Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Insofar as they locate experiences anywhere, enactive models (...) locate conscious phenomenology in the dynamic interaction of organisms with the external world, and in some versions, they reduce conscious phenomenology to such interactions, in the hope that this will resolve the hard problem of consciousness. The reflexivemodel accepts that experiences of the world result from dynamic organism–environment interactions, but argues that such interactions are preconscious. While the resulting phenomenal world is a consequence of such interactions, it cannot be reduced to them. The reflexivemodel is externalist in its claim that this external phenomenal world, which we normally think of as the “physical world,” is literally outside the brain. Furthermore, there are no added conscious experiences of the external world inside the brain. In the present paper I present the case for the enactive and reflexive alternatives to more classical views and evaluate their consequences. I argue that, in closing the gap between the phenomenal world and what we normally think of as the physical world, the reflexivemodel resolves one facet of the hard problem of consciousness. Conversely, while enactive models have useful things to say about percept formation and representation, they fail to address the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
Classical ways of viewing the relation of consciousness to the brain and physical world make it difficult to see how consciousness can be a subject of scientific study. In contrast to physical events, it seems to be private, subjective, and viewable only from a subject's first-person perspective. But much of psychology does investigate human experience, which suggests that classical ways of viewing these relations must be wrong. An alternative, Reflexivemodel is outlined along with it's consequences for methodology. (...) Within this model the external phenomenal world is viewed as part-of consciousness, rather than apart-from it. Observed events are only "public" in the sense of "private experience shared." Scientific observations are only "objective" in the sense of "intersubjective." Observed phenomena are only "repeatable" in the sense that they are sufficiently similar to be taken for "tokens" of the same event "type." This closes the gap between physical and psychological phenomena. Indeed, events out-there in the world can often be regarded as either physical or psychological depending on the network of relationships under consideration. (shrink)
Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the 'mantle of science,' it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to naturalise consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It is possible, however, to develop a natural, nonreductive, reflexivemodel of how (...) consciousness relates to the brain and the physical world. This paper introduces such a model and how it construes the nature of conscious experience. Within this model the physical world as perceived is viewed as part of conscious experience not apart from it. While in everyday life we treat this phenomenal world as if it is the "physical world", it is really just one biologically useful representation of what the world is like that may differ in many respects from the world described by physics. How the world as perceived relates to the world as described by physics can be investigated by normal science . This model of consciousness appears to be consistent with both third-person evidence of how the brain works and with first-person evidence of what it is like to have a given experience. According to the reflexivemodel, conscious experiences are really how they seem. (shrink)
Dualist and Reductionist theories of mind disagree about whether or not consciousness can be reduced to a state of or function of the brain. They assume, however, that the contents of consciousness are separate from the external physical world as-perceived. According to the present paper this assumption has no foundation either in everyday experience or in science. Drawing on evidence for perceptual projection in both interoceptive and exteroceptive sense modalities, the case is made that the physical world as-perceived is a (...) construct of perceptual processing and, therefore, part of the contents of consciousness. A finding which requires a Reflexive rather than a Dualist or Reductionist model of how consciousness relates to the brain and the physical world. The physical world as-perceived may, in turn be thought of as a biologically useful model of the world as described by physics. Redrawing the boundaries of consciousness to include the physical world as-perceived undermines the conventional separation of the 'mental' from the physical', and with it the very foundation of the Dualist-Reductionist debate. The alternative Reflexivemodel departs radically from current conventions, with consequences for many aspects of consciousness theory and research. Some of the consequences which bear on the internal consistency and intuitive plausibility of the model are explored, e.g. the causal sequence in perception, representationalism, a suggested resolution of the Realism versus Idealism debate, and the way manifest differences between physical events as-perceived and other conscious events are to be construed. In the present paper I wish to challenge some of our most deeply-rooted assumptions about what consciousness is, by re-examining how consciousness, the human brain, and the surrounding physical world relate to each other. (shrink)
This brief note corrects some basic errors in Meijsing's JCS paper on 'The Whereabouts of Pictorial Space', concerning the status of phenomenal objects in the reflexivemodel of perception. In particular I clarify the precise sense in which a phenomenal object relates to the object itself in visual perception.
Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the ‘mantle of science,’ it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to ‘naturalise’ consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It is possible, however, to develop a natural, nonreductive, reflexivemodel of how (...) consciousness relates to the brain and the physical world. This paper introduces such a model and how it construes the nature of conscious experience. Within this model the physical world as perceived (the phenomenal world) is viewed as part of conscious experience not apart from it. While in everyday life we treat this phenomenal world as if it is the “physical world”, it is really just one biologically useful representation of what the world is like that may differ in many respects from the world described by physics. How the world as perceived relates to the world as described by physics can be investigated by normal science (e.g. through the study of sensory physiology, psychophysics and so on). This model of consciousness appears to be consistent with both third-person evidence of how the brain works and with first-person evidence of what it is like to have a given experience. It also views consciousness as an integral part and natural expression of the world—in a manner true to the spirit (if not to the detail) of Whitehead’s philosophy. -/- . (shrink)
This paper summarised the main arguments presented in "Consciousness, brain and the physical world" Philosophical Psychology (1990) to introduce a symposium on that paper. This was the first symposium on Velmans' ReflexiveModel of Perception (the departure point for Reflexive Monism). This summary of the 1990 paper was followed by three critiques (by Robert Rentoul, Norman Wetherick, and Grant Gillett) followed by two replies. At the time of this upload (25 years later) many of the points (...) in the 1991 paper have become common currency, however some of the confusions about the implications of the reflexivemodel persist, so the discussion continues to have contemporary relevance. See academia.edu link for the entire symposium. (shrink)
This reply appeared in a symposium on "Consciousness and the Physical World" published in Philosophical Psychology in 1992.This was the first symposium on Velmans' ReflexiveModel of Perception (the departure point for Reflexive Monism) initially presented in "Consciousness, Brain and the Physical World" (1990) also in Philosophical Psychology. The symposium begins with Velmans' summary of the main arguments in that paper, followed by critiques from two psychologists--Robert Rentoul and Norman Wetherick. Velmans replies to the critiques and (...) the entire treatment is further critiqued by the philosopher Grant Gillett, followed by Velmans' final reply. At the time of this upload (25 years later) many of the points in the original paper have become common currency, however some of the confusions about the implications of the reflexivemodel persist, so the discussion continues to have contemporary relevance. (shrink)
This chapter examines the similarities and differences between physical, psychological and virtual realities, and challenges some conventional, implicitly dualist assumptions about how these relate to each other. Virtual realities are not easily understood in either dualist or materialist reductive terms, as they exemplify the reflexive nature of perception. The chapter summarises some of the evidence for this “reflexivemodel”—and examines some of its consequences for the “hard” problem of consciousness. The chapter then goes on to consider (...) how these realities might relate to some grounding reality or thing-itself, and considers some of the personal and social consequences of becoming increasingly immersed in virtual realities. Although this chapter was published in 1998 and develops work published in 1990, it presents a form of “radical externalism” that anticipates many themes in current (2006) internalism versus externalism debates about the nature of mind. It is also relevant to an understanding of virtual reality “presence.”. (shrink)
This paper is a commentary on Rupert Sheldrake’s analysis of theories of perception (in JCS, 2005, 2006). As Sheldrake points out in his fascinating review of ancient and modern thinking on this subject, theories of vision have ranged from “extramissive” theories that posit some active influence emanating from the eyes that both illuminates and influences the external world, “intramissive” theories that stress the influence of the external world on the (passive) brain, and theories in which intramissive and extramissive influences (...) combine. As Sheldrake notes, up to the 12th Century, extramissive theories were dominant, but with an increasing understanding of the way light reflected from an object is focused on the retina by the lens of the eye, intramissive theories have become dominant. Drawing on his research on staring experiments, Sheldrake defends an extramissive theory. In this commentary I argue for a model of perception that combines intramissive and extramissive influences, which accepts all third-person evidence for intramissive causal antecedents to visual perception while at the same time accepting the phenomenal evidence for the apparent external nature of the perceived world—an extramissive psychological effect that I refer to as “perceptual projection”. I also suggest some additions to the model that might begin to make sense of apparently extramissive causes of the type needed to explain staring experiments. Ultimately, I suggest, we may need to accept that we are in our minds, but might be partly out of our brains! -/- . (shrink)
