The Innocent Eye

The Innocent Eye : Why Vision Is Not a Cognitive Process

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Why does the world look to us as it does? Generally speaking, this question has received two types of answers in the cognitive sciences in the past fifty or so years. According to the first, the world looks to us the way it does because we construct it to look as it does. According to the second, the world looks as it does primarily because of how the world is. In The Innocent Eye, Nico Orlandi defends a position that aligns with this second, world-centered
tradition, but that also respects some of the insights of constructivism. Orlandi develops an embedded understanding of visual processing according to which, while visual percepts are representational states, the states and structures that precede the production of percepts are not representations.

If we study the environmental contingencies in which vision occurs, and we properly distinguish functional states and features of the visual apparatus from representational states and features, we obtain an empirically more plausible, world-centered account. Orlandi shows that this account accords well with models of vision in perceptual psychology - such as Natural Scene Statistics and Bayesian approaches to perception - and outlines some of the ways in which it differs from recent
'enactive' approaches to vision. The main difference is that, although the embedded account recognizes the importance of movement for perception, it does not appeal to action to uncover the richness of visual stimulation.

The upshot is that constructive models of vision ascribe mental representations too liberally, ultimately misunderstanding the notion. Orlandi offers a proposal for what mental representations are that, following insights from Brentano, James and a number of contemporary cognitive scientists, appeals to the notions of de-coupleability and absence to distinguish representations from mere tracking states.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 162 x 239 x 25mm | 490g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0199375038
  • 9780199375035
  • 1,502,561

Table of contents

1 Vision is not a cognitive process ; 1.1 Introduction ; 1.2 The thesis ; 1.3 The argument ; 1.4 The context and the consequences ; 1.5 Conclusion ; 2 The Embedded View 67 ; 2.1 Introduction ; 2.2 Embedded seeing ; 2.3 Natural Scene Statistics ; 2.4 Bayesian approaches to vision: neuro{centrism without representation ; 2.5 Conclusion ; 3 Representation and the issue of evidence ; 3.1 Introduction ; 3.2 Implicit representation ; 3.3 Beyond misrepresentation ; 3.4 Is this just terminology? ; 3.5 Representation ; 3.6 The evidence: s-representations ; 3.7 The evidence: p-representations ; 3.8 Conclusion ; 4 The explanatory power of the Embedded View ; 4.1 Introduction ; 4.2 Stability ; 4.3 Constancy ; 4.4 Misperception ; 4.5 Visual illusion ; 4.6 Completion ; 4.7 Multistability ; 4.8 Semantic effects and cognitive penetrability ; 4.9 Conclusion ; 5 Computation ; 5.1 Introduction ; 5.2 Computation without representation ; 5.3 Seeing is not believing ; 5.4 Conclusion
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Review quote

Perhaps the greatest strength of the The Innocent Eye is that it functions as a sobering case study with which to focus recent debates over the role of representation in scientifically informed explanations. Regardless of one's philosophical allegiance, the book usefully draws out some of the stakes by centering in on the concrete issue of visual processing. In doing so, it provides a readable yet comprehensive contribution to one of the most important and hotly
contested areas in current philosophy of cognitive science. * Johnny Lee, Philosophical Psychology * I am sympathetic to Orlandi's viewpoint. The Innocent Eye draws the attention of philosophers to research that they have mainly neglected, and challenges the computationalist consensus that has been mainly taken for granted since philosophers learned about Chomsky, Pylyshyn, and Marr. * Analysis * In The Innocent Eye: Why vision is not a cognitive process, Nico Orlandi considers visual perception at a more basic level ... According to Orlandi, we should take seriously an 'embedded' view of vision. According to this view, the operations of the visual system do not consist in the following of rules, inferential transitions, or symbol manipulations. Rather, they reflect how, by being embedded in an environment, visual processes are hard-wired, naturally
biased or constrained to deliver certain outputs in certain conditions. Nico Orlandi's book is an original, detailed, and robustly argued defence of these claims. * Craig French, The Times Literary Supplement * Orlandi argues convincingly that philosophical theorizing about vision should highlight how the external environment molds visual activity. I think she would have done better to showcase the embedding environment in conjunction with the constructivist paradigm, not as the basis for a rival paradigm. Nevertheless, I found her discussion enjoyable and thought-provoking at every turn. All philosophers interested in perception should read this book * Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *
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About Nico Orlandi

Nico Orlandi is Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at Rice University.
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