Perceptual Structure

Ian Goddard igoddard at
Mon Sep 18 20:00:54 EST 2000

On Mon, 18 Sep 2000, "L.A. Loren" <lloren at> wrote:

>While the study of phantom limbs and unilateral neglect are interesting,
>they do not directly support the conclusion that we use an explicit
>bodily representation. There are a growing number of researchers who
>believe that we do not, in fact, make use of such internal
>representations. Merleau-Ponty, in the "Structure of Behavior" and "The
>Phenomenology of Perception" argues that we do not use such
>representation and is based on several case studies. There was an
>article in Science some years back (97 or 98?) by Rizolatti (sp?) et. al
>in which it was argued that we store spatial information in a
>body-centric visual/spatial (a combination of both) terms and not as a
>kind of explicit 3D Cartesian coordinate system. There are also a number
>of researchers that study  unilateral neglect who argue that we do not
>have an explicit internal representation of the body (I do not have the
>references handy, but can dig them up if you'd like).   

  IAN: If you could, that would be great! Thanks for the 
  pointers! If I feel the grass touching my feet after the 
  signals from that contact reach my brain, and I see my 
  feet after photons reflecting off them have reached and 
  been processed by my brain, how can I see my feet that 
  are outside my brain? I can only see the end product 
  of information from my feet reaching my eyes and brain. 
  How can I perceive an external thing before signals and 
  data from it have reached and been processed my brain? 
  How can I directly perceive anything outside my brain?

  It seems to me that an alternative model to the internal
  perceptual model cannot even be hypothesized in a way 
  that is compatible with known physical limitations.
  Physical reality dictates that the location in space 
  and time of an external event is different than the 
  space-time location of the perception of that event,
  so the perceived event is the same as the actual event.

>Once again, phantom limbs, unilateral neglect, and other pathological
>cases are all interesting, but they do not directly support the claim
>that we make use of an explicit internal representation of the body
>during the course of our day to day activities (i.e. when we are "living
>through" our bodies rather than thinking about them). While this has
>been the most common view, it is still contested.
Asking the "wrong questions," challenging the Official Story


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