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Theories of Perceptual Experience

Theories of Perceptual Experience

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Perceptual theory attempts to answer the questions of how we see our world through the senses as well as the acquisition of knowledge about reality through perceptual experience. An overview of several theories of perception will be outlined in the body of this paper, and I will conclude by covering some of the accounts to which I am most sympathetic. In this paper, I will provide an overview of the theories of Sense Data, Husserl’s Phenomenology, Gestalt, Computational, and Gibson’s Ecological Optics. These theories can be shown to connect to each other through the ideas of information (optical and signal), phenomenological description, and formal ontology.
Perceptual theory attempts to answer the questions of how we see our world through the senses as well as the acquisition of knowledge about reality through perceptual experience. An overview of several theories of perception will be outlined in the body of this paper, and I will conclude by covering some of the accounts to which I am most sympathetic. In this paper, I will provide an overview of the theories of Sense Data, Husserl’s Phenomenology, Gestalt, Computational, and Gibson’s Ecological Optics. These theories can be shown to connect to each other through the ideas of information (optical and signal), phenomenological description, and formal ontology.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Parker Matthew Davis Emmerson on Aug 05, 2011
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 1Parker Emmerson
Theories of Perceptual Philosophy and their Correlations1.
 
Perceptual Theory
Perceptual theory attempts to answer the questions of how we see our worldthrough the senses as well as the acquisition of knowledge about reality throughperceptual experience. An overview of several theories of perception will beoutlined in the body of this paper, and I will conclude by covering some of theaccounts to which I am most sympathetic. In this paper, I will provide an overviewof the theories of Sense Data, Husserls Phenomenology, Gestalt, Computational, andGibsons Ecological Optics. These theories can be shown to connect to each otherthrough the ideas of information (optical and signal), phenomenological description,and formal ontology.From Descartes, the modern philosophical project separates subject andobject, and thus raises the question: how do we come to relate our perception of objects in the world to the objects? The essence of perceptual phenomena isdescribable through intuition of geometric insight and geometry; and so, the subject comes to knowledge of the perceptual world as a reality that inspires the subject toinquire. In the method of phenomenological geometry (a geometry that describesthe experience), we see a technique for studying perception that can account forillusions of various sorts, while also being related to ecological optics through the
 
 2notion of a surface layout (contour). In the conclusion of this paper, and referencesthroughout, I will draw parallel ideas from the text to my work.
2
. Sense Data
 According to Sense-data theory, our perceptions are based on sense-data,which are mind dependent objects of which we are directly aware. This generalaccount of sense data gained prominence in the work of William James
1
toward theend of the nineteenth century. James sought to describe the mind as purposive andselective, steering away from associationism, which supposes that mental processeswork through association of one mental state after another. A modern dayinterpretation of the idea of sense data proposes an argument that says that,because it is theoretically impossible to tell the difference between perception of anactual object and an hallucination of the object with the exact same sense data, thereis no way of acquiring direct access to the world outside of us. Sense data is arepresentational account of perception in which the sense datum represents anobject in the world outside of the mind. The account proposed of sense data in thissection will try to show how the ideas of William James about Sense-data theory,distinct from the argument from illusion, carried over into the discourse of modernneuroscience in perceptual philosophy.
1
William James (January 11, 1842  August 26, 1910) was a psychologist andphilosopher who had training as a medical doctor interested inSwedenborgian theology."William James - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."
Wikipedia, the freeencyclopedia
. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James>.
 
 3The issue that many perceptual philosophers see to be immediately pertinent to their account of perceptual philosophy and that begins their analyses from is theproblem of perception of space or the quality of the perceptual space. In Jamessinitial theory on the issue of sense-data, he attempted to understand and clarify therelationship of his experiences with the kind of space that the senses delivered tohim. Specifically, William James notes that, if 
all 
connections among ideas in themind could be interpreted as so many combinations of sense-data wrought intofixity in this way (
The order of experience
 (in the matter of time and space-conjunctions of things) standing for something real and definite) from without, thenexperience in the common and legitimate sense of the word would be the solefashioner of the mind.
2
(
The Principles of Psychology 
, Vol. 2, 620). For James, spaceexisted without order, and order did not necessitate space. The many differentiatedsense-spaces, coming from the sense organs, deliver sensations, and thesesensations must, be
measured and subdivided 
by consciousness, and
added 
together,before they can form by their synthesis what we know as the real Space of theobjective world (
The Principles of Psychology 
, Vol. 2, 145). In essence, we associatewhat we see with what we can touch, and what we can touch with that whichresonates with sound or mathematical understanding (sense in the logicalmeaning). Locke
3
would probably agree with James, because he first noted that 
2
James, William.
Principles of Psychology, Vol. 2
. New York: Dover Publications,1950. Print. Page 620. All future references to this source will be madeparenthetically in the text.
3
John Locke (August 1632  28 October 1704) was an English philosopher andphysician one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers."John Locke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
.N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke>.

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