Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Objectivism's problem of percept formation

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Hi,

I'm new to the forum and wanted to throw out some ideas for consideration. I looked through the topics and did not see anything related to this issue so I thought I would bring it up. The issue deals with percept fromation.

Rands idea of percept formation is as follows:

From Rand:

"A perception is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism, which gives it the ability to be aware, not of single stimuli, but of entities, of things"

On precepts of animals:

"It is able to grasp the perceptual concretes immediately present and it is able to form automatic perceptual associations, but it can go no further."

According to Rand,

" In the same way that sensations are automatic responses to external stimuli, precepts are automatic integrations of sensations".

Again Rand:

"A percept is a group of sensations AUTOMATICALLY retained and INTEGRATED(combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit) by the brain of a living organism. It is in the form of percepts that man grasps the evidence of his senses and apprehends reality. When we speak of direct perception or direct awareness, we mean the perceptual level

Lets define our terms so we can speak the same language.

Sensations can be defined as the passive process of bringing information from the outside world into the body and to the brain. The process is passive in the sense that we do not have to be consciously engaging in a "sensing" process.

Perception can be defined as the active process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting the information brought to the brain by the senses.

It is on the level of "automatic" perceptual associations where the problems begin.

To say that precepts are automatic is to say that there is no process of consciousness involved in the forming of a precept. It is to say that there are no background inferences made to distinguish "this" from "that'. She is saying in essence that there is no separation between the sensation and the forming of entities. To say that precept formation is automatic is also to say that we all perceive the same entity and that it cannot be any other way. She is also saying that the precept is in the entity and not formed in the consciousness of the perceiver.To say precept formation is automatic is to say that background inferences are impossible, I will endeavor to show that she was incorrect.

Now, there has been a lot of research into what is called Gestalt Theory and it deals with the formation of precepts. For example:

Think of a cross for a moment and keep in mind Rand's ideas of precepts being formed AUTOMATICALLY. Automatic in this context means without volition, choice, or any act of consciousness.Why do we perceive a cross as two intersecting lines instead of four lines meeting in the middle? Either one is a valid precept that could be formed depending on the perceiver. If the process was automatic then there would only be one precept that could be formed but there isn't.

Keep in mind that at the perceptual level, there are no crosses there are only lines or entities.

Question: Please answer

Is it possible for two different people to to look at a cross and for one person to see four lines meeting at the center and one person to see two intersecting lines?

YES OR NO?

Another Example

Ex.:

---------------------

dsadssjkllkjjl;

---------------------

fgdsjkfhkjadfsh

Why are you more inclined to see horizontal rows of lines than vertical objects? Is it because of the similarity and proximity of the figures? In addition, the precept is also formed from the expectancy of words being displayed right to left but could have just as easily been formed vertically. This is the principle of expectancy -where sensory data is organized according to learned expectations.

The whole point is that this is not an automatic process. How could it be when the sensory information has to be selected, organized, and integrated to be made into a precept(thing) from raw sensory stimulus? Selected, integrate and organized are ACTIONS that could not happen without effort. In a primacy of existence model, it is the only explanation possible- to say that the precept is formed from the object but this is not and cannot be true.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you will have better luck understanding what Rand said if you focus on what Rand actually said, and don't import competing definitions from outside of Objectivism. The following is simply wrong, from the Objectivism perspective:

Sensations can be defined as the passive process of bringing information from the outside world into the body and to the brain. The process is passive in the sense that we do not have to be consciously engaging in a "sensing" process.

The concept "information" is, in fact conceptual, so it is much further up the epistemological hierarchy that sensations. Sensations are not a process.

The following is also a non sequitur:

To say that precepts are automatic is to say that there is no process of consciousness involved in the forming of a precept.

Perception is, obviously, a process of consciousness. "Consciousness" includes automatic and deliberative processes

The statement

She is saying in essence that there is no separation between the sensation and the forming of entities.

really doesn't mean anything. First, you perceive an entity, you don't sense an entity. Second, you don't form an entity, unless you mean you literally create some object out of clay or paper mache. Also, there is no such thing as "percept formation". There is concept formation, but not percept formation.

