Things and Places

Things and Places : How the Mind Connects with the World

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Description

Problems in linking representation and perceived things in the world are discussed in light of the role played by a preconceptual indexing mechanism that functions to identify, reidentify, and track objects.

InThings and Places, Zenon Pylyshyn argues that the process of incrementally constructing perceptual representations, solving the binding problem (determining which properties go together), and, more generally, grounding perceptual representations in experience arise from the nonconceptual capacity to pick out and keep track of a small number of sensory individuals. He proposes a mechanism in early vision that allows us to select a limited number of sensory objects, to reidentify each of them under certain conditions as the same individual seen before, and to keep track of their enduring individuality despite radical changes in their properties--all without the machinery of concepts, identity, and tenses. This mechanism, which he calls FINSTs (for Fingers of Instantiation), is responsible for our capacity to individuate and track several independently moving sensory objects--an ability that we exercise every waking minute, and one that can be understood as fundamental to the way we see and understand the world and to our sense of space.

Pylyshyn examines certain empirical phenomena of early vision in light of the FINST mechanism, including tracking and attentional selection. He argues provocatively that the initial selection of perceptual individuals is our primary nonconceptual contact with the perceptual world (a contact that does not depend on prior encoding of any properties of the thing selected) and then draws upon a wide range of empirical data to support a radical externalist theory of spatial representation that grows out of his indexing theory.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 11mm | 386g
  • MIT Press
  • Cambridge, United States
  • English
  • 26 figs. illus.; 52 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0262516144
  • 9780262516143
  • 1,032,807

Review quote

"Pylyshyn's bold and provocative thesis, that primitive object tags in early vision constitute a form of basic intentional contact with the world, brings much-needed empirical illumination to such hot philosophical topics as nonconceptual content, conscious experience, and demonstrative thought. A must-read for any philosopher of mind."--Joseph Levine, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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About Zenon W. Pylyshyn

Zenon W. Pylyshyn is Board of Governors Professor of Cognitive Science at Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science. He is the author of Seeing and Visualizing: It's Not what You Think (2003) and Computation and Cognition: Toward a Foundation for Cognitive Science (1984), both published by The MIT Press, as well as over a hundred scientific papers on perception, attention, and the computational theory of mind.
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Rating details

9 ratings
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4 33% (3)
3 11% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 11% (1)
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