Guide The natural and the normative: theories of spatial perception from Kant to Helmholtz

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Helmholtz then took the discovery of non-Euclidian geometries and his own demonstration of the possible non-Euclid- ian nature of space to be a refutation of Kant's supposed psychological thesis of innateness.

Helmholtz's point does undermine Kant's argument, but not with the result Helmholtz imagined. It does not damage Kant's innateness thesis, because Kant never took space to be innate. But it does undermine his reasons for taking a Euclidian form of intuition to be a necessary feature of our experience. It is with Hatfield's Kant interpretation that what few misgivings I have about his work arise. For Hatfield the Transcendental Exposition of the concept of space the argument from Euclidian geometry is made to carry the whole Kantian thesis.


Kant's Metaphysical Expositions of the concept of space a set of different argu- ments which precede the Transcendental Exposition in the Critique of Pure Rea- son are mentioned in passing but for Hatfield they really play no role. This, as I mentioned earlier, is a standard and well-received line of Kant interpretation, but it is a line of interpretation developed by commentators seeking to cast Kant's posi- tion in the best possible light, by advancing what they take to be his strongest arguments.

It is not the line of a historian seeking to represent the totality of Kant's thought, purported weaknesses included. Hatfield's reliance on the Transcendental Exposition leads him to feel secure in claiming as he does when discussing Steinbuch's objections to Kant that Kant never intended his doctrine of space to ground a particular theory of vision.

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And this certainly follows if we read Kant as the author of a single argument, the Transcendental Exposition, demonstrating only that Euclidian space must be a condition of the possibility of knowledge of objects. But Kant did not just write the Transcendental Exposition. This is a po- sition which cannot be divorced from a specific implication for the theory of vi- sion: the implication that space, along with time, is an order in which our sensa- tions are originally received by us, so that just as sensations occur one after an- other in vision, so they occur one alongside another in space.

A two-dimensional spatial array of sensations, in other words, must be originally given in intuition, not constructed from more primitive elements. Hatfield, for his part, maintains that insofar as Kant takes any position on the empirical psychology of visual perception, he inclines towards the view that the third dimension, at least, is constructed from clues given on the two-dimensional field of view and indeed that Kant "could, without inconsistency, have ac- cepted a radically empirist account of vision. Steinbuch may have more to say to Kant than Hatfield is willing to admit.


Hermann Cohen

Gary Hatfield is a master at drawing distinctions, clearly analyzing concepts, and relating the contemporary and the early modem understanding of crucial terms to one another. His analysis of the senses of naturalism, of the distinction be- tween metaphysical and methodological versions of naturalistic and normative accounts, and of the senses in which philosophers from Descartes to Wundt were nativist are some of the clearest and most valuable contributions to the history of philosophy and psychology in the early modem period I have come across. In the end, I think he may have attributed a clearer awareness of the distinction between epistemological and psychological treatments of the mind to Kant than that philosopher's work in fact exhibits.

But this is a ground-breaking, an important, and an impressively scholarly work which should have something of value to teach to anyone at all interested in topics of early modem or 19th century episte- mology or psychology. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Excellent introductory texts are written by skilled practitioners sensitive to be- ginners' needs. Robert Audi's Belief, Justification and Knowledge is a case in point.

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  6. In this introduction to epistemology "conceived as the theory of knowl- edge and justification," Audi draws upon his extensive epistemological experience to offer a clear, non-technical, yet rigorous treatment of major epistemological issues. As part of "The Wadsworth Basic Issues in Philosophy Series," the book is intended to "provide up-to-date studies of competing solutions to core problems" in an important philosophical area. It fulfills this goal admirably.

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    Related Papers. By Liesbet De Kock. Spatial Perception and Geometry in Kant and Helmholtz. By Gary Hatfield. By Matthew Kelsey. Laws, sensations and nerves. Can I borrow this item? Can I get a copy? Can I view this online? Ask a librarian. Kellogg a Instrumentation considerations in research involving eye-movement contingent stimulus control [microfor Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive.

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    Book , Online - Google Books. Gary Carl. Space perception -- History. As may be expected, some regions early visual and auditory cortices predominantly reflected the unisensory inputs and hence were only a little affected by any multisensory computation see Fig. Other regions, e.

