Institut Jean Nicod

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The Perception team, co-directed by Roberto Casati and Jérôme Dokic, organizes a number of seminars on topics at the interface between conceptual and empirical research on perception.These seminars will be the occasion either to learn about the work in progress of the team members or to meet invited speakers. The main axes of the research of the team are the nature of perception, perceptual feelings, and  the perception of/by cognitive artifacts.

Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris. Meeting room.



January 15th, 10 am-12 am
Błażej Skrzypulec, (IJN, Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Kraków)
"Thisness and Visual Objects"

According to the traditional view on visual objects, the perceptual system represents objects in the environment as bundles of features and locations. This initially plausible idea is contested within the contemporary psychology and philosophy of perception, where it is claimed that visual system can “pick out” objects merely as numerically different ‘this’ and ‘that’ in abstraction from their qualities. In the presentation, I consider whether philosophical and psychological arguments justify the rejection of the ‘bundle’ view of visual objects and show that it is needed to postulate an additional, purely individualizing element, known in the philosophical tradition as ‘thisness’, within the visual objects’ structures. I argue that while most of the arguments are not sufficient to justify the presence of ‘thisness’, the phenomenon of asymmetry of errors observed in Multiple Object Tracking experiments strongly suggests that reference to ‘thisness’ is needed to provide a proper identity criterion for visual objects.

January, 29, 4.30 pm - 6.30 pm
Event conjointly organized by Seminar Perception and Seminar "Education et cognition"
Barbara Tversky, Professor Emerita of Psychology at Stanford University, Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
"Gestures for teaching"

March, 23, 4-6 pm
John Kulvicki (Dartmouth College)
"Maps and predication"

Failing to indicate the presence of something in a map is tantamount to indicating its absence. Blue indicates water, and a lack of blue suggests a lack of water. No lines for highways on part of a map, which can otherwise indicate highways, indicates a lack of highways in that area. Michael Rescorla (2009) calls this the absence intuition, and claims it shows that maps cannot employ predication as languages do. This paper offers a new account of maps that respects the absence intuition without abandoning predication. Maps, pictures, and diagrams differ from language not in whether involve predication, but in how they organize predicates. Maps introduce predicates holistically, in groups, as degrees of freedom to which any location on a map must commit. This proposal uncovers norms for mapmaking, leads to the first new semantics for maps since Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi (1999), and offers a new perspective on how maps relate to pictures. Maps and pictures are alike not just in the way they represent space, but also in that they both introduce predicates holistically. This proposal relates in interesting ways to John Haugeland’s (1991) attempt to understand representational kinds in terms of features of their contents.


April, 29, 2:30 - 4:30 pm - Salle de réunion du DEC
Nicole A. Hall (FMSH Fernand Braudel Research Fellow, Institut Nicod)
"Aesthetic Sensibility, Intelligibility and Perceptibility"

Few would deny that we have aesthetic experiences. Rather, it is the nature of aesthetic experience that is difficult to isolate. We need not delve deep into the issue before recognizing the surprising tension that exists between aesthetics as a discipline, which makes many assumptions about the distinctly perceptual nature of aesthetic experience and the philosophy of perception, which grapples with the nature of perception and its relation with the most ordinary of external objects, if it accepts such a relation at all. The former makes too many demands on perception as well as perceptual objects and cannot account for the aesthetic experience of non-perceptual objects. The latter does not do justice to the seeming richness and diversity of aesthetic sensibility. I aim, therefore, to address two arguments that question the idea of aesthetic perception: one is an argument from non-perceptual objects, the other is an argument from perception. These will help us begin to clarify the problem of the nature of aesthetic experience and, hopefully, begin to accommodate it in all its richness and diversity.

May, 13, 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Ghislaine Labouret (Cogmaster student, Laboratoire de Psychologie de la Perception)
"Continuity versus Solidity: A Comparison of Core Knowledge Principles in Adult Vision".

Humans intuitively expect physical objects to obey core principles, including continuity (objects follow spatiotemporally continuous paths), and solidity (a solid object cannot pass through another solid object). Research in adults suggests that the degree to which these principles are embedded in visual processes may differ: continuity may be more strongly and less flexibly represented in vision than solidity.
To test this hypothesis, we asked participants to track an object’s location in continuity and solidity events, where physical principles were sometimes violated. Participants' accuracy dropped more with continuity violations than with solidity violations, possibly reflecting stronger prior expectations for the respect of continuity. This result was obtained in experiments both in lab and online, with videos of real objects and 3D animations.
Furthermore, in lab experiments, participants learned more to expect solidity violations, while continuity violations remained more surprising. Online participants reached higher accuracy much more quickly, making the differences between principles non-significant.

June, 24th, 4:30 - 6:30 pm
Martin Fortier (IJN),
“The sense of reality in hallucinogenic experiences: Bad news for disjunctivism and parasitism”

Hallucinogenic experiences (HE) are quite challenging: psychonauts who experience them report that, on the one hand, they can thoroughly distinguish their hallucinations from the ordinary world, which suggests that these experiences do not feel real; however, on the other hand, they insist that, somehow, their hallucinations feel “more real than ordinary reality”. So, all in all, what is the sense of reality (SR) in HE?
Three strategies can be deployed in order to solve this conundrum. (1) Some authors have proposed that HE can be accounted for in terms of abnormal activity in reality monitoring (e.g., Beyer, 2009). (2) The second strategy has it that HE can be characterized as involving a sense of “hyper-reality” (e.g., Shanon, 2002). I will show that these two strategies are not satisfactory for they fail do justice to the specific phenomenology of HE. (3) My contention will be that the only way to account for the SR at work in HE is to endorse a heterogeneous view of what the SR is: from this point of view, the SR is not a natural kind whatsoever, and it can consequently be ramified into several distinct processes. A taxonomy of all these processes usually lumped together under the heading of “SR” will be proposed, and it will be shown that this taxonomy can successfully solve the aforementioned conundrum.
I will finally consider what this nuanced account of the SR in HE can teach us about contemporary issues in philosophy of perception. Two theories will be examined: disjunctivism – which has been promoted, among others, by McDowell, Martin and Fish – and parasitism – which has recently been discussed mainly by commentators on Nyâya and Indo-Tibetan Buddhist epistemology (e.g., Feldman, 2005; Dasti, 2012; Vaidya, 2013). I will suggest that the heterogeneous account of the SR in HE I am putting forward is very bad news for both disjunctivism and parasitism.