Article Summary

Critique of Alva Noe’s book “Action in Perception”
- by Ned Block

This article lays out the fundamental ideas of Noe’s book Action in Perception with the writer’s thoughts and criticisms. There are several intriguing and provocative explanations. It combines neuroscience of perception and the phenomenology of experience with an appreciation of the psychology. Noe believes in the process of visual perception, dependencies on the interactions between the observer and the spacial environment includes multiple sensories not only from the eye. There is a great emphasis that vision is not passive, but rather an active act of seeing along with touch or body movement to reassure what is perceived with additional information and conformation. The act of body movement constructs the experience of visual perception.
Noe claims the idea of “enactive view”, he explains that “Perceptual experience, according to the enactive approach, is an activity of exploring the environment drawing on knowledge of sensorimotor dependencies and thought” (p228). Sensorimotor serves to explain the way sensory stimulatenactiveion varies as you move. Sensorimotor knowledge is knowing how objective appearances change as you move but it is also a matter of knowing how rather than knowing that. The mind-body informations will inevitably be a source of attention to the enactive point of view.
The enactive view means the perceptual experience depends on sensorimotor contingencies (body movement and other sensory information to hypothesize. Our tactile experience of solid objects depends on sensing its resistance when we push against it, thus showing a minor dependency on the experience on action.
Humans and other primates have two distinct visual systems, a conscious visual system that begins in the back of the brain, moving to the bottom and side(ventral system) and from the back towards the top of the brain, a much less clearly conscious (dorsal system). The conscious ventral system is slow, directs towards long term visual planning of motion and uses object-centered observations from a stereotypical view instead of using the view from the current position. The egocentric dorsal system is fast, representing the distance and orientation without memory or color vision to guide the action. For example dribbling of a basketball down the court and avoid obstacles uses the dorsal system. Another example would be walking down the sandy beach, our feed avoids stones that we don’t seem to see. The dorsal system feeds more strongly than the ventral system to the peripheral vision.
The author defends the Alva’s attack by two points he’s trying to convey. First the information perceived through the experience is the brain and doesn’t include the rest of the body. Second, although body movement output instructions that affect the perceptual experience, the experience that is understood is abstract. I disagrees with Block’s defense because I too believe the active perceptual experience requires feedback from multiple senses not just from the passive sensation of the eye.

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