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Philosophy of Mind: Part 11, Perception-Intentionality and Evolution

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents part eleven in the twenty-four part Great Courses series. In this video and lecture, we will look at two very different approaches to perception, the Intentional and the Evolutionary. Both offer alternatives to the Empiricist picture, which says what we see are not objects but sense-data, our contact with objects is indirect, and we infer existence of objects. One objection to this theory is that the notion of inference seems too conscious, deliberate, and rational. This is where the Intentionalist steps in. When we feel feathers, we do not feel sense-data from which we infer feathers, we feel the feathers directly. Content is not added, perception comes with content.

Video Presentation
Philosophy of Mind: Part 11, “Perception-Intentionality and Evolution”
By Frank Simons
Thu, Aug 17, 5:30pm
Meditation Center, Callejon Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted

The Intentionalist slogan is, “All perception is perception of.” A wide range of work in the brain sciences on agnosia and prosopagnosia fit this theory nicely. However, Intentionalism is incomplete. Smelling soup is qualitatively different from tasting the soup. Seeing the train approach is qualitatively different from hearing it. These perceptions are “about” the same thing but are qualitatively different.

The Evolutionary approach represents a more recent theory. What we should expect to find in perception is not a single tidy picture but an assorted bag of adaptive tricks. We will arrive with all the bits and pieces of perceptual equipment that proved evolutionarily successful. Experimental results and data from the neuroscience of perception support this approach.

In this lecture series, we have often tried to decide not whether a theory is absolutely right or wrong but what might be right about it. We must keep an open mind; more will be revealed.

The professor Patrick Grim, as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the universities Presidential and Chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


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