So, I'd suggest you start with at a more basic level of epistemology. Epistemology, mind you; you're pointing in the direction of perceptual psychology, and you can't import results from psychology until you have established the epistemological basics. I would recommend a focused investigation of ITOE, as a starting point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She is also saying that the precept is in the entity and not formed in the consciousness of the perceiver.To say precept formation is automatic is to say that background inferences are impossible, I will endeavor to show that she was incorrect.

I do not think she is saying that a percept is in an entity, but rather, it is just the form in which you perceive an entity.

Why are you more inclined to see horizontal rows of lines than vertical objects? Is it because of the similarity and proximity of the figures? In addition, the precept is also formed from the expectancy of words being displayed right to left but could have just as easily been formed vertically. This is the principle of expectancy -where sensory data is organized according to learned expectations.

Because of a conceptual process. Sensory data is automatically changed into a perceptual form, then through a process of reason, organized according to learned experiences. That process of organization is conceptual. As far as I know, gestalt theory does not define percepts in the same way that Rand does. Your brain doesn't automatically make sense of that garbled mess of characters, but by this point in your life, making sense of the them is an automatized subconscious process based on the percepts you've observed. Given the shape of the text, it is easier on a conceptual level to organize your percepts by grouping everything together horizontally. It does not occur automatically in the sense that it cannot be helped.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Daviodden,

Perhaps, I have not been clear.

A process is defined as series of actions or functions that bring about a result. "Information" is just a collection of data. There should be no problem here.

You are saying that percepts are not formed but I am arguing just the opposite and I am attempting to provide evidence to prove it.

Rand's idea of percept formation as automatic necessarily implies that there is no separation between sensations and the formation of an entity. To say that the entity is not formed in the mind of the person is to say that the entity exists only in reality but these exist only as a potential, only conscious beings perceive entities.In reality, there is only sensory stimulus.

You have obviously missed the point. Before something is perceived it must first be brought into the body through sensation-a perception is basically a grouping of sensations into a thing. I am talking about the process of perception itself, so you have missed the point by saying percepts are the product of sensations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Information" is just a collection of data. There should be no problem here.
The same problem exists with "data". Look at it this way: "data" has to be created by a volitional being, yet planaria have sensations. So clearly sensations aren't about "data".
You are saying that percepts are not formed but I am arguing just the opposite and I am attempting to provide evidence to prove it.
Do you understand what a concept is, and what "concept formation" means? If so, I would think you would see why "percept formation" simply isn't applicable.
Rand's idea of percept formation
No, no, no, no, no. Rand does not have any notion of "percept formation". That's what your problem is. I assume you're familiar with "indirect realism" -- but you seem to think that Objectivist epistemology is some kind of indirect realism. It ain't.
implies that there is no separation between sensations and the formation of an entity. To say that the entity is not formed in the mind of the person is to say that the entity exists only in reality but these exist only as a potential, only conscious beings perceive entities.In reality, there is only sensory stimulus.
The problem is that you're talking metaphorically. What do you literally mean by saying that you "form an entity"?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

David,

Sensory data is what exists in reality, it is not created in any sense-it is what is. There are no percepts in existence, percepts are only applicable to a conscious being.

You may be correct in saying percepts are not formed. Objectivism claims that percepts are groups of sensations that are automatically retained and integrated. To be more accurate, I'm saying that this process is not automatic for the reasons I mentioned. No, I am not talking about indirect realism but about the Objectivist idea of the automaticity of percepts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting topic!

When people talk about Rand's epistemology, they often conclude that what rand meant by percepts to be very concrete concepts (a cross for example, which is a concept, not a percept, a way of analyzing a shape.). From what I have gathered by talking to Objectvists, the best way to describe what a percept is to notice what you weren't noticing or analyzing, but was still there.

Sometimes when thinking our eyes stop focusing and we become so introspected that we stop paying any attention to what we are looking at (the other senses are included in this). Even though you are still receiving vision, you are not analyzing it at all, and thus you have no chance to call something a "cross" or a "two lines intersecting", or whatever way you want to analyze a thing. A percept is an extremely basic unit that you will have access regardless to the amount of attention you are paying to it.

I think the phenomena you are (expectancy) writing about still belongs to the category of "conceptual", even if it is subconscious.

Or did I misunderstand your point?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hairnet,

Yes, you did miss my point but I agree we do take this process for granted. Before it becomes a cross it is just a thing, an entity. Since there are many different entities that could potentially make up the larger entity of a cross,( such as two intersecting lines or four lines meeting at the middle)I am arguing that this process cannot be automatic because there are different possibilities present

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lets define our terms so we can speak the same language.

