Kevin Lande (University of California, Los Angeles), "The Spatial Commitments of Perceptual Structure"

January 26, 2018 @ 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm America/Toronto Timezone

Abstract: Psychologists maintain that our perceptual states are complex. My state of seeing the tabletop as brown and rectangular is a combination of my state of seeing the tabletop’s brownness and my state of seeing its rectangularity, and my state of seeing a row of trees as a cohesive group is a combination of my states of seeing each individual tree. Focusing on vision, I will argue two things. First, there are structural constraints on how perceptual states can and cannot combine. Second, as a result of these constraints, the very way that a perceptual state is structured commits it to being about specific spatial arrangements. I will suggest that understanding the substantive commitments of perceptual structure is an important step in clarifying how perception differs from thought. There is a long tradition of holding that thoughts are structured like formulas of classical logic, and some have even argued that this is the case of perceptual states. However, the structures of perceptual states imply spatial commitments that formulas of classical logic do not have. Those commitments reflect the function of perception, which is to tell us about important features of our immediate physical environment.