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A theory of sentience by Austen Clark

By Austen Clark

Austen Clark bargains a basic account of the kinds of psychological illustration that we name "sensory." Drawing at the findings of present neuroscience, Clark defends the speculation that many of the modalities of sensation percentage a general shape that he calls "feature-placing." Sensing proceeds by means of opting for place-times in or round the physique of the sentient organism, and characterizing traits (features) that seem at these place-times. The speculation casts gentle on many different problematical phenomena, together with the kinds of phantasm, the matter of projection, the suggestion of a visible box, and the life of sense-data.

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Extra resources for A theory of sentience

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Many of these errors appear to be real illusions, so convincing that subjects demand to see the display again to convince themselves that the errors were indeed mistakes. (Treisman 1986: 100) One or another feature is literally misplaced: green and ‘O’ are seen as characterizing the same place, when in fact no place in the array is both. The error is something other than misperceiving the character of any feature in the scene (see Prinzmetal 1995); the features present in the scene may all be correctly perceived.

Spatial perception is an intriguing and mysterious subject. The mystery is that it is possible at all. Your auditory sensations are utterly dependent on events within your cochlear nucleus, inside your inner ear. But what you hear seems to happen out there in space. How is this possible? How can you auditorily locate sounds outside your skin, given that all your auditory experience is dependent upon events inside your cochlear nucleus? I think we are here asking for a psychological model, and indeed there are various accounts of the cues used by the nervous system to manage this remarkable feat.

It is a ‘dilemma’ in the sense that both answers seem unacceptable. Requiring such convergence would require lots of neurons whose only job would be to register combinations of activity among other neurons. But without such convergence it is difficult to see how some joint effects could be produced. Ernst Weber did some of the first experiments testing such ‘two point’ thresholds in 1834 (Boring 1942: 476). A person is lightly touched with the points of a compass which is either fully closed or opened to varying degrees.

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