4.06.2006

Epistemology Pt. II

Let's start with some simple definitions. Perception deals with the senses; primarily, the 5 basic ones: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. When out and about on a spring day, I use many of my senses to experience the world around me: I see the blue skies, I hear the birds sing, and I smell the blooming flowers. From these perceptions, I have raw material that can, and often, produce belief. From my seeing the sky, I believe that it is blue. From my hearing the birds sing, I believe that birds are singing.

Furthermore, I believe that I am justified in my beliefs. That is, I believe that I have good reason to believe that the sky is blue and that the birds are singing. Audi says, "justified beliefs are of a kind it is reasonable to hold."

Audi distinguishes between the process of being justified and the state of being justified. My current experience of listening to Part's music lends to the process of being justified that music is playing. However, a state of justifiedness need not arise from this process since I may or may not develop a belief about the music being played. That is, I may hear the music in "the background" and not necessarily hold any belief about it until questioned. You may ask, "do you hear that music playing?" to which I might have to "tune into" it to confirm that it is in fact playing, although I may admit that I was aware of it before you asked.

This leads Audi into a discussion of how it is that we can have perceptions without beliefs to accompany them. In the cases where beliefs do accompany them, however, he makes it clear that our justifiedness arises immediately given a normal and clear experience. That is, I am immediately justified in believing the sky is blue once I see it as blue. This is on account of how such a clear experience comes to us as rational individuals.

Now that we understand some simple distinctions between perception, justification, and belief, we can begin discussing perception a little more to analyze the relationship between it and justification and belief.

Audi lists 4 elements of perception: 1) The perceiver, me, 2) The objects of my perception, i.e., perceptibles such as the sky and the birds, 3) The sensory experience, i.e., my visual experience of blue and my auditory experience of the songs of birds, and 4) The relationship between 1 and 2, i.e., a causal relationship exists in which 2 produces 3 in 1, or perceptibles produce experiences in me.

Now, Audi distinguishes between three modes of perception: percieving of, perceiving to be, and perceiving that.

The distinction is best illustrated in an example Audi gives. Let's say I am on a road trip by myself. I'm driving through various states and seeing various types of scenery. I'm also driving at high speeds. Let's say that I have been focusing on the road in front of me, and for a second--as not to lose control of the car--I peek to my left.

Now due to the brevity of my look, I was only able to have a short experience of what was to my left. What I saw was green (which I can probably infer was a field). This is a case of simple perception, or perceiving of. This is the simplest type of visual experience I can have. I can give you no detailed description of what I saw, nor can I develop any beliefs (at least none that are not infered) about my experience. All I saw was green.

If I were to have a longer look, I might see distinctions between the green object and things surrounding it. For example, I may see that the green object is flat, as opposed to hilly like the hill next to it. I may even come to see that it is rectangular as opossed to round like the hill next to it. This is a case of perceiving to be since I can now discern certain things about the perceptible. Notice how I discern with the help of other objects.

If I then take a good look, I can confirm that what I saw the first time was a green grassy field. The field is green and rectangular. This is a case of perceiving that, "it is seen that a particular object is so, namely, that the field is rectangular."

The distinctions are drawn out subtlely in the book because Audi doesn't include the notion of time into his example (at least not explicitly). But I hope my example shows the range of things one can say about an experience given the length of time one has to make things out about it.

Audi claims that the last two cases are different than the first in that the last two cases entail belief. That is, to perceive that there is a field and it is green is just to say that you believe that there is a field and it is green.

My next post will discuss the parallel that can be drawn between perceiving and belief, namely, perceiving that is similar in ways to believing that.

12 Comments:

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

in paragraph 1 you state that you will be starting off with some definitions and then proceed to offer none. Presumably, your defiens is "perception" but you've not made that explicit; nor have you given the definiendum. You've given a description of sorts (and not a very precise one), but you've not given any definition.

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

There seems to be no distinction here between perception and sensation. Consider the following: It is possible to have a propositional attitude about some fact in the world that one is perceiving, say that a red screen is in front of you, without having a sensation of what is being percieved. One can perceive that the screen is red without having the sensation of redness, or being appeared to redly, or red-seeing.