This paper assesses the so-called “direct-perception” model of empathy. This model draws much of its inspiration from the Phenomenological tradition: it is offered as an account free from the assumption that most, if not all, of another’s psychological states and experiences are unobservable and that one’s understanding of another’s psychological states and experiences are based on inferential processes. Advocates of this model also reject the simulation-based approach to empathy. I first argue that most of their criticisms (...) miss their target because they are directed against the simulation-based approach to mindreading. Advocates of this model further subscribe to an expressivist conception of human behavior and assume that some of an individual’s psychological states (e.g. her goals and emotions, not her beliefs) can be directly perceived in the individual’s expressive behavior. I argue that advocates of the direct-perceptionmodel face the following dilemma: either they embrace behaviorism or else they must recognize that one could not understand another’s goal or emotion from her behavior alone without making contextual assumptions. Finally, advocates of the direct-perceptionmodel endorse the narrative competency hypothesis, according to which the ability to ascribe beliefs to another is grounded in the ability to understand narratives. I argue that this hypothesis is hard to reconcile with recent results in developmental psychology showing that preverbal human infants seem able to ascribe false beliefs to others. (shrink)
How much does stimulus input shape perception? The common-sense view is that our perceptions are representations of objects and their features and that the stimulus structures the perceptual object. The problem for this view concerns perceptual biases as responsible for distortions and the subjectivity of perceptual experience. These biases are increasingly studied as constitutive factors of brain processes in recent neuroscience. In neural network models the brain is said to cope with the plethora of sensory information by predicting stimulus (...) regularities on the basis of previous experiences. Drawing on this development, this chapter analyses perceptions as processes. Looking at olfaction as a model system, it argues for the need to abandon a stimulus-centred perspective, where smells are thought of as stable percepts, computationally linked to external objects such as odorous molecules. Perception here is presented as a measure of changing signal ratios in an environment informed by expectancy effects from top-down processes. (shrink)
In order to secure the limits of the critical use of reason, and to succeed in the critique of speculative metaphysics, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) had to present a full account of human cognitive experience. Perception in Kant’s Model of Experience is a detailed investigation of this aspect of Kant’s grand enterprise with a special focus: perception. The overarching goal is to understand this common phenomenon both in itself and as the key to understanding Kant’s views of experience. (...) In the process, the author argues against any such reading of Kant that puts too much emphasis on concepts and understanding in perception. This means that claims of the sort that intuitions cannot play their role without concepts, that sensibility cannot bring anything to cognition without being mediated through the functions of understanding, or that there is no such thing as concept-independent perception, are shown to be either plainly false or misleading at best. Together with the contemporary topics examined by the end of the book, the findings suggest how the role of conceptual thinking in human cognition has been exaggerated partly because of a misplaced interpretation of Kant, which not only makes perception far more intellectual in character than what was intended by Kant himself, but distorts Kant’s account of cognition by overlooking what there is at the heart of his critical philosophy: the revaluation of sensible cognition. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: The Reflexive Theory of Perception (RTP) claims that perception of an object or property X by an organism Z consists in Z being caused by X to acquire some disposition D toward X itself. This broadly behavioral perceptual theory explains perceptual intentionality and correct versus incorrect, plus successful versus unsuccessful, perception in a plausible evolutionary framework. The theory also undermines cognitive and perceptual modularity assumptions, including informational or purely epistemic views of perception in that, (...) according to the RTP, any X-caused and X-directed dispositions are genuinely perceptual—including affective, attitudinal, and immediately activated purely action-directed behavioral dispositions. Thus the RTP has the potential to provide the foundations for a broadly behavioral counter-revolution in cognitive science. (shrink)
The Perception-Action Model of empathy (PAM) is both sufficiently broad and sufficiently detailed to be able to describe and accommodate a wide range of phenomena – including the apparent “cold-heartedness” or lack of empathy of psychopaths. We show how the physiological, cognitive, and emotional elements of the PAM map onto known and hypothesized attributes of the psychopathic personality.
