Epistemology

Download e-book for kindle: A theory of sentience by Austen Clark

By Austen Clark

ISBN-10: 0198238517

ISBN-13: 9780198238515

Austen Clark deals a common account of the varieties of psychological illustration that we name "sensory." Drawing at the findings of present neuroscience, Clark defends the speculation that a few of the modalities of sensation proportion a commonly used shape that he calls "feature-placing." Sensing proceeds by way of settling on place-times in or round the physique of the sentient organism, and characterizing traits (features) that seem at these place-times. The speculation casts mild on many different challenging phenomena, together with the forms of phantasm, the matter of projection, the thought of a visible box, and the life of sense-data.

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The problem is understanding how a pattern could have effects sufficient to allow localization if there is no convergence. The reductio ad absurdum lurking in the background of the convergence dilemma is the dreaded ‘grandmother cell’. If we must 28 A THEORY OF SENTIENCE QUALITIES AND THEIR PLACES demand is more daunting than it may appear. Colours and shapes are registered by different portions of visual neuroanatomy; they are found in different ‘feature maps’, to use a term that will become prominent in what follows.

Out in the woods one might hear two apparently identical bird cheeps, one off to the left and one overhead. Perhaps they sound exactly the same, and the only thing that appears to differentiate the cheeps is their location. If this is possible, then the difference in apparent location does not preclude the possibility that the cheeps themselves sound identical. It follows in turn that whatever properties of sensation account for differences in apparent location, those properties of sensation are not among those counted when we consider the question of whether those two sensations are qualitatively identical.

The moon is seen (both at the zenith and the horizon) as a body of a particular size at a particular distance, even though those differing combinations yield the same visual solid angle. The solitary character of the late-night siren is also revealing. Even though there are no other auditory points of reference, and auditory space is otherwise empty, the siren nevertheless appears to have a particular, perhaps vaguely identifiable, location. A sound with the same qualities could occur at a different place, and in this sense, apparent location is not given by the addition of other qualities to the ones already present.

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A theory of sentience by Austen Clark


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