discover the neural correlates of consciousness. Indeed, Francis Crick has gone so far as to proclaim that ‘we need to discover the neural correlates of consciousness. For this task the primate visual system seems especially attractive. No longer need one spend time (...) attempting to endure the tedium of philosophers perpetually disagreeing with each other. Consciousness is now largely a scientific problem’. Yet the question of what it means to be a neural correlate of consciousness is actually far from straightforward, for it involves fundamental empirical, methodological, and philosophical issues about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. Even if one assumes, as we do, that states of consciousness causally depend on states of the brain, one can nevertheless wonder in what sense there is, or could be, such a thing as a neural correlate of consciousness. (shrink)
Questions have been raised on what role the knowledge provided by sustainability science actually plays in the transition to sustainability and what role it may play in the future. In this paper we investigate different approaches to sustainability transformation of food systems by analyzing the rationale behind transformative acts-the ground that the direct agents of change act upon- and how the type of rationale is connected to the role of research and how the agents of change are involved. To do (...) this we employ Max Weber’s distinction between instrumental rationality and value-rationality in social action. In particular, we compare two different approaches to the role of research in sustainability transformation: (1) Performance-based approaches that measure performance and set up sustainability indicator targets and benchmarks to motivate the agents in the food system to change; (2) Values-based approaches that aim at communicating and mediating sustainability values to enable coordinated and cooperative action to transform the food system. We identify their respective strengths and weaknesses based on a cross-case analysis of four cases, and propose that the two approaches, like Weber’s two types of rationality, are complementary-because they are based on complementary observer stances—and that an optimal in-between approach therefore cannot be found. However, there are options for reflexive learning by observing one perspective-and its possible blind spots-from the vantage point of the other, so we suggest that new strategies for sustainability transformation can be found based on reflexive rationality as a third and distinct type of rationality. (shrink)