Undoubtedly the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model may be considered as a good theory for describing information processing mechanisms and holistic phenomena in the human brain, but it doesn’t give us satisfactory explanation of human perception. In this work a new approach explaining our perception is introduced, which is in good agreement with Orch OR model and other mainstream science theories such as string theory, loop quantum gravity and holographic principle. It is shown that human perception (...) cannot be explained in the terms of elementary particles and we should introduce new indivisible holistic objects with geometry based on smooth infinitesimal analysis - elastic membranes. The example of such a membrane is our Universe which is an indivisible whole. It is shown that our perception may be considered as the result of elastic oscillations of two dimensional (2D) elastic membranes with closed topology embedded in our bodies. Only one elastic membrane responsible for its perceptions will correspond to the selected organism, but there may be other membranes, even at the cell level. In other words, reality may be considered as the process of time evolution of holistic energetically very weak macro objects - elastic membranes with the geometry based on smooth infinitesimal analysis. An embedded membrane in this multidimensional world will look different for the external and internal observers: from the outside it will look like a material object with smooth infinitesimal geometry, while from the inside our Universe-like space-time fabric. When interacting with elementary particles and other membranes, a membrane will transform their energy into its elastic energy (a new form of energy) - the energy of stretching of the infinitesimal segments. The theory postulates that these elastic deformations will not be observable from the point of view of the internal observer. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle will work in this physics only from the point of view of the internal observer. For the external observer each embedded elastic membrane may be stretched and even a very small region will become observable. For example, living organisms play the role of internal observers of the Universe, and at the same time they serve as external observers for 2D membranes embedded into our Universe. We can observe our 2D self-membranes through our perceptions, which are encoded in elastic oscillations of the elastic membrane. According to the theory, elastic membranes occupy energetically favorable positions around microtubules involved into Orch OR. The theory not only gives us a really multidimensional holistic picture of reality, but it also provides us with a new method for understanding such phenomena as perception, self-awareness and will. (shrink)
(added for 2013 upload): This chapter compares classical dualist and reductionist views of phenomenal consciousness with an alternative, reflexive way of viewing the relations amongst consciousness, brain and the external physical world. It argues that dualism splits the universe in two fundamental ways: in viewing phenomenal consciousness as having neither location nor extension it splits consciousness from the material world, and subject from object. Materialist reductionism views consciousness as a brain state or function (located and extended in the brain) (...) which eliminates the consciousness/material world split, but retains the split of subject from object. The chapter argues that neither dualism nor reductionism accurately describes the phenomenal world; consequently they each provide a misleading understanding of phenomenal consciousness. Reflexive monism follows the contours of everyday experience, thereby allowing a more unified understanding of how phenomenal consciousness relates to the brain and external physical world that is consistent both with the findings of science and with common sense. The chapter goes on to consider how phenomenal objects relate to real objects, perceptual projection, how phenomenal space relates to physical space, whether the brain is in the world or the world in the brain, and why this matters for science. (shrink)
A core commitment of the reflexive theory of consciousness is that conscious states are themselves necessarily the contents of mental states. The strongest argument for this claim—the necessity of inner-content for consciousness—is the argument from unconscious perception. According to this argument, we find evidence for the necessity claim from cases of alleged unconscious perception, the most well-known and widely discussed of these being blindsight. However, the reflexive theory cannot partake in this argument and therefore, must rely (...) on at least one of the other arguments for the necessity claim. These arguments are significantly less convincing than the argument from unconscious perception, and thus the reflexive theory is left in a dialectically weak position. (shrink)
