Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Mystery of Visual Perception

From Philos-Sophia Initiative:
Lord Kelvin made a crucially important point when he declared physics to be “the science of measurement”: it is this basis in measurement that proves definitive not only of physics and the physical sciences at large, but of the resultant Weltanschauung. Obviously measurement quantifies: reduces things in principle to “centimeters, grams, and seconds” according to the cgs system. The fact, however, is not that all is thus reducible, but that whatsoever happens not to be is “filtered out” by the modus operandi of the scientific process and eventually demoted to the status of a res cogitans, a mere “thing of the mind.” And it is this scientistic denial of the non-measurable that in a way defines our culture and moreover engenders that “chronic schizophrenia” to which I have often enough referred. 
It can hardly be doubted that the physical sciences have proved successful beyond the wildest dreams of the founders themselves: even Francis Bacon, I surmise, would be amazed to see what his celebrated “machine for the mind” has been able to accomplish! What as a rule we fail to grasp is what a physics-based science does not accomplish, what in fact its very modus operandi excludes. A physics-based science, first of all, cannot disabuse us of the belief that the world reduces to quantities: to the things brought into play, namely, by that Baconian “machine.” What is lost in the bargain are primarily the sensible qualities: the five kinds, that is, which render the corporeal world perceptible. These sensibly apprehensible constituents are now said to be “subjective,” not because some experimentum crucis has shown them to be, but simply because a science based upon measurement does not register such a thing as red or green. It thus came about that color per se has been officially declared to be a wavelength, notwithstanding the self-evident fact that what we actually perceive is not a wavelength at all, but red or green. (Read more.)

No comments: