Perception and the Physical World: Psychological and Philosophical Issues in Perception

Perception and the Physical World: Psychological and Philosophical Issues in Perception

Perception and the Physical World: Psychological and Philosophical Issues in Perception

Perception and the Physical World: Psychological and Philosophical Issues in Perception


The focus of this book is on conceptual and philosophical issues of perception including the classic notion of unconscious inferences in perception. The book consists of contributions from a group of internationally renowned researchers who spent a year together as distinguised fellows at the German Centre for Advanced Study.

Each chapter concludes with a lively, informative debate in the form of comments and replies from the contributors of the book.

? Contributors are of prominent international reputation
? Each chapter concludes with comments and replies from the contributors of the book to give informative debate
? The only book available to blend perception and philosophy in this fashion


Among the disciplines of cognitive science hardly any other field is as rewarding and instructive for students' apprenticeship to cognitive science as perception theory. Perception is at the interface of the mental and the physical. Inquiries into its nature have, since the beginnings of rational inquiry, played a prominent role in our attempts to gain a theoretical understanding of the world within the framework of the natural sciences. In fact, such inquiries mark the historical origin of fields as diverse as physics, psychology, and epistemology. In the context of today's cognitive sciences they provide a microcosmos of multidisciplinary research in which perceptual and developmental psychologists, philosophers, neurophysiologists, and researchers from the field of artificial intelligence investigate a single realm of phenomena. Perception theory, as the oldest and most mature field of scientific psychology, naturally became a field of paradigmatic interest for investigations into fundamental aspects of the cognitive sciences; its importance for all the cognitive sciences is also derived from the reasonable conjecture that in evolutionary history perceptual representations provided the structural germ for the development of “higher” cognitive processes.

The present volume emerged from a research project at the Zentrum fur interdisziplinare Forschung (ZiF) of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) in which scholars from various disciplines attempted to identify, among the huge masses of current experimental and theoretical research, a few threads running through the intellectual history of the field that they considered to be of particular importance for our attempts to theoretically understand “how the mind works”. As we are still far from a deeper theoretical understanding of the principles of the mind and often have not even agreed on what conceptual framework and what level of analysis to use for phrasing our questions, it is a well-known observation that individual assessments of what constitutes the important issues differ greatly. The present volume is no exception in this regard. Still there are a few common threads discernable that point to foundational and unresolved issues of continuing interest. These issues concern the general nature of the relation between the external world (i.e. the world as described by physics) on the one hand, and the world as it appears to us on the other, and how to describe “what's within” and “what's outside”. Their urgency and significance derive from the observation of a huge discrepancy between the information that the . . .

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