Watzl experiential guidance1


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Watzl experiential guidance1

  1. 1. + Perceptual Guidance Sebastian Watzl
  2. 2. + The Explosion Experience
  3. 3. + The Explosion Experience Suppose that you are sitting at your desk and working. Suddenly there is an explosion right outside of your window. You hear that and have a vivid perceptual experience.
  4. 4. + What does the Explosion Experience tell you?  It tells you what there is: there is a loud, high-pitched sound to your left.  the experience is informing.  It tells you what to do: “look and listen to what is happening there!”  the experience is guiding.  Some intuitive descriptions of perceptual guidance  like a command to focus your attention on that sound.  a conflict between your desire to focus on your work; you want one thing, your experience wants otherwise.  you feel a perceptual pull to focus attention on that sound.
  5. 5. + Informing and Guiding  Informing  Informational Function of perceptual experience.  The function of perception is to deliver an objective representation of features in the subject’s environment (e.g. Burge 2010).  The rational role of perceptual experience is to rationalize perceptual beliefs.  Informational Phenomenology of perceptual experience.  The phenomenology of perceptual experience is or supervenes on how the world appears to the subject of that experience (“what is (re)present(ed) to the subject”)  Guiding  Guiding Function of perceptual experience.  (Part of) the function of perception is to guide the attention of the subject to salient aspects of her surroundings.  ? (Part of) the rational role of perceptual experience is to rationalize attending to those salient aspects  Guiding Phenomenology of perceptual experience  (Part of) the phenomenology of perceptual experience is to feel your attention drawn to various aspects of your surroundings.
  6. 6. + Neglecting Perceptual Guidance
  7. 7. + Perceptual Guidance Everywhere? The focus seems to move relentlessly, shimmering and fidgeting no matter how hard we may try to concentrate on a thought, preserve an image, or otherwise freeze the instant. Not only does it seem quite impossible to hold a particular thought or percept fully in mind for an indefinite period, it also seems futile to attempt to keep consciousness away from a chosen target by fixing our minds on something else. Consciousness simply cannot hold itself still. Wegner 1997, p. 295
  8. 8. + Two Claims Guidance Some perceptual experiences are guiding 1. as part of their function; 2. as part of their phenomenology.  Could also have views on which there is guidance phenomenology, but it is not perceptual.  Could have views that accept only the functional or only the phenomenal part. Universal Guidance All perceptual experiences are guiding 1. as part of their function; 2. as part of their phenomenology.  Guidance comes in degrees. Commands can have different strengths.  Some experiences guide more, others less; but all a little bit.  Interesting when applied to fairly fine-grained experiences (experiences of colors, color- instances, shapes, single objects, presences, absences, ...) [more below]
  9. 9. + Overview  Perceptual Guidance in Context  Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Perceptual Guidance and Involuntary Attention  Perceptual Guidance and Salience  Constraints on a theory of Perceptual Guidance  Characteristics of Guidance  The Integration Challenge  How to Explain Perceptual Guidance  The Significance of Perceptual Guidance
  10. 10. + Perceptual Guidance in Context
  11. 11. + Just one among many?  In Perceptual Guidance, perceptual experience guides attention. It says:  Attend to this!  Given a number of natural models, attention guidance might be seen as one instance of a broader set of phenomena (“Imperative Aspects of Perceptual Experience”):  Do A!  I should do A!  A-ing is called for! Guiding attention and guiding other activities
  12. 12. + Just one among many?  Compare also that one might think that voluntary attention is an action in the same sense as, say, dancing, turning your head, hammering a nail in the wall, returning a tennis ball, writing a philosophy paper:  You can intend them, try to do them them, decide to do them, stop doing them, etc.  There might be restrictions on what a particular subject can, say, try to do at a particular time. But arguably these restriction are not due to the nature of trying.  Similarly, one might think that if there is perceptual attention guidance then there could be perceptual guidance for other activities. At least, one might think, there are no restrictions on what perception can guide that are due to the nature of perception. Guiding attention and guiding other activities
  13. 13. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Outside perceptual experience (in a narrow sense):  Itch experiences as commands to scratch: scratch here! (Hall 2008)  Pain experiences as commands to get rid of a bodily disturbance (Klein 2007, Martinez 2011)  Note that these are fairly naturally treated as kinds of experience or modalities. The case for the claim that either their function or their phenomenology is exhaustively informational has never been very strong (they were always “problem cases” for representationalists)
  14. 14. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Within perceptual experience (in a narrow sense):  Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus, Cussins, Kelly. “[I]nkstand, pen, ink, paper, blotting pad, table, lamp, furniture, windows, doors, room [...] never show themselves proximally as they are for themselves [...] The hammering itself uncovers the specific 'manipulability' of the hammer. The kind of Being which equipment possesses [...] we call "readiness-to-hand". When we deal with them by using them and manipulating then, this activity is not a blind one; it has its own kind of sight by which our manipulation is guided”
  15. 15. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Within perceptual experience (in a narrow sense):  Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus, Cussins, Kelly. [C]onsider a tennis swing. [...] if one is expert at the game, things are going well, and one is absorbed in the game, what one experiences is more like one's arm going up and its being drawn to the appropriate position, the racket forming the optimal angle with the court - an angle one need not even be aware of - all this so as to complete the gestalt made up of the court, one's running opponent, and the oncoming ball.