A device called vOICe has been developed for helping blind people to see using their ears rather than their eyes. The device "maps" visual scenes to "soundscapes" analogically. In short, the blind person correctly identifies the red screen--they perceive it--but without the usual visual sensation of having a patch of their visual field bathed with the presense of color. Note that qualia (whatever that is) is unscathed, seemingly,in this account. There is more to this, but space does not permit.

So, this is one way we may pull apart perception from sensation.

So in a typicalseeing of red, we have the following:

1. The having of a sensation
2. The feeling of having this sensation (the subjective component)
3. The perception of a fact about the external world (the objective component)

An account, of a chain from sensation to perception might look like this:

1. The exteral object, x, transmits a stimulus to the sense organ, a.
2. S creates a sensation,y, as some kind of copy of this sensory stimulus.
3. S reads the properties of the sensation, p.
4. S uses this reading as a basis for reconstructing the facts of the extrnal world p.

(This final step need not require deliberate deduction.)

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

I think there ought to be more than 4 elements listed. A robust phenomenological analysis, i think, will develop the following issues and distinctions:

1. Phenomenal experience/Propositional attitudes
2. Sensation/Perception
3. Values/Facts
4. First-person/Third person
5. Theory-theory of mind/Simulation theory of mind
6. Being there/Emptiness

(1) is a distinction between the way the experience is to me and the propositional attitudes I have regarding tyhat experience. (2) is the distinction between perceiving a thing and having a sensation of that thing.

Oops, gotta go. I'll have to return to this another time.

 
At 10:26 PM, Blogger Tands said...

To your second comment:

You say: One can perceive that the screen is red without having the sensation of redness, or being appeared to redly, or red-seeing.

I'm not sure I see this point. To identify a red screen by interpreting an audio feed doesn't seem to be perceiving red. Sure the person is having a sensation, or some sort of experience, when they are listening to the soundscapes, but I don't see how this entails perceiving red.

The blind person's behavior suggests to us that their sensations have led them to correctly identify the red screen, but this is not to say that that person identifies it on account of his perception of the red screen.

You'll have to show me how perceiving red is not exclusive to our visual sense.

You say: So in a typical seeing of red, we have the following:

1. The having of a sensation
2. The feeling of having this sensation (the subjective component)
3. The perception of a fact about the external world (the objective component)

What I see here is 1 above taking the place of what Audi calls simple perception, or perceiving of. 2 is about qualitativeness, which he hasn't talked about yet. And 3 seems awkward; we don't perceive facts (at least not in the way we're dealing with perception here). Nor does perception entail a belief about some fact.

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger Tands said...

To your third comment: Audi admits that these 4 elements are "the least" that should be mentioned. They are sufficient for purposes of the section. It may very well be that he takes up the other things you mentioned later on.

Perception is not the focus, but rather, knowledge. So he is only discussing perception insofar as it leads to justification of beliefs.

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Brain in a Hat said...

The three ways -- e.g., (1) perceiving of, (2) perceiving to be, and (3) perceiving that -- are best thought of as hierarchical levels of perception. And we have ways of talking that seem to correspond to these levels.

Keep in mind the question: What did he perceive?

Now, say you've been staring at a gorgeous brunette across the room for about an hour now.

In the first case, someone might answer: "He had a perception of a gorgeous brunette.

In the second case, the reply might come: "He perceived her to be leggy."

In the third case, the reply might be: "He perceived that she wasn't wearing a bra."

What Audi is trying to bring out is that at the level of 'perceiving of' something, it doesn't follow that you have a corresponding belief, even the belief that there was a green patch (re: the grass at 90 mph). We have perceptions of many things which we are never aware of.

But, he suggests, once you get to the level of 'perceiving to be', then you're definitely aware of that which you're having a 'perception of'. The awareness is implied, at least that's his contention, by the fact that you could identify this object or identify some of its properties. The difference I'm trying to draw is between saying "I perceived it to be a rooster" and "I perceived it to be two-legged".

At the 'perceiving that' level, then it becomes more obvious that you were aware of the object which you've formed a propositional attitude about (that is, you've taken some attitude about a that-clause statement, a statement which you yourself generate because of your visual experience). In this case, you've taken the attitude of believing it.

I won't say more, as I do not want to steal your thunder.

--Brain In A Hat

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger Tands said...

Nice, brain.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

It is still perceiving because the person gets it right everytime. You assume perception must have the same sensation, it does not. If a blind person can correctly identify the same perceptual experiences that you do, why do you assume the sensations must be the same as yours?

