Kicking the Kohler habit

Document Type: 
ASSC Conference Item
Article Type: 
Theory of Consciousness
Kohler, Linden, Enactivism, Sensorimotor, Inverting Goggles
Deposited by: 
Colin Klein
Date of Issue: 
Colin Klein, Gabriel Love
Event Dates: 
23-26 June 2006
Event Location: 
Oxford, UK
Event Title: 
10th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Event Type: 
ASSC Conference
Presentation Type: 
Number of Pages: 
Abstract: A number of recent philosophers have appealed to some rather outdated psychological experiments with inverting lenses to make their case for an ”enactive” or ”sensorimotor” or abilities-based theory of perception. Examples of such philosophical treatments include Hurley (1998), Noe (2004), and Pettit (2003, 2004). The psychological experiments they appeal to are due to Stratton (1897) and Kohler (1961, 1964). Unfortunately for these philosophical accounts of perception, significant doubt has been cast on the Stratton and Kohler results. A more recent study by Linden et al. (1999) found that four sub jects who wore inverting lenses for long enough to regain normal visuomotor functions did not report that their visual image had returned to its rightside up orientation. Rather, the visual image remained upside down but the sub jects learned to use the inverted image to perform normally on most visuomotor tasks. Focusing on Noe, we assess the damage this result does to the case for abilities-based accounts of perception, considering (a) whether the Linden et al. results undermine the positive argument for Noe’s enactive approach and (b) whether they provide a counterexample that Noe’s approach cannot accommodate.
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