A Second Look at Percepts

Followup to: A View of Perception

Disillusionment is the purpose of scientific inquiry. As subjective individuals we are plagued by (arguably) useful illusions. The severe schizophrenic is only decided to be experiencing hallucinations in that, when compared to his peers, those percepts result in less than competitive behaviors (as interpreted by local ethics and ideals). Hallucination is therefore seen to enter into the field of relativism.

Psychologists interested in elucidating perspectivism often turn to child development for answers. A child is born with an equivalent compliment of sense hardware that an adult possesses. The difference in abilities of a newborn and an average adult is therefore one of apperception, of which, an excellent example lies in the field of neurolinguistics. Child A is alone in a room with a toy. A scientist stands on the outside of a one way mirror viewing the room with child B. Child A is seem to place a toy plane under the bed and exits the room. Another scientist then enter the room, removes the toy plane from under the bed and places it in the toybox. Child B is then asked "When child A goes back into the room where will he look for the toy?" The interesting bit is that until the age of about 3+1/2 child B will invariably answer that child A will look in the toybox. The hypothesis goes that until around this age children have not yet formed a theory of other minds. Such concepts as "knowledge that I know, but that I also know that you don't know" are not yet realized. 

Even more interesting is that around the advent of sign language there was an all deaf school in Nicaragua. The method of how best to teach these children was a difficult one, and tended to focus on written composition, most of the lessons going over the students' heads. However when at play the children, over time, developed their own way of communicating using their hands to sign, which was then passed on to subsequent years of students. When the first generation (class) became adults they performed this same experiment on them, and surprisingly they gave answers in line with the under 3 group. When the later classes were tested, who were using the same language of signs that began with the now adult students, they answered correctly that Child A would check under the bed because he did not know the plane had been moved in his absence. It seemed that the early form of the sign language had only one concept of knowing (positive or negative), while the younger children had developed the language to have 12 distinct concepts of knowing. This progression of abstraction in language mirrors their progress in abstract thought. 

Extracting knowledge from pre-language children is much more prone to conjectural bias. In what ways has the evolved form of our brains prepared is for perceiving? As a species we seem to have large agreement in at least what we are able to communicate via language. How then has the form of our brain biased our perceptions? It seems likely that the subspecialties of our brain (spatial orientation in the parietal lobe, complicated stereotypic pattern recognition such as faces in the temporal lobe, etc) evolved by relatively conferring greater advantages to individuals with more of what we have now. This forms the substratum processor however all perception must come from individual experience. The evolved structures just make it more likely that when you see, for example, a human face you will recognize it quickly. In this way the OS functions as a hierarchical if/then system, itself evolving through greater and greater experience. In this way, the more we experience the real world, the more we can propose hypotheses as to why our ancestors evolved thusly. For example: why is our visual range 390 to 750 nm?

Overlapping perceptions in parallel likely evolved to minimize vulnerability and time until independence. Sensory inputs bereft of learned rules of thumb seems to be disorienting to a human child. Visual input may take the form of a changing wall of various colors. Repeated exposures to human faces activates a selected for empathy reflex to mimic the emotion perceived. Thus when the child cries it may be perceiving something negative. The fact that he/she is then consoled into complacency mirrors telling a schizophrenic individual that their percepts are hallucinations. Early child percepts are thus tied to relative hallucinations required some sort of additional info to clarify. For instance, how can a child know anything about a table until they have combined the percepts of touch with the visual (hopefully at a low velocity). From these perceived events in parallel we then begin to form rules of thumb, which then may become streamlined as legitimate worldviews. These, I would argue, only rarely deviate significantly from the consensus since they are necessarily processed within our ancestrally evolved and inherited neuronal framework.

In a strict deterministic stance, a subjective consciousness such as that as humans possess may be said to describe a one-dimensional universe from the perspective of the brain. This assumes defining your own path as a straight line and realizing that what is normally perceived of as 3- (or 4-) dimensional turns in relation to the Earth is merely a proprietary view. One may only guess if any scientific investigation departing with this view would complement the increasingly useful philosophy of relativism. 

No comments: