Chapter

Two visual systems and the feeling of presence

Mohan Matthen

in Perception, Action, and Consciousness

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199551118
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191594960 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551118.003.0007
Two visual systems and the feeling of presence

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Vision subserves two kinds of function. First, it classifies objects for creating and updating the databases that help an organism keep track of the state of the world (descriptive vision). Second, it contributes to the guidance of the organism's body as it interacts with its surroundings (motion-guiding vision). Motion-guiding vision generally operates by directly controlling the limbs in the execution of bodily action, whether voluntary or involuntary. The data that it deploys are agent-centred and relative to an organism's momentary position. Consequently, these data are not in a form that can be reused on later occasions. In other words, motion-guiding data do not constitute appropriate entries into a database concerning the state of the world. Thus, the specific content is cloaked from consciousness, which is mostly concerned with data that can be recalled and reused. This chapter argues that motion-guiding vision does, nonetheless, contribute to awareness of our surroundings. Specifically, it does so by putting an organism into a position of being able to make contact with objects in its surroundings. Such action-enabling connections with environmental objects constitute an indexical or demonstrative form of conscious content, which is different from the descriptive content provided by descriptive vision. It provides an organism with the feeling that the objects in its environment are present to it. In this respect, it is different from the kind of consciousness that is involved in pictorial vision, mental imagery, dreams, and episodic memory.

Keywords: descriptive vision; motion-guiding vision; consciousness; visual experience; pictorial vision; dreams

Chapter.  12169 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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