Sensations can be defined as the passive process of bringing information from the outside world into the body and to the brain. The process is passive in the sense that we do not have to be consciously engaging in a "sensing" process.

Perception can be defined as the active process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting the information brought to the brain by the senses.

Sensation is unintegrated awareness of an attribute apart from and without awareness of an entity.

Perception is the direct awareness of discriminated entities by means of patterns of energy absorption by sense receptors.

Perception is not active in the sense that it is the product of volitional computation or inference.

Question: Please answer

Is it possible for two different people to to look at a cross and for one person to see four lines meeting at the center and one person to see two intersecting lines?

YES OR NO?

YES. This is actually a judgement about what is seen. Both see the same set of lines, their identifications differ.

Ex.:

---------------------

dsadssjkllkjjl;

---------------------

fgdsjkfhkjadfsh

Why are you more inclined to see horizontal rows of lines than vertical objects? Is it because of the similarity and proximity of the figures? In addition, the precept is also formed from the expectancy of words being displayed right to left but could have just as easily been formed vertically. This is the principle of expectancy -where sensory data is organized according to learned expectations.

The whole point is that this is not an automatic process. How could it be when the sensory information has to be selected, organized, and integrated to be made into a precept(thing) from raw sensory stimulus? Selected, integrate and organized are ACTIONS that could not happen without effort. In a primacy of existence model, it is the only explanation possible- to say that the precept is formed from the object but this is not and cannot be true.

They are horizontal lines because of the white space, and composed of letters and symbols that are supposed to be read horizontally.

Yes, perception involves skill. Skills can be automatized to the point they are not under volitional control. Automatic means not under volitional control. No one has any control over the function of the cones and rods of the eyes, or of the optic nerve, or of the first bit of brain they interface to.

A thorough treatment of perception is given in "The Evidence of the Senses: A Realist Theory of Perception" by David Kelley. Check it out in a library or amazon.com, or see my Notes on "The Evidence of the Senses".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Grames,

I agree and that is precisely my point. Ayn was incorrect in her theory about the automaticity of percept formation.

Percepts are the epistemologically given. There is a causal explanation for how perception works rooted in what exists to be perceived and the conditions and physiology of the senses.

Do you dispute this? Because that is all that automatic means, it can hardly be incorrect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a causal explanation for how perception works rooted in what exists to be perceived and the conditions and physiology of the senses.

Of course there is a causal explanation, the point I'm trying to make is this causation differs from person to person-that it is not automatic. You seemed to agree in your earlier post:

"Yes, perception involves skill"

Doesn't this mean, it can vary person to person?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course there is a causal explanation, the point I'm trying to make is this causation differs from person to person-that it is not automatic. You seemed to agree in your earlier post:

"Yes, perception involves skill"

Doesn't this mean, it can vary person to person?

Yes. Different people are different. Why are you conflating automaticity with uniformity? Different people can do different things with different degrees of automaticity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems there is some issue what Rand meant by automatic. Let's look at her words to see the context:

"A perception is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism, which gives it the ability to be aware, not of single stimuli, but of entities, of things"

On precepts of animals:

"It is able to grasp the perceptual concretes immediately present and it is able to form automatic perceptual associations, but it can go no further."

According to Rand,

" In the same way that sensations are automatic responses to external stimuli, precepts are automatic integrations of sensations".

Again Rand:

"A percept is a group of sensations AUTOMATICALLY retained and INTEGRATED(combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit) by the brain of a living organism. It is in the form of percepts that man grasps the evidence of his senses and apprehends reality. When we speak of direct perception or direct awareness, we mean the perceptual level"

As you can see, she meant that the sensations are grouped, and integrated automatically. What else can this mean other than uniformity?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sensory data is what exists in reality, it is not created in any sense-it is what is.
The term "sensory data" is actually used in indirect realism to refer to intermediate mental objects, i.e. "brain spots" or whatever it is they believe in. I will assume then that you mean "sensory data" in a non-specialist manner. So right there you ought to be able to see what the problem is. Data is, by definition created; therefore, "sensory data" is a contradiction in terms. Sensations are, or course, created -- by a neural system, but they are not volitionally created, as data is.

