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ITOE, Ch. 1; Sensations as components of Percepts

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AndrewSternberg
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The second, third, and fourth paragraphs of Chapter 1 in ITOE, discusses the distinction between the stage of sensations, of perception, and of conceptionalization:

Although, chronologically, man's consciousness develops in three stages: the stage of sensations, the perceptual, the conceptual--epistemologically, the base of all of man's knowledge is the perceptual stage.

And then AR says:

When we speak of "direct perception" or "direct awarness," we mean the perceptual level.  Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident.  The knowledge of sensations as components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a scientific, conceptual discovery.

Does anyone know the science behind that discovery? Ayn Rand wasn't a scientist, so how was she able to figure this out?

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I don't know the specific science behind it, but I do know it arose from psychology studies: I'll try to tell what I remember.

It pretty much originated with studies on lower-level animals and their nervous systems. My PERSONAL favorite from a "who wrote the GRANT for this?!" standpoint was a study done on Planaria (flatworms, which have about the simplest nervous system imaginable) where they "trained" them using electric shocks to stay in one side of the aquarium, then ground them up, fed them to other Planaria, and discovered that the new planaria "learned" faster.

Planaria have the simplest state: sensations. They discovered this because they respond automatically to stimulus but don't change their response based on the source. They don't respond to much in the way of stimulus, either: temperature and light and electric shocks.

Next level up you get things like rats: they can definitely recognize perceptual entities. I remember helping my mother train rats to push a lever to get water. They then changed the conditions, so that when the rat pushed the one lever it got a shock, but when it pushed a different lever it got water and graphed how quickly they learned this change; it would be impossible if the rats weren't capable of integrating "this lever" and "this other lever".

Conceptualization is found in some higher mammals; apes, especially. You can teach sign language to a gorilla, which means that on some level they must be able to perform the necessary measurement-ommision. However, I was TOLD (I'm not sure how accurate this is) that the gorillas won't invent NEW signs. They'll cheerful USE the signs, and even teach them to other gorillas.

We can sort of extrapolate that human babies go through this process because their nervous system takes a while to develop and goes through the various stages above; but I DON'T think the pure sensation stage lasts very long after they're born: just until they can learn how to focus their eyes. While they're still in the womb this is pretty much the only stage they can reach; all sensations are discrete and from an unidentifiable source.

The purely perceptual stage lasts until they start to learn how to talk.

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Conceptualization is found in some higher mammals; apes, especially.  You can teach sign language to a gorilla, which means that on some level they must be able to perform the necessary measurement-ommision.

Jennifer, forgive me for going a bit off-topic, but I have a question. Is learning sign language really evidence of conceptualization on the part of an ape? Or is it mere association of signs with subsequent actions? For instance, the ape learns that making the sign for "give" followed by "me" followed by "eat" results in a tasy treat.

But what is the evidence that the ape grasps that the words represented by the signs are concepts?

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Jennifer, forgive me for going a bit off-topic, but I have a question. Is learning sign language really evidence of conceptualization on the part of an ape?  Or is it mere association of signs with subsequent actions? For instance, the ape learns that making the sign for "give" followed by "me" followed by "eat" results in a tasy treat.

But what is the evidence that the ape grasps that the words represented by the signs are concepts?

I'm with AisA on this one. This definitely deserves some discussion, but since it is off topic, I suggest that we either start a new thread to discuss this or delay the discussion of this issue until we begin examining Chapter 2: Concept-Formation.

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I'm with AisA on this one. This definitely deserves some discussion, but since it is off topic, I suggest that we either start a new thread to discuss this or delay the discussion of this issue until we begin examining Chapter 2: Concept-Formation.

Actually, I will be starting a new topic for chapter one for this. I had originally isolated a few more questions to discuss for Ch. 1, but refrained from creating the threads so as not to get overwhelmed. I will however create a new thread for a topic discussing this later tonight or tommorow night.

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