The Arts and Critical Thinking in American Education

By Ivan Olson; Ralph A. Smith | Go to book overview

2
Perceptual Style

It might be of value at this point to give some attention to the dichotomous quality of "perception." In some literature the term might be used to denote a generalization or some kind of intellectual or logical insight or some special sensory awareness -- for example, awareness of a pleasant effect resulting from the interplay of light and soft shadows produced by a setting sun on a tropical island. Or, it might refer specifically and technically to perception as a process of our neurophysiology, our sensing mechanisms such as visual processing in which the signals are running from the retina to the visual cortex, giving the brain the information necessary for the process.

If we can accept and use this dichotomous concept of perception, we should find it to be a logical task to consider two of the five sensory modalities (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) of perceptual process, the visual and the aural, to the extent that we can form valid generalizations in order to relate them to both the physical (empirical) and metaphysical (conceptual or abstract) approaches to understanding. This might promote better understanding of principles of critical thinking, creativity, external and internal thinking processes, memory, and last, but certainly not least, two areas that I think of as special modalities: the intuitive and the kinesthetic, which in some way touch upon all the others.


FROM PERCEPTION TO COGNITION

For the time being, let us simplify the true differences between perception and cognition. Most basic, and most important, the process of perception is autonomic (involuntary). When we see or hear something, the phenomenon is, simply, there. We experience it; it happened. We have little or no option for it not to happen. However, cognition is voluntary; it deals with ideas and

-13-

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The Arts and Critical Thinking in American Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Theoretical and Philosophical Overview 1
  • 2 - Perceptual Style 13
  • 3 - Cognition and the Arts: Some Necessary Generalizations 25
  • 4 - The Image is Everything 43
  • 5 - Arts, Aesthetics, and the Umbrella of Critical Thinking 65
  • 6 - Teaching Approaches 97
  • Appendix - A Taxonomy for the Aesthetic Transaction 107
  • Selected Bibliography 131
  • Index 139
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