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Perception and Action

The aim of this research project is to argue that the vast majority of what goes on in our mind is very similar to the simple mental processes of animals. Our complex, sophisticated, rational and linguistic abilities could be described as the icing on the cake. The right methodology for philosophy of mind is to understand those simple mental capacities that we share with animals first and then explain those uniquely human, highly intellectual mental capacities that make the human mind so remarkable. My claim is that the human mind can be better understood if we consider what I call 'action-guiding perceptual representations' to be the basic units of our mental capacities. The human mind, like the mind of non-human animals, has been selected for allowing us to perform actions successfully. And the vast majority of our actions, like the actions of non-human animals, could not be performed without perceptual guidance. The mental state that mediates between perception and action is the basic building block of the human mind. I call mental states of this kind action-guiding perceptual representations. Action-guiding perceptual representations are the immediate mental antecedents of action. And they are also genuine perceptual states. They guide, and often monitor, our ongoing bodily activities and they are also bona fide perceptual states: they provide a direct mediation between perception and action. If we accept that the basic building blocks of the mind are action-guiding perceptual representations, then most classic questions in philosophy of perception and of action will look very different. The goal of this research project is to trace the various consequences of this way of thinking about the mind in a number of branches of philosophy as well as in other disciplines.
Date:1 Jan 2011 →  31 Dec 2012
Disciplines:Biological and physiological psychology, General psychology, Other psychology and cognitive sciences, Theory and methodology of philosophy, Philosophy, Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified