Colour Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception

By Evan Thompson | Go to book overview

6

VISUAL EXPERIENCE AND THE ECOLOGICAL VIEW

Perceiving is an achievement of the individual, not an experience in the theatre of consciousness. It is a keeping-in-touch with the world, an experience of things rather than a having of experiences. It involves awareness-of instead of just awareness …perception is not a mental act. Neither is it a bodily act. Perceiving is a psychosomatic act, not of mind or of body, but of a living observer.

(J.J. Gibson 1979:239-40)

In the previous two chapters I argued for a relational and ecological approach to colour and perceptual content: colours are relational properties constituted by animal-environment pairs. Although one of the terms in this relation is the perceiving-acting subject, I have so far touched only briefly, at the end of the previous chapter, on the topic of the nature of perceptual experience and its relation to colour. It is this topic that forms the subject of this final chapter.

Considering the nature of perceptual experience can rather quickly lead one into the notorious philosophical thicket known as the mind-body problem. My interest here, however, is not in defending a position on the mind-body relation, and so I do not intend to confront this problem directly. Instead, what I am interested in exploring is the very nature of perceptual experience itself and the extent to which a phenomenon of this nature is amenable to scientific investigation. The latter issue about science has figured largely in recent philosophy of mind, but, in my estimation, not in a way conducive to making any kind of deep philosophical progress. One cannot determine what limits there might or might not be to scientific

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Colour Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • 1 - The Received View 1
  • 2 - Colour Vision: Recent Theories and Results 38
  • 3 - Naturalistic Ontologies 106
  • 4 - The Comparative Argument 141
  • 5 - The Ecological View 215
  • 6 - Visual Experience and the Ecological View 251
  • Notes 304
  • References 319
  • Index 345
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