Modulation of Neuronal Output

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Wed Jul 13 00:07:34 EST 1994

In article <1994Jul12.220805.21667 at midway.uchicago.edu>,
Jacob Galley <gal2 at midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:
>Two things:
>(1) This looks to me like a physiology-centric definition of
>sensation.  Are you saying that sensation == that nervous activity
>which occurs as an immediate and direct result of stimulation of
>sensory organs?  If so, I don't think this is the same 'sensation'
>that psychologists and philosophers talk about.  Your definition of
>sensation excludes mental phenomena, since it is the message sent to
>the brain, not the interpretation of the message (which is

I beg to differ here.  Aristotle himself makes several distinctions
in sensation and perception, both within each (actual and potential)
and between them, one having the connotation of being more "active"
and "mental" (perception) than the other (sensation).  Cf. De Anima,
Bk. II Ch. 5 (417a), Transl. J.A. Smith.

"...we use the word 'perceive' in two ways, for we say that what has the
power to hear or see, 'sees' or 'hears', even though it is at the 
moment asleep, and also that what is actually seeing or hearing, 
'sees'or 'hears'.  Hence 'sense' too must have two meanings, sense
potential, and sense actual...."

>I would
>rather abandon the word altogether, abandon tacit empircist doctrine,
>and read Merleau-Ponty, who argues that attempting to introspectively
>analyze percepts into atomistic sensations is pointless (a la gestalt

This is the point, that a perception is not made up of sensation, only
begun by an active response to sensation.

Leslie Kay
lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu

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