But it seems to me most likely that you've gotten confused about the difference between a particular fact of reality, such as a cow, and our mental experience of the cow (by seeing it, for instance). The cow exists, completely independent of whether it gives rise to any senssations in the minds of other beings.

No, I am not talking about indirect realism but about the Objectivist idea of the automaticity of percepts.
You have not given any argument that the process of perception is non-automatic. The problem is that you were not arguing against perception, you were arguing against conceptual-level inference being automatic. Which, btw, Objectivism does not say is automatic.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ayn was incorrect in her theory about the automaticity of percept formation.
And yet, you previously said "You may be correct in saying percepts are not formed". I will repeat": there is no such thing as "percept formation". Therefore Rand obviously had no theory about "percept formation". She had a theory of perception, and you haven't shows that her theory of perception is wrong. Your argument is itself the problem -- you fail to distinguish perception and conceptual inference.
As you can see, she meant that the sensations are grouped, and integrated automatically. What else can this mean other than uniformity?
"Automatic" does not mean "uniform for all beings". For many people, repeated details of their daily lives becomes automatic, such as the drive to work. The knowledge of how to drive to work becomes automatic, not something that you must carefully dredge out of cognitive storage. Emotions are, in general, automatic evaluations of facts. But such knowledge is not uniform across humans. It is "uniform" within the individual.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you can see, she meant that the sensations are grouped, and integrated automatically. What else can this mean other than uniformity?

Automatic distinguishes a process that happens beneath or outside of volitional consciousness from a volitional process. If perception or sensation were volitional that entails consciousness creates its own contents, objectivity is impossible, and no one has reliable contact with reality. This is the same sense as used in the phrase 'direct perception' (within the context of Objectivism), which is in contrast to an inferential or computational perception where again consciousness would be deciding what it perceives.

Uniformity does not apply. What does apply is the principle of relativity: a stimulus can result in a percept in one person and a sensation in another.

Consciousness has the power to direct the attention of the senses, but not to determine what will be sensed or perceived. A heightened skill at perceiving is still a response to what is given.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

probeson,

Sensation is mechanistic. Photons impacting the cones or rods, atmosphere vibrating in a wave impacting the eardrums, etc.

Perception is done automatically, that is to say, without the being in question having to will itself to perceive. In contrast, human beings have to will themselves in order to form concepts or otherwise to think; but human beings (among other species) perceive automatically, whether or not they will themselves to, simply by virtue of having skin, taste buds, eyes, ears, and noses, all connected to a brain.

As DavidOdden and Grames indicate, "automatically" does not mean "uniformly." In fact, perception is learned. Human infants, like infants of other species, do not perceive immediately upon their birth. It takes some amount of time as they learn to perceive, as their brains learn automatically to integrate the sensory data into percepts, that is, into mental images or sounds. Additionally, perception is learned differently by different species and by different individuals within a species: for example, some humans are color-blind and see colors differently from other humans.

Perception is an automatically learned system of integrating raw sensory data into mental images or sounds, which are uncategorized. That is, the identification of a given percept as a horse versus as a house versus as a cross of two lines versus as a star of four lines is identification, and this process rests above and is dependent on perception.

Perception is, to the conscious mind, that which is given. To the conscious mind, percepts - mental images and sounds - are the raw stuff to be integrated into concepts. Perception is automatic, although not uniform, while conscious thought is not automatic and is as un-uniform as it gets. Nevertheless, sense-perception is infallible and concepts, properly formed, are objective.

Cheers

y_feldblum

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Probeson,

Your questions and curiosity are of a psychological nature, which does not leave out epistemological concerns, but you are getting answers almost exclusively from an epistemological context. It's apples and oranges, to a significant extent.

Rand was not familiar with the large body of experimental research in perceptual psychology, and her theorizing on perception is (and she states this) very basic and limited. But her account is consistent with experimental findings.

Sensory energies are transduced--reacted to and turned into a specific pattern of nerve responses--which is then propagated centrally (away from the sense organs, toward the brain.) In being transduced, its physical nature was changed, so light energy became electro-chemical action in nerves, and mechanical energy compressing the skin (touch) becomes electro-chemical action in nerves, etc. That is sensation, and, on the epistemological side, does not enter consciousness in this form.

