Toward a New Behaviorism: The Case against Perceptual Reductionism

Toward a New Behaviorism: The Case against Perceptual Reductionism

Toward a New Behaviorism: The Case against Perceptual Reductionism

Toward a New Behaviorism: The Case against Perceptual Reductionism

Synopsis

This volume examines the scientific basis of reductionist approaches to understanding visual perception. The author makes the provocative argument that contemporary neuroscience and cognitive science have gone off on a wild-goose chase in the search for reductionist explanations of perceptual phenomena. This book considers some specific and general examples of this misdirection and suggests an alternative future course for science. It reviews the successes and failures of the sciences' efforts to explain perceptual and other mental functions in the terms of either internal cognitive mechanisms, formal models, or the neural structures from which the brain--the organ of the mind--is constructed.

Although this is an iconoclastic and minority view, the book shows how many contemporary perceptual scientists have qualified their thinking with regard to what their data and theories mean even while generally accepting the empirical findings. It is, without question, an attempted refutation of some of the primary assumptions of contemporary theory. Summing up the author's convictions concerning some of the most important questions of human nature, this book is a statement of a point of view that has provided a framework for his personal answers to some of these important questions of human history.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to examine the scientific basis of reductionist approaches to understanding visual perception. It is my belief that, for a variety of reasons, contemporary perceptual and cognitive science has gone off onto what can only be described as a wild-goose chase. in this book I consider some specific and general examples of this misdirection and suggest an alternative future course for our science.

For most of the last forty years I have been a student of human visual perception. I was drawn out of a graduate program in physics to the excitement of what was then called physiological psychology by the teaching of ProfessorDonald R. Meyer of Ohio State University. My interests were focused on the more specific area of vision by the late ProfessorPhilburn Ratoosh . For most of my career I have taught, experimented, theorized, and written about visual sensation and perception. My technique of the moment might have been psychophysical or neurophysiological experimentation, computational modeling, or even synoptic review. in each case, my goal has always been to answer for myself one of the most persistent questions of science: How do we see? Even a brief excursion into somatosensory research was aimed at determining some general principles of sensory and perceptual research in the hope that my vision of vision could be sharpened.

My early enchantment with sensory psychophysiology (or as the field later came to be called, sensory neuroscience) was based on the possibility of explaining perceptual processes by reference to the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms. From my first days as a physiological psychologist, it seemed to me that we were on the threshold of a solution to not only the visual problem, but also the age-old question of how the nervous system . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.