psyb51- Perception and Cognition

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Published on 3 Oct 2011
Early Philosophy of Perception
-Plato: compares ordinary senses of reality to prisoners in cave can only ever
see the shadows on the wall in front of them this is their complete reality
oEmphasizes how critically our conception of reality depends on what we
learn about the world through our senses
- PercepN + sense of reality are products o evolution
oSenses evolved to help us act to encourage survivalto match the sort of
energy in the env’t that are most imp. For survival
oEX) human vision restricted to light in narrow band of electromag. Energy
closely related to the energy that reaches surface of earth from the sun
-Heraclitus: known for “you can never step into the same river twice”
oStressed that everything is always changing no two experiences can
ever be identical b/c experiencing the 1st event changes the way we
experience the same event the 2nd time
oPerception does not depend only on energy+ events that change depend
on the qualities of the perceiver
oExperience w/ world plays huge role in the way perception works
Begins early in life, sounds that fetus hears shape later listening
Structure of env’t: cultural diff, (speech,music) molds the way
perception works
- Perceptual systems are acutely sensitive to change.
oTend to be unaware of things in env’t that don’t change but rather focus on
things that draw out attention-> ambulance sirens
oPercepN also ignores anything that stays same for a long time
Adaptation: reduction in response caused by continuing
AdaptN + perceptual processes render things that are
steady/predictable in env’t much less salient than things changing
-Democritus: almost complete trust in senses
oTrust arose from radical idea that world is made up of atoms that collide
w. one another
oBlvd that sensation caused by atoms leaving objects and making contact
w/ sense organs
Senses should be trusted b/c perception = physical interacN b/w
world + our bodies
most reliable senses detect the weight + texture of objects b/c in
direct contact w/ things when we make judgments of weight+
texture ; all other qualities = secondary
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Criticism: usually light reflected from an object that allows us to
see no atomic films peeling off of visible objects
Primary qualites: directly perceived (weight/texture); 2ndary:
interacN b/w atoms required
-Sensory Transducer: receptor that converts physical energy from the env’t
into neural activity
ochanges energy from one form to another
Nativism and Emiricism
-idea that mind produces ideas that are not derived from external sources,
and that we have abilities that are innate and not learned
-Rene Descartes: argued that only humans have mind
oSimilarities b/w humans and animals restricted to only body structures and
oDualist View of Mind: idea that both mind and body exist
Mind sep. from body, mind unextended and has no substance,
survives death of body
(like plato) All true ideas come from mind; did not trust his senses
Cogito ergo sum: “I think, therefore I am”
Thinking mind (and not experiences) defines and proves
- Alternative to Dualism is Monism: mind + matter formed from single ultimate
subs. Of being
oMonists embrace concept of Materialism: physical matter = only reality
and everything including mind can be explained in terms of matter
and physical phenomena
o Mentalism: mind – true reality and objects exist only as aspects of
mind’s awareness
oMind-body Dualism: existence of two distinct principles of being in
the universe: spirit/soul and matter/body
Problem: how does that mind, having no subs. And occupying no
space have any effect on physical body? (this problem continues to
-idea that experience from the senses is the only source of knowledge
-Thomas Hobbes: provided a mechanical model of humans and of society
oAll knowledge must arise from the senses; rejected naivists ideas of Plato+
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