  16. 16. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Within perceptual experience (in a narrow sense):  Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Dreyfus, Cussins, Kelly. Many years ago I used to ride a motorcycle around London [...] One time I was stopped by a policeman, who asked me "Do you know how fast you were travelling?” [...] I was unable to tell the policeman my speed, yet surely I did know [...] The speed was presented to me as a certain way of wiggling through and around heavy traffic [...] as a felt rotational pressure in my right hand as it held the throttle grip [...] a felt vibration of the road and a rush of wind, a visual rush of surfaces, a sense of how the immediate environment would afford certain motions and resist others
  17. 17. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities  Detachability  All of these authors try to argue for much more than for Generalized Perceptual Guidance:  Heidegger: argue for a metaphysics with different modes of being.  Dreyfus: argue for an anti-intellectualist account of know-how and skill  Cussins: argue that experience has non-propositional, non-truth- conditional content in whose terms we can explain propositional content  Kelly: argue that shape perception depends on generalized guidance.  The Generalized Guidance Claim though arguably can be detached from these larger projects. We can consider whether it is true and how to best to develop (if true) in independence of those larger projects.
  18. 18. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities A special one?  Attention guidance might, though, also be special and unique:  Suppose one is not convinced of the Heidegger, Dreyfus, Cussins examples. One might still accept Guidance for attention.  Maybe perceptual experience is a kind of experience that allows only for perceptual attention guidance (while pain and itch experiences allow other forms of guidance).  Attention, after all, is a perceptual activity.  Maybe the best model for attention Guidance does not generalize:  maybe it isn’t in the end quite like an imperative, though shares some similarities.
  19. 19. + Guiding attention and guiding other activities Reasons to focus on attention guidance  powerful phenomenological case.  powerful functional case.  lots of empirical data that can guide philosophical theorizing.  interesting consequences.
  20. 20. + Guidance and Involuntary Attention  Perceptual Guidance is directly connected to involuntary attention (arguably constitutively)  to have a guiding experience is to “feel you attention drawn to something” (sometimes against your will) without trying or intending to attend.  Involuntary attention (and with it perceptual guidance, I claim) has been the subject of intense scientific study.
  21. 21. + Guidance and Involuntary Attention Posner Cuing Paradigm
  22. 22. + Guidance and Involuntary Attention  Some general remarks about these studies.  The cue (which attracts attention) is almost always consciously perceived (though some recent studies, e.g. Jiang et al. 2006, suggest that there are rare exceptions).  The experience of the cue temporally precedes and most likely causes focus of attention to its location.  The features that are reliable cues, and whose experience tends to guide attention are fairly hetereogenous and context dependent.  In vision: color, orientation, motion, size, luminance, onset (different for other modalities); influenced by familiarity, and prior experience  Attention cueing is not automatic (except maybe in rare cases)
  23. 23. + Guidance and Involuntary Attention  Yantis and Jonides (1990) asked whether attention capture is automatic in the following sense  “Attempts by a subject to prevent an automatic process from proceeding are not successful”  They call this “The Intentionality Criterion” for automaticity  They found that attention capture is not automatic in that sense  A voluntary cue will interfere with an involuntary cue.  Further studies* confirmed that in the overwhelming number of cases:  what captures attention is contingent on which task the subject is performing, her prior experience, her goals, rewards, interests, etc  “Contingent Capture” * Folk, Remington and Johnston 1992; Yantis 1993; Bacon and Egeth 1994; Yantis and Egeth 1999; Serences et al. 2005; Folk and Remington 2006; Chen and Mordkoff 2007; Ansorge and Horstmann 2007; Kiss et al. 2008; etc.