Those nerve energies, during propagation, are automatically "processed." Exactly how is not agreed on. The most general idea is simply that the interconnections among our billions of nerve cells allow interactions among specific propagational nerve events. But that would be the stage when they were automatically "retained and integrated." It is interesting to note that propagation acts to "retain" the physical event of the impact of sensory energy on the sense organ. Propagation means other nerves fire, setting of others in a series, retaining the formal characteristics of the qualia of the sensory event, even after the energy transduced is past. The nerves in the retina adapt, which means they return to "neutral," and that characteristic of nerve function allows further sensory reception. We are left in the situation that further sensory energy can be transduced and propagated, and though those two sensory events did not occur together, they continue in existence as patterns of nerve synapsing, both continuing in a dynamic form, allowing them to influence one another.

The best way to think about the processing that produces perception, IMO, is in terms used by Gibson, a perceptual psychologist whose work has been very influential, though not dominant. His research identified invariances in the ambient sensory energy that corresponded to percepts. Now the sense organs are going to react to all the energy they receive, which includes the portion that turns out to correspond to Gibson's invariances. The processing, we may reasonably suppose, extracts those invariances from the changing sensory information. The result of this processing is the entry-level awarenesses of sensory-perceptual experience.

Concepts themselves are, of course, abstract. (This becomes a sticking point with some of the things Rand theorizes.) Abstraction means taking part of a content, and leaving part. You will note that extracting an invariance is also taking a part and leaving part. ("Part" is used here in the most abstract sense, a portion, some but not all...)

Now, the question of perceptual illusion, perceptual "set," and the role of inference in perception, including Gestalt. It should be obvious that we are, at every level of cognition, abstracting over the object itself. Sensation involves a specific type of energy, leaving out all others. Perception retains the invariances of sensory energy. Concepts are abstract, omitting part of the content of the percepts that they correspond to.

All abstractions work like pattern-matching. The part that is retained is the pattern, the part that is omitted is the "fabric." Read this like Aristotle's form and matter. If you have a pattern, you can identify individual things as either matching it or not. That is the sort of mechanism that is at work in perceptual illusion, perceptual "set," Gestalt, and all other "top-down" phenomena. So, for example, reversible images such as the famous vase and faces one, provide a significant portion of the sensory information (transduced energy) that a pair of faces would, and it also provides most or all of the information that a symmetrical vase would. If we retain the invariance of the facial contours (notice one is left-facing, and one right-facing so they are very different configurations except in the invariant respect that both could represent a profile,) we create a propagation-product that is invariant over pairs of left- and right-facing profiles, meaning we experience seeing facing profiles.

Repeat all of that for the vase, because the sensory information the whole picture supplies provides sensory energy that matches that of symmetrical objects such as vases and pedestals. Here's a puzzle: (take the idea of nerve-adaptation and figure out why the figure reverses itself if you look at it long enough.)

Notice that experience provides us with new patterns, and thus changes our potential to perceive. The availability of alternative patterns a given stimulus could match explains why in one situation one sees what, in another, one misses. The top-down influences amount to accessibility of alternate patterns to which a stimulus could be assimilated (assimilated/matched/abstracted.)

Note that abstraction requires a potential for alternative abstractions over the same thing. Abstraction takes part, leaving another part to possibly form a different abstraction.

Pattern-matching can certainly be automatic, and variations in automatic pattern-matching can, to repeat, reflect a prepotential some patterns have due to other, coincidental factors of experience. It all remains automatic.

-- Mindy

p.s. Did you happen to catch the latest issue of Sci Am. Mind magazine? See the new illusion, the leaning towers? Neat illusion, don't you think?

Edited by Mindy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As DavidOdden and Grames indicate, "automatically" does not mean "uniformly." In fact, perception is learned. Human infants, like infants of other species, do not perceive immediately upon their birth. It takes some amount of time as they learn to perceive, as their brains learn automatically to integrate the sensory data into percepts, that is, into mental images or sounds. Additionally, perception is learned differently by different species and by different individuals within a species: for example, some humans are color-blind and see colors differently from other humans.

Perception is an automatically learned system of integrating raw sensory data into mental images or sounds, which are uncategorized. That is, the identification of a given percept as a horse versus as a house versus as a cross of two lines versus as a star of four lines is identification, and this process rests above and is dependent on perception.

Cheers

y_feldblum

Generally, what is automatic is not learned, and vice versa. I don't know what to make of your statement that "Perception is an automatically learned system..." In the first paragraph, above, you equate color-blindness with "perception...learned differently."

