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Action in Perception, Alva Noe


(*take any of these and use for the day as a creative inspiration)

  • Effects of Movement on sensory stimulation

  • Bodily Skills: movement to perceive (ie: squinting)

  • Perception: Skillful activity on the part of the animal

  • Photographic model of perception, we think the world is a snapshot, taken in by our eyes.

  • Action is output of the mind image to the world.

  • Thought is the mediating process.

  • I doubt the last three can be separated, so the concept is flawed.

  • In normal perceivers, the eyes engage in saccades (sharp, ballistic movements).

  • Images fade from “view” (perception) if the eyes cease to move.

  • Hypothesis: “some minimal amount of eye and body movement is necessary for perceptual sensation.”

  • Sixth Sense: The sense of movement and position known as proprioception and kinaesthesis. (There are 8 “internal” senses and 5 external senses.)

  • "Nothingness" is an internal sense.

  • To understand an object you are touching you must do more than collect sensations, you must organize and structure those sensations. (Creates useful patterns.)

  • If while sitting in a car you see a train pass in front of you, you may have felt your body “drift”. This shows that the common model of perception as a “picture” taken of your surroundings and projected onto your mind is a misconception.

  • “Our consciousness frequently does not extend to what is going on in our bodies.”

  • When you track a moving object with your eye the object appears stable. The background also appears stable, but would effectively be racing madly across the eye.

  • Kepler introduced the idea that seeing depends on the existence of pictures in the eye.

  • Vision is “attention-dependent.” You only see what you attend to. (See Gorilla experiment with “inattentional blindness”.)

  • Surprise requires explanation. We have expectations that are set and so upset equaling a feeling of surprise. But what is surprising is that we don’t question the experiences that lack “surprise”, the ones that are so everyday that we don’t questions them...they appear to be complete pictures. So, “If we were committed to the snapshot (whole picture) conception, wouldn’t we be surprised by the need to redirect our attention continuously to the environment to inform ourselves about what is there?” (ie: squinting, leaning to get a better view, pulling back or zooming in to more clearly understand..)

  • If you walk in a room and it’s covered with wallpaper of Marilyn Monroe you don’t need to look at every Marilyn head to believe they are all assume they are complete. How is it that “we can enjoy perceptual experience of unattended features of a scene?”...this is called perceptual presence.

  • Kanizsa’s Triangles: “They are perceptually present without being actually perceived.”

  • “Wittgenstein once believed that this sort of difference showed that physical language - used to describe the world of physical things - and phenomenological language - used to describe experience - are incommensurable.”

  • “We too readily describe the world we see, rather than the world as seen.” This deficit may help explain many of our misunderstandings. Furthermore, this gap is also fertile ground for visual representations (texts) that can extend the range of forms communication can assume.

  • “Vision is active; it is an active exploration of the world.”

  • “In fact, seeing is much more like touching than it is like depicting.”

  • What you don’t see is much greater than that you do see.

  • If a bug chews a tomato his whole is just a part of what we see. Is our reality just a part of some other beings whole? Can we extend our awareness to include a wholer whole?

  • “...perceiving is a way of finding out how things are from how they look or sound or, more generally appear.”

  • Finding out about appearances, we come into contact, and find out about the world.

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