  24. 24. + Guidance and Involuntary Attention  Summary:  The conscious experience of cues draws subjects’ attention to various aspects of her surroundings.  That process is not directly controlled by the subject (in any sense that would make it an intentional action).  Yet, that process is also strongly context dependent and “in conversation” with the subject’s overall motivational system.
  25. 25. + Guidance and Salience  Despite the heterogeneity of features whose experience captures attention, it is natural to speak of a property they have in common when they do capture attention:  What captures attention is salient, and does so in virtue of being salient.
  26. 26. + Guidance and Salience Notions of Salience  Feature Salience. Probably best viewed as a relational property, i.e. the property shared by all those properties, objects that are salient to a certain perceiver in a certain perceptual context given a certain background and certain goals.  only what is currently perceived is feature salient.  arguably comes in degrees.  Statistical Salience. “Explosions (in general) are salient events.” Natural to understand in terms of perceptual salience: entity e is statistically salient just in case in normal conditions N entity e would be perceptually salient to a class of perceivers C to a sufficiently high degree d.  often shows up in explanation: why did they meet at the fountain? Because it was such a salient object on the otherwise empty square.
  27. 27. + Guidance and Salience Notions of Salience  Generalized Feature Salience. Generalization from perceptual salience to non-perceptual cases: options, ideas, solutions might be salient (for a subject) in a situation. When they are they capture the subject’s attention.  Phenomenal Salience. A phenomenal property of experiences (not of mind-independent objects).  An experience e of x is phenomenally salient in situation s iff x is perceptually salient in s.
  28. 28. + Guidance and Salience Proposal  The class of attention guiding experiences is the class of phenomenally salient experiences.  An experience is attention guiding in virtue of being phenomenally salient.  Will need to answer what is explanatorily prior: phenomenal salience or feature salience?  are phenomenally salient experiences attention guiding primarily because of some property of the experience or primarily because of a property a feature is experienced to have?
  29. 29. + Constraints on a theory of perceptual guidance
  30. 30. +  Guiding experience (=phenomenally salient experiences) play a a certain causal role  They cause a perceptual state with a certain focus of attention.  They do so directly: the causal chain doesn’t go through the subject’s desires, intentions, etc.  Which properties of guiding experience are relevant for that causal role?  Two options: phenomenal properties or non-phenomenal properties  Arguably, the relevant properties are the phenomenal properties, in particular: phenomenal salience.  It is part of the nature of guiding experiences that they play this causal role  what it is to be that kind of experience entails playing that causal role.  Comparable to itch experiences. Characteristics of Perceptual Guidance
  31. 31. + Causal Role Guiding experiences as part of their nature directly cause and causally sustain the focus of attention to be centered on the objects of those experiences in virtue of their phenomenal properties. Characteristics of Perceptual Guidance
  32. 32. + Sense-Making  Consider what Dreyfus (2005, p.13) says about perceptual action guidance “It seems that, either one is pushed around like a thing by meaningless physical and psychological forces, or else one’s reasons, explicit or implicit, motivate one’s actions [...] “Merleau-Ponty faces this challenge by introducing a third way one can be led to cope - a way he calls motivation. This is not a psychological concept for him but a perceptual one.”  The rough idea here, I take it, is that perceptually guided activities in some way “make-sense” from the subject’s point of view – even though they are not intentional actions, not directly controlled by her reasons.  Perceptually guided attention (when attention is captured by what is feature salient) has some features that makes it natural to also put it in such an intermediary category:  Caused and causally sustained by the instantiation of certain phenomenal properties.  Responsive to the subject’s motivational system. Characteristics of Perceptual Guidance
  33. 33. + Sense-Making Guiding experiences make (subjective) sense of the focus of attention to be centered on the objects of those experience. Note:  The intuitive datum of sense-making is not extremely clear. So, it’s not very clear what exactly a philosophical theory of perceptual guidance has to accomodate. Characteristics of Perceptual Guidance
  34. 34. +  Any account of perceptual guidance has to meet what I shall call “The Integration Challenge”  This is the challenge of integrating the guiding aspect of perceptual experience with its informing aspect:  How can perceptual experience be both like an imperative and like an assertion?  How can experience be in some way like belief and in some way like an intention? The Integration Challenge
  35. 35. + How to Explain Perceptual Guidance