What is the source of these propositions? I have never encountered a psychological position that says we learn how to perceive. It is true that we learn to perceive certain things...such as whether a tennis ball was hit with top-spin or under-spin, but that isn't learning how to perceive.

As a separate consideration, doesn't "automatic" imply "uniform?" There are aspects and there as aspects, but an action or event that is "automatic" is independent of outside factors in the relevant respect, is not conditioned on them. They are not variables in determining its properties. That means, logically, uniformity--in the relevant respect.

-- Mindy

Edited by Mindy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally, what is automatic is not learned, and vice versa. I don't know what to make of your statement that "Perception is an automatically learned system..." In the first paragraph, above, you equate color-blindness with "perception...learned differently."

What is the source of these propositions? I have never encountered a psychological position that says we learn how to perceive. It is true that we learn to perceive certain things...such as whether a tennis ball was hit with top-spin or under-spin, but that isn't learning how to perceive.

It seems common sense to me to claim that we learn how to perceive. If I look at, say, a pile of building blocks in the middle of a room, my eyes are automatically able to separate the blocks as independent objects from the background of the far wall. However, a newborn infant would not be able to do this. Such a child would at first only see a wash of color, not a room with depth and distinct objects. The infant would need to move around within the room, pick up the blocks, play with them, etc. Learning how to perceive is precisely what is occurring when infants do this. There are tons of subtle clues that I automatically pick up from the blocks that tell me they are distinct 3-dimensional objects within the room; the way the shadows are cast, the way some block my view of others, etc. However, when we are born, our brains don't immediately know what all these clues mean (this would be claiming inherent knowledge). We need to encounter a great many objects, pick them up, feel and see that they are distinct, etc before we can simply look across a room and tell what is distinct and what is a mural on the far wall.

As a separate consideration, doesn't "automatic" imply "uniform?" There are aspects and there as aspects, but an action or event that is "automatic" is independent of outside factors in the relevant respect, is not conditioned on them. They are not variables in determining its properties. That means, logically, uniformity--in the relevant respect.

"Automatic" simply means independent of conscious choices made by the doer. It doesn't mean independent of anything related to the doer. Once we are old enough, walking is automatic both to me and to someone who walks with a limp, but that doesn't mean that our ways of walking can't be distinct. Automatic simply means that neither of us have to think about it consciously.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How did what is now automatic come to be automatized? Learning.

Lots of organismic processes are auomatic without having developed through learning. More pertinently, the fact that many cognitive processes are automatized by learning does not prove that all are.

-- Mindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems common sense to me to claim that we learn how to perceive. If I look at, say, a pile of building blocks in the middle of a room, my eyes are automatically able to separate the blocks as independent objects from the background of the far wall. However, a newborn infant would not be able to do this. Such a child would at first only see a wash of color, not a room with depth and distinct objects. The infant would need to move around within the room, pick up the blocks, play with them, etc. Learning how to perceive is precisely what is occurring when infants do this. There are tons of subtle clues that I automatically pick up from the blocks that tell me they are distinct 3-dimensional objects within the room; the way the shadows are cast, the way some block my view of others, etc. However, when we are born, our brains don't immediately know what all these clues mean (this would be claiming inherent knowledge). We need to encounter a great many objects, pick them up, feel and see that they are distinct, etc before we can simply look across a room and tell what is distinct and what is a mural on the far wall.

Experimental psychology demonstrates three distinct stages of perception. The third depends on the preceding ones. Completely novel stimuli must go through these three stages. As adults, we are accustomed to the third stage's being automatic. Infants are starting at stage one, though. When they attain that grasp, they are in a position to go to stage two, etc.

Against the interpretation that this shows levels of learning how to perceive, rather than of learning to perceive a certain, novel thing, consider situations adults may face, in which they also go through all three stages before becoming able to perceive certain things. I gave the example, in my earlier post, of learning to perceive whether a tennis ball was struck with top-spin or back-spin (they are the ball's spinning toward its goal or backwards, towards the hitter.) While it seemed magical, long ago, to be able to see the stroke's imparting one or the other spin, it finally became effortless to perceive it.

Obviously, an adult has already learned how to perceive, yet he may find himself confused as a babe when he is faced with radically new perceptual tasks.

-- Mindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...