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    Thus, in these regions, automatic integration processes seem to occur that merge the spatial evidence provided by different modalities, weighted by their reliability, but regardless of how likely it is that these relate to the same object. And finally, regions more anterior in the intraparietal sulcus encoded the spatial estimate as predicted by the causal inference model, hence adapting their sensory representation based on the likely causal origin.

    Overall, the new results show that different neural processes along the sensory pathways reflect distinct estimates about the localization of sensory events. Some estimates seem to arise mostly in a simple unisensory manner, while others exhibit the computationally complex nature required for causal inference. In addition, they suggest that sensory fusion and causal inference, at least in the context of spatial perception, are distributed processes not necessarily occurring in the same regions. The data support both the traditional notion that multisensory perception is mostly implemented by higher-level association regions and the more recent notion that early sensory regions also participate in multisensory encoding [ 21 , 22 ].

    Most importantly, however, they show how model-driven neuroimaging studies allow us to map complex sensory operations such as causal inference onto the sensory hierarchies. Rather, multisensory perception arises from the interplay of many processes and a network of interacting regions that implement these, each possibly relying on a different assumption about the causal structure of the environment and implementing a different sensory computation.

    Gary Hatfield (University of Pennsylvania): Publications (History of Psychology) - PhilPeople

    Ultimately, it may be impossible to fully understand localized multisensory processes without considering them in the big picture of a possibly hierarchical but certainly distributed organization. As with any major step forward, the results pose many new questions. It will also be important to see whether there are brain regions generically involved in multisensory inference and not specific to spatial attributes.

    Furthermore, it seems natural to look for similar gradual changes in multisensory computations along other sensory pathways. For example, our understanding of auditory pathways may benefit from such model-based decoding studies [ 24 ]. Finally, the roles of attention and task relevance for multisensory perception remain controversial. Attentional selection modulates multisensory integration, and multisensory coincidences attract attention and amplify perception [ 25 ].

    It remains unclear how attentional state or task relevance influence which sensory variables are represented in any brain region, and recent studies reveal complex patterns of mixed selectivity to task- and sensory-related variables in higher association regions [ 26 ]. Disentangling the impact of attention and task nature on multisensory encoding and what can actually be measured using neuroimaging signals remains a challenge for the future. Neuroimaging studies provide critical insights into the large-scale organization of perception, but the underlying local mechanisms of neural population coding remain to be confirmed.

    Signatures of multisensory encoding at the single neuron level can be subtle [ 27 ], and the mixed selectivity of higher-level sensory regions can render the link between neural populations and neuroimaging ambiguous [ 28 ]. Again model-driven approaches may help, for example, by providing testable hypothesis about large-scale population codes that can be extracted from electrophysiological recordings or neuroimaging [ 14 ]. On a methodological side, recent work has shown how combining fMRI with probabilistic models of cognition can be a very powerful tool for understanding brain function [ 29 , 30 ].

    In line with this, Rohe and Noppeney show that the combination of statistical models of perception and brain decoding has the power to enlighten our understanding of perception far beyond more descriptive approaches. Yet, studies such as this require carefully crafted models and efficient paradigms to overcome the poor signal-to-noise ratio sometimes offered by neuroimaging. Abstract At any given moment, our brain processes multiple inputs from its different sensory modalities vision, hearing, touch, etc.

    Introduction Our brain is continuously faced with a plethora of sensory inputs impinging on our senses.

    Works by Gary Hatfield

    Bayesian Approaches to Multisensory Perception Bayesian statistics describes sensory representations in probabilistic terms, attributing likelihoods to each possible encoding of a sensory attribute [ 11 ]. Download: PPT. Mapping Causal Inference onto Sensory Pathways In their study, participants localized audiovisual signals that varied in spatial discrepancy and visual reliability while their brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI.

    Conclusions As with any major step forward, the results pose many new questions. References 1. Cambridge: MIT Press. PLoS Biol e Curr Opin Neurobiol — Trends Cogn Sci 8: — Trends Cogn Sci — Exp Brain Res — Proc Biol Sci — Hatfield G The natural and the normative theories of spatial perception from Kant to Helmholtz. Neuroreport —