What Change Blindness Teaches About Consciousness

19 Jun

21 Haziran Çarsamba günü, saat 16:00’da Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Temel Bilimler binasının TB240 numaralı odasında 20. yüzyılın önemli zihin felsefecilerinden Dretske‘nin bir konuşması / semineri olacak.

Konu başlığı: What Change Blindness Teaches About Consciousness.

Change blindness” (değişim körlüğü) olgusunun bilinç ile ilişkisine değinecek olan Dretske, bu duruma dair enteresan örnekler sunacağa ve tartışma yaratacağa benziyor.

Change blindness is often described as a failure of normally sighted subjects to perceive visible, often quite conspicuous objects. These objects are conspicuous enough to make it hard to understand how, before one?s attention is called to them, one could have
failed to see them. Once you point it out, his moustache is perfectly obvious. I can no longer not see it when I look at him. I don?t understand how could I have failed to see it before you called my attention to it.

I do not like this way of describing change blindness. It begs an important question. It assumes that failure to notice something constitutes a failure to see it–at least a failure to experience it consciously. Higher order theorists, those who think conscious perception is perception one is at some higher level cognizant of will be happy with this assumption, but this merely illustrates the unacceptability of higher-order theory. Consciously seeing something does not require noticing it. It requires no awareness of what it is you are seeing or that you are seeing it. It requires no higher order knowledge or understanding at all. Failure to recognize or notice visible differences ? the cognitive failures so dramatically demonstrated in change blindness ? tell us absolutely nothing about what one is conscious of or the nature of conscious experience. This, indeed, is exactly what change blindness demonstrates. It shows us that we are not the ultimate authority on our own conscious states.

If this is what change blindness teaches, it leaves us with a question. If you don?t have to know you are aware of something to be aware of it, what, then, makes perception conscious? Assuming there is perception without awareness, unconscious perception of a stimulus (e.g., blindsight), what is it that makes perception of a stimulus conscious?

I?ll have something to say about this in a moment. Let me first back up a bit. I want to begin by supporting the claim I made above that the cognitive failures revealed in change blindness do not exhibit, as the word ?blindness? suggests, visual deficits at all. I want to convince you that a subject?s failure to notice an object does not demonstrate, as it is usually taken to demonstrate, that subjects lack awareness of it. I want to convince you of this because only if you are convinced of it will you be patient enough to listen to suggestions by me about what is necessary for awareness and, therefore, what it is the absence of which would show that subjects were not conscious of a stimulus.

Çarşamba günü birkaç bilgisayarcı ve felsefeci dostumla birlikte katılmayı düşündüğüm konuşmaya dair hazırlanmış makaleyi okuduktan sonra bazı bakımlardan rahatsız oldum. Bu da söz konusu etkinliği izlemeye değer kılan unsurlardan biri. Eğer fırsat olursa belki geçenlerde Libet’ten okuduğum Mind Time – The Temporal Factor in Consciousness bağlamında bir şeyler sormam mümkün olabilir.

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Posted by on June 19, 2006 in CogSci, General


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