Institut Jean Nicod

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Sam Clarke (York, Toronto)

“Mapping the Visual Icon”

Date à venir

Abstract : It is often claimed that pre-attentive vision has an ‘iconic’ (roughly : picture-like) format. This has been seen to explain pre-attentive vision’s characteristically high processing capacity and to make sense of an overlap in the mechanisms of early vision and mental imagery. But what does the iconicity of pre-attentive vision actually amount to ? This paper considers two prominent ways of characterising pre-attentive visual icons and argues that neither is entirely adequate : one approach renders the claim ‘pre-attentive vision is iconic’ empirically false while the other obscures its ability to do the explanatory work which motivates positing pre-attentive visual icons in the first place. With this noted, I introduce the (heretofore unarticulated) notion of an ‘Analog Map’ and argue that it offers a superior characterisation of the way in which pre-attentive visual representations are iconic. I then argue that this forces a reassessment of debates which have traditionally presupposed the iconicity of pre-attentive vision, emphasising the ramifications my conclusions have for debates over the viability of a format-based perception-thought border.



Conférences passées


Nicholas Porot (Rabat)

“Minds without Spines”

Vendredi 5 mars, 14-16h

Abstract : While mentality is clearly widespread in animals, the reach of conceptual thought remains unclear. In this paper, I argue at least one arthropod species possesses concepts, so conceptual thought’s reach is very broad. Other arguments in favor of arthropod concepts (Camp 2007, Carruthers 2009) have focused on the cognitive maps bees deploy in foraging. This cleaves such concepts from the sort of concepts humans possess : Maps lack the syntactic structure of human thought. But recent evidence from the numerical cognition of honeybees suggests they can cardinally order natural numbers (including zero) up to six (Howard et al. 2019b). Since zero cannot be represented by any straightforward form of analogue magnitude representation, or by subitizing, this supports symbolic representation of zero in honeybees. Since cardinally ordering the numerosities requires combination of representations, the non-zero numerosities must be represented by symbols, too. This result suggests bees may interface symbols with cognitive maps in foraging. It helps resolve explanatory stalemates elsewhere in comparative psychology and expands the explanatory role of concepts in our understanding of cognition.