The field of machine perception is based on standard informational and computational approaches to perception. But naturalistic informational theories are widely regarded as being inadequate, while purely syntactic computational approaches give no account of perceptual content. Thus there is a significant need for a novel, purely naturalistic perceptual theory not based on informational or computational concepts, which could provide a new paradigm for mechanistic perception. Now specifically evolutionary naturalistic approaches to perception have been—perhaps surprisingly—almost completely neglected (...) for this purpose. Arguably perceptual mechanisms enhance evolutionary fitness by facilitating sensorily mediated causal interactions between an organism Z and items X in its environment. A ‘reflexive’ theory of perception of this kind is outlined, according to which an organism Z perceives an item X just in case X causes a sensory organ zi of Z to cause Z to acquire a disposition toward the very same item X that caused the perception. The rest of the paper shows how an intuitively plausible account of mechanistic perception can be developed and defended in terms of the reflexive theory. Also, a compatibilist option is provided for those who wish to preserve a distinct informational concept of perception. (shrink)
This text aims at presenting a general characterization of the act of perceiving a particular object, in a framework in which perception is conceived of as a mental and cognitive faculty having specific functions that other faculties such as imagination and memory do not possess. I introduce the problem of determining the occurrence of singular perception of a physical object, as opposed to the occurrence of other mental states or attitudes. I propose that clarifying this occurrence problem requires (...) making explicit the conditions of perceptual competence/faculty so as to explain the occurrence of each perceptual performance on the basis of the use of this competence. I argue then for a direct relational model according to which the singular perception of an object depends on a competence of connecting the perceiver directly with each target object. This model is compatible with a disjunctive approach to perception according to which each particular experience of an object corresponds either to a direct perceptual relation with this object or to the illusion of having the experience of this object. The arguments in favour of this relational model rest on the idea that the faculty of perception grounds the capacity to demonstratively identify physical objects. (shrink)
We discuss the relation of the Theory of Event Coding (TEC) to a computational model of expert perception, CHREST, based on the chunking theory. TEC's status as a verbal theory leaves several questions unanswerable, such as the precise nature of internal representations used, or the degree of learning required to obtain a particular level of competence: CHREST may help answer such questions.
The shared circuits model (SCM) is a bold attempt to explain how humans make sense of action, at different levels. In this commentary we single out five concerns: (1) the lack of a developmental account, (2) the absence of double-dissociation evidence, (3) the neglect of joint attention and joint action, (4) the inability to explain discrete emotion perception, and (5) the lack of predictive power or testability of the model. We conclude that Hurley's model requires further (...) work before it could be seen as an improvement over earlier models. (shrink)
This article proposes an object properties approach to object perception. By thinking about objects as clusters of co-instantiated features that possess certain canonical higher-order object properties we can steer a middle way between two extreme views that are dominant in different areas of empirical research into object perception and the development of the object concept. Object perception should be understood in terms of perceptual sensitivity to those object properties, where that perceptual sensitivity can be explained in a (...) manner consistent with the graded representation approach adopted by some connectionist modellers. The object properties approach does justice to the differences between a perceptual system solving the binding problem, on the one hand, and genuinely perceiving objects, on the other, without running into the theoretical problems associated with treating young infants as 'little scientists'. (shrink)
From 1990 on, the London psychologist Max Velmans developed a novel approach to consciousness according to which an experience of an object is phenomenologically identical to an object as experienced. On the face of it I agree; but unlike Velmans I argue that the latter should be understood as comparable, not to a Kantian, but rather to a noematic.
The Kubovy-Epstein proposal for the formalization of the relation between kinematic geometry and perception of motion has formal problems in itself. Motion phenomena are inadequately captured by the relational structures and the notion of isomorphism taken over from measurement theory. [Kubovy & Epstein].
The discovery of so-called ‘mirror neurons’ - found to respond both to own actions and the observation of similar actions performed by others - has been enormously influential in the cognitive sciences and beyond. Given the self-other symmetry these neurons have been hypothesized as underlying a ‘mirror mechanism’ that lets us share representations and thereby ground core social cognitive functions from intention understanding to linguistic abilities and empathy. I argue that mirror neurons are important for very different reasons. Rather than (...) a symmetric ubiquitous or context- independent mechanism, I propose that these neurons are part of broader sensorimotor circuits, which help us navigate and predict the social affordance space that we meet others in. To develop both the critical and positive project I analyze the interpretive choices and the debate surrounding the mirror neuron research and show how the field is marred by highly questionable assumptions about respectively motor and social cognition. The discovery of mirror neurons - and the sensorimotor circuits of which these neurons are a part – actually empirically challenge many of these tacit assumptions. Findings of sensorimotor goal representations at levels of abstraction well beyond actual sensory information and kinetic movements challenge the idea of motor cognition as primarily output production. Additionally, the focus on 3rd person mindreading of hidden mental states is misguiding the field of social cognition. Much ‘mind-reading’ seems rooted in sensorimotor representations and a developmentally primary 2nd person understanding of actions and the mental lives of others, which precisely breaks the assumed dichotomy between mind and behavior. I propose a Social Affordance model where parallel fronto-parietal sensorimotor circuits support representations not just of other people’s actions but of the overall social affordance space. It is a process that monitors concrete goals and teleological possibilities that the environment affords respectively oneself and other present agents. With this model I hypothesize that the complex spectrum of sensorimotor integrations are indeed essential not only to normal action choice calibration but also to social cognitive abilities, as the sensorimotor teleological representations let us relate to others and understand their action choices in a shared pragmatic and intentional context. (shrink)
Weak Quantum Theory (WQT) and the Model of Pragmatic Information (MPI) are two psychophysical concepts developed on the basis of quantum physics. The present study contributes to their empirical examination. The issue of the study is whether WQT and MPI can not only explain ‘psi’-phenomena theoretically but also prove to be consistent with the empirical phenomenology of extrasensory perception (ESP). From the main statements of both models, 33 deductions for psychic readings are derived. Psychic readings are defined as (...) settings, in which psychics support or counsel clients by using information not mediated through the five senses. A qualitative approach is chosen to explore how the psychics experience extrasensory perceptions. Eight psychics are interviewed with a half-structured method. The reports are examined regarding deductive and inductive aspects, using a multi-level structured content analysis. The vast majority of deductions is clearly confirmed by the reports. Even though the study has to be seen as an explorative attempt with many aspects to be specified, WQT and MPI prove to be coherent and helpful concepts to explain ESP in psychic readings. (shrink)
Using a national survey of US consumers, this study demonstrates the positive effects of corporate social responsibility communication factors on consumers’ CSR knowledge, trust, and perceptions of corporate reputation. The study also examines the role of a stakeholder-specific factor of consumer–company identification in the process of CSR communication. The findings suggest that the positive effects of CSR informativeness are enduring and independent of consumers’ identification levels with a company, whereas the positive consequences of the personal relevance, transparency, and factual tone (...) of CSR communication intensify as the identification levels increase. Although CSR communication in which a self-promotional tone is adopted has a negative relationship with consumer trust and corporate reputation, such negative effects are not evident among consumers with very high identification levels with a company. Such CSR communication in fact improves consumers’ CSR knowledge and, in turn, has a positive effect on corporate reputation. (shrink)
This paper proposes a theory of how conscious emotional experience is produced by the brain as the result of many interacting brain areas coordinated in working memory. These brain areas integrate perceptions of bodily states of an organism with cognitive appraisals of its current situation. Emotions are neural processes that represent the overall cognitive and somatic state of the organism. Conscious experience arises when neural representations achieve high activation as part of working memory. This theory explains numerous phenomena concerning emotional (...) consciousness, including diﬀerentiation, integration, intensity, valence, and change. Ó 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Marr (1982) may have been one of the rst vision researchers to insist that in modeling vision it is important to separate the location of visual features from their type. He argued that in early stages of visual processing there must be “place tokens” that enable subsequent stages of the visual system to treat locations independent of what specic feature type was at that location. Thus, in certain respects a collinear array of diverse features could still be perceived as a (...) line, and under certain conditions could function as such in perceptual phenomena like the Poggendorf illusion. (shrink)