There is a phenomena called blindsight. Blindsight is the ability to visually perceive even though ones visual cortex is no longer functioning or even present. Blindsight has been proven in monkeys and humans. Both humans and monkeys were able to communicate what they were perceiving, e.g., a red screen or an apple, say. Each got it right in test after test. In seperate cases involving both monkeys and humans, they were able to get around in the world as a normal sighted person could; but they never once had the sensations of what they were perceiving. The human, for instance, always was able to identify the correct colors and so forth. but never once did this person feel as though they were having the sensations of the corresponding colors. In fact, it was impossible since the person's visul cortex did not even function anymore.

So, perceiving is not identical to sensing. They are correlated, but not necessarily so. It seems as though sensations can be divorced from perception entirely. I would guess that when we were primordial scum--single or a few celled little thingys--we perceived things in a very location specific way; that is, if something were to touch us, we would have a perceptual signal from the place of contact. Now, we have a single localized aea for knowing if something has contacted us by means of the senses, it's called the brain. Along with these contact signals, we now can put some content to them, namely, the sensations.

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

We do perceive facts and perception does entail beliefs about facts.

You and I are standing before a red screen. The screen is reflecting what all agree to call "red light": light with a wavelength around 760nm, similar to the light that gets reflected from a ripe red tomatao. The screen, in short, is colored red. This is an objective fact that can be confirmed by a physical measuring instrument such as a photometer. It is also an impersonal fact. It does not depend on anyone's interest or involvement with it. the fact about the screen is the same even if we both left the room. But suppose neither you nor I have left the room. I am here looking at the screen. And because I'm here looking at the screen, there is an interesting fact about me. I am doing whatever it amounts to for a person to "see red". I'm doing it, presumably, somewhere in my brain. this fact about me is also an objective fact. We have every reason to suppose it too could be confirmed by some measuring instrument. What is happening in my brain is presumably similar to what happens in the brain of any other person who sees red--like you--and its particular signature can be detected in a high resolution brain scan. This fact is a personal fact because it does depend on my being here with my eyes open looking at the red screen. It is MY seeing red. But being a personal fact is only the beginning of what makes this fact interesting. Far more important is that this fact belongs, among all the facts of the world, to a very special class: the class of objective facts that are also subjective facts. I am the subject of a visual experience of something objective. How is that not perceiving a fact? If we don't ever perceive facts, then how do we ever know any facts?

There is a phenomenal component to my seeing red and a propositional component. In the process of seeing red, I come to represent how things are. I acquire various ideas--beliefs, opinions, feelings--about what is the case. Some of these ideas concern the impersonal facts of the world out there, and others, concern the world here, that s, the very process of seeing itself. All these ideas are my propositional attitudes, and they stem from the simple act of perceiving. If we didn't generate propositional attitudes from perception, how would we ever have any sense of the justification that Audi spaks of? In my role as a perceiver here, I am an observer and critic of existing facts. Iboth perceive facts and generate beliefs from these facts.

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Brain in a Hat said...

Isn't this whole discussion about whether perception and sensation are distinct rather off-point? Can't we just ignore it and still get Audi's account of how perception can yield knowledge?

Secondly, I don't follow the point, Quandodude, you're trying to make about VOICE. How does this device work? Here are my very uninformed guesses.

Say it works by giving them some kind of sonar perception. Well, then they do have a sensation of what it feels like to see a red screen (or just a screen). Otherwise, what allows them to differentiate between objects?

If it works simply by sounds, like fancy cars when they get too close to the curb, then this isn't perception but language. They have some homunculus (in the form of a machine) telling them,"Hey, blind one, there's a screen two feet in front of you."

But whatever it is, I don't think you can attack the position that we have a sensation of what's it like attached to our visual perceptions by strutting out a blind person and saying, "Uhm, this guy doesn't have any such sensation of 'what's it like to see red' when he's caressing my red underwear."

--Brain In A Hat

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Qaundoman said...

I'll show you caressing red underwear...now stop touching me there!

Yes, it is off point if the point is just to get Steve's take on Audi; but there is more to this than just that, I presume, since there is little harm in going off on a tangent here and there.

As far as vOICe is concerned. I don't understandit intimately (like I do some pairs of red underwear).

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Brain in a Hat said...

Well, where's Part III?

 

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