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Abstract: The primary difference between direct and inferential theories of perception concerns the location of perceptual content, the meaning of our perceptions. In inferential theories of perception, these meanings arise inside animals, based upon their interactions with the physical environment. Light, for example, bumps into receptors causing a sensation. The animal (or its brain) performs inferences on the sensation, yielding a meaningful perception. In direct theories of perception, on the other hand, meaning is in the environment, and perception does not depend upon meaning- conferring inferences. Instead the animal simply gathers information from a meaning- laden environment. But if the environment contains meanings, then it cannot be merely physical. This places a heavy theoretical burden on direct theories of perception, a burden so severe that it may outweigh all the advantages to conceiving perception as
Abstract: Using hypersets as an analytic tool, we compare traditionally Gibsonian (Chemero 2003; Turvey 1992) and representationalist (Sahin et al. this issue) understandings of the notion ‘affordance’. We show that representationalist understandings are incompatible with direct perception and erect barriers between animal and environment. They are, therefore, scarcely recognizable as understandings of ‘affordance’. In contrast, Gibsonian understandings are shown to treat animal-environment systems as unified complex systems and to be compatible with direct perception. We discuss the fruitful connections between Gibsonian affordances and dynamical systems explanation in the behavioral sciences and point to prior fruitful application of Gibsonian affordances in robotics. We conclude that it is unnecessary to re-imagine affordances as representations in order to make them useful for researchers in robotics
Abstract: In her essay --?Information, Perception and Action--, Claire Michaels reaches two conclusions that run very much against the grain of ecological psychology. First, she claims that affordances are not perceived, but simply acted upon; second, because of this, perception and action ought to be conceived separately. These conclusions are based upon a misinterpretation of empirical evidence which is, in turn, based upon a conflation of two proper objects of perception: objectively with properties and affordances
Abstract: Within philosophy there is not yet an integrative account of unreflective skillful action. As a starting point, contributions would be required from philosophers from both the analytic and continental traditions. Starting from the McDowell-Dreyfus debate, shared Aristotelian-Wittgensteinian common ground is identified. McDowell and Dreyfus agree about the importance of embodied skills, situation-specific discernment and responsiveness to relevant affordances. This sheds light on the embodied and situated nature of adequate unreflective action and provides a starting point for the development of an account that does justice to insights from both philosophical traditions.
Abstract: For Merleau-Ponty,consciousness in skillful coping is a matter of prereflective ‘I can’ and not explicit ‘I think that.’ The body unifies many domain-specific capacities. There exists a direct link between the perceived possibilities for action in the situation (‘affordances’) and the organism’s capacities. From Merleau-Ponty’s descriptions it is clear that in a flow of skillful actions, the leading ‘I can’ may change from moment to moment without explicit deliberation. How these transitions occur, however, is less clear. Given that Merleau-Ponty suggested that a better understanding of the self-organization of brain and behavior is important, I will re-read his descriptions of skillful coping in the light of recent ideas on neurodynamics. Affective processes play a crucial role in evaluating the motivational significance of objects and contribute to the individual’s prereflective responsiveness to relevant affordances.
Abstract: I examine the central theoretical construct of ecological psychology, the concept of an affordance. In the first part of the paper, I illustrate the role affordances play in Gibson's theory of perception. In the second part, I argue that affordances are to be understood as dispositional properties, and explain what I take to be their characteristic background circumstances, triggering circumstances and manifestations. The main purpose of my analysis is to give affordances a theoretical identity enriched by Gibson's visionary insight, but independent of the most controversial claims of the Gibsonian movement