  36. 36. + Models of Perceptual Guidance Building Block Models The explosion experience has two parts, an informing part and a guiding part. It is the mereological sum of these to parts.  The informing part has a mind-to-world direction of fit, the guiding part a world-to- mind direction of fit.  The explosion experience = experientially-believe <this is loud and left> + experientially-desire <attending to this>  Analogy: being please that p = believing that p + desiring that p.  Advantage  easy to fit into a standard Humean picture that maintains fundamental divisions between motivational and non-motivational states.  Disadvantages  can’t seem to explain the unity of the explosion experience.  hard to see why perceptual guidance deserves to be called “perceptual”
  37. 37. + Models of Perceptual Guidance Descriptive Content Models The explosion experience represents <the explosion is loud, to the left and feature salient>  Phenomenal salience gets explained by feature salience.  Feature salience might be a simple or relational property. It is experienced, but possibly nothing has it.  Advantage  easy to explain the unity of the explosion experience  Fits into standard representationalist accounts of perceptual experience  Disadvantages  Can’t explain why the causal role of guiding experiences is essential to them  Can’t provide any plausible account of sense-making
  38. 38. + Models of Perceptual Guidance Normative Content Models The explosion experience represents <the explosion is loud, to your left and to be attended>  Different ways of understanding “to-be-doneness” (see Susanna’s talk)  moral, prudential, primitive  To-be-doneness might be relational (“by me now”)  Advantage  easy to explain the unity of the explosion experience  Fits into (fairly) standard representationalist accounts of perceptual experience  Can explain why the causal role of guiding experiences is essential to them  Can provide a plausible account of sense-making
  39. 39. + Models of Perceptual Guidance Normative Content Models The explosion experience represents <the explosion is loud, to your left and to be attended>  Disadvantages  not clear what exactly these normative properties are.  not clear that these normative properties are naturalistically kosher.  not clear that it gets the direction of explanation right.  Compare non-cognitivism about normative judgments (when you judge that such-and-such is to be done you express a certain attitude). The attitudes here are explanatorily prior to the representation of a normative property (e.g. Gibbard 2003)  Same here: arguably it is because phenomenally salient experiences are a certain kind of state that attending is experienced as to be done, not the other way around.
  40. 40. + Models of Perceptual Guidance Imperative Content Model The explosion experience represents <the explosion is loud and to the left, and attend to it!>  Advantages  Arguably all of the ones of the normative content model.  No need for normative properties.  Need an account of imperative contents that fits with perceptual imperatives.  salience also causally sustains the focus of attention.  the subject’s preferences arguably do not shift even when she is attending to what is salient (“I still prefer attending to my work to attending to that #$? explosion!”
  41. 41. + Models of Perceptual Guidance One way to develop the imperative content model  Think of imperative contents as dynamic contents  not a set of accuracy conditions, but a rule for updating your mental state.  The update rule take you from an experience with the current focus of attention to an experience with a different focus of attention  The account is compatible with understanding the focus of attention in a number of different ways. For present purposes think of attention as prioritization: it orders or ranks the various parts of a subject’s experience Higher attentional priority
  42. 42. + Models of Perceptual Guidance One way to develop the imperative content model Explosion Experience Attending to the Explosion
  43. 43. + Models of Perceptual Guidance One way to develop the imperative content model  An alternative: the rule prescribes a change in the preference ranking (see Starr forthcoming) so that attending to the explosion is now preferred.  Seems implausible to me in light of the above.  Shouldn’t try to force a theory of involuntary attention (arguably a fairly simple system) into a mold devised for more complex phenomena (we should, though, keep their similarities in sight.
  44. 44. + Models of Perceptual Guidance One way to develop the imperative content model  Can include both re-ordering of the attention state (when what becomes salient is already perceived) or introduction of a new element (which was not perceived before).  Must develop an account of explaining the force of the imperative  If that can be done, then we might get universal guidance.
  45. 45. + The Significance of Perceptual Guidance
  46. 46. +  A quick way of re-prioritizing that side-steps the complex evaluation that comes with central processing.  Sensitivity to the agents motivational system let’s the agent integrate sensitivity to the current situation with her overall goals and concerns.  Without it the informing function of perception would be compromised:  information overflow if everything (whether attended or not) would be used for further processing.  sever limits to learning if further processing were limited to what is voluntary attended. Why is perceptual experience guiding?
  47. 47. + The End