Friday, January 29, 2021

Jonathan Cohen: Perceptual representation, veridicality, interface theory

"Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception" 

 Professor Cohen: “But HSP’s case against veridical perception, and their case for an alternative account, turn crucially on significant misapprehensions in the early going about what veridicality amounts to. ...” 

“Finally, it would seem that Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash’s supposedly alternative, 'interface' picture of perception is in fact no less committed to veridical perceptual representation than the views they aim for it to replace. ..."

©2018 Peter Miesler - my horse barn

“... In the end, I’ll conclude, HSP give us no reasons to abandon the standard view that perception veridically represents the world.”       Jonathan Cohen 

Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception,” another paper, another perspective, another impressive thought provoking read that I liked because it resonated with my own ideas on the matter.

Cohen’s paper weighs in at 5500 words and my first culling for highlights, came in at 1800 words.  After a few rereads and some brutal deletions, I have this summary down to <500 words worth of highlights (food for thought) that I hope will encourage you to read the entire paper.  It's open access

In for a nickel, in for a dollar.

I thought I had finished with this review section of my “Hoffman playing basketball in zero gravity” and that my last act, before move on, was to send a short email to professor Hoffman asking if he’d responded to Dr. Mausfeld’s critique.  That netted me nine additional studies courtesy of Hoffman, now I feel obliged to read through them, and to share highlights from those that resonate with the points I was trying to get across during my book review.  

That's because I want this students guide to include as many informative expert voices as I can find, so please bear with me.

What am I trying to accomplished with all this?  (Continued below Cohen’s quotes.)


Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception

  • Jonathan Cohen, published October 15, 2015

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

volume 22, pages 1512–1518(2015)



Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (henceforth, HSP) … put forward an alternative “interface” theory, on which perception is an adaptively useful but truth-obscuring veil between perceiver and perceived. But HSP’s case against veridical perception, and their case for an alternative account, turn crucially on significant misapprehensions in the early going about what veridicality amounts to. 

In this paper I’ll identify this mistake, and then argue that it both undercuts HSP’s arguments against perceptual veridicality 

and prevents them from seeing that their own preferred conception of perception is itself committed to veridical representation, rather than an alternative to it. 

He who would distinguish the true from the false must have an adequate idea of what is true and false.

— Spinoza, Ethics II, proposition 42: proof.

Unfortunately, the arguments HSP offer us against the veridicality of perception depend crucially on a serious misapprehension in the early going about what veridicality amounts to. 

This mistake both undercuts their arguments against perceptual veridicality and prevents them from seeing that their own preferred conception of perception is itself committed to veridical representation, rather than an alternative to it. …

Veridicality mischaracterized

…, perception functions to represent veridically aspects of the distal world. (HSP) want to convince us, however, that this standard view is false. …

Veridicality revisited: content

… What is needed is the (standard) idea that perceptual states have content—intuitively, what they carry information about, tell us about, or say about, the world …


Content and falsity

… Alas, this truism turns out to be somewhat embarrassing for HSP, in so far as the examples they use to motivate their denial of perceptual veridicality depend crucially on controversial (and unsupported) assumptions about just what contents states have. …

If we follow HSP, then, in thinking that computer interfaces are useful models for understanding perception, then what they have said so far gives us no reason for denying that perception veridically represents the world, and every reason for affirming that it does.

Evolutionary games

… (HSP) evolutionary game theoretic argument forms the heart of their case. …

But the results HSP describe do not show anything of the sort. … 

Rather, these games compare one veridicality-requiring strategy against a different veridicality-requiring strategy….

Veridically representing payoffs and veridically representing other things

Because, as we have seen, HSP’s simulations only ever involve competitions between perceptual strategies that represent veridically, their simulations are not in a position to answer either of the following questions: …


… Finally, it would seem that HSP’s supposedly alternative, “interface” picture of perception is in fact no less committed to veridical perceptual representation than the views they aim for it to replace.

As far as I can tell, then, HSP have given us no reason for doubting that perception veridically represents the world.


What am I trying to accomplished here? 

Besides saying my piece while I’m still around? 

I want to collect as much supporting evidence as I can and leave behind a repository to serve certain students as an intellectual landscape map for exploring the art of deception through science by rhetoric and misdirection; along with thinking about how we perceive this physical reality we are embedded within.  

A collection of resources  to help those so inclined to find their own way through the labyrinth of claims and competing information coming at you from every direction.  

We used to trust our elders to advise younger generations, but my generations have been abject failures with their me first priorities, that turned a blind eye to children, Earth and society's future.  

Today's younger generations need to figure out your own future.  For the most part, all today's generations of old folks know is, how to consume, and how to rationalize and ignore our sins against humanity and our Earth's life support system.  

I also want to push the importance of personally recognizing and learning to appreciate the Physical Reality ~ Mindscape divide.  Seems to me it does a wonderful job of helping an individual resolve that contrived dog chasing tail “body-mind problem.”  At least I can’t figure out where the problem is.  

But then I’m an Earth Centrist, with the solid foundation that a deep appreciation for Evolution affords one.  

For instance, I glory in the knowledge of being a creature born out of billions of years worth of this Evolutionary pageant that has unfolded upon our wondrous Earth.  

Furthermore, that’s not just a piece of information for me, it’s something that’s taken on a visceral awareness within my mind and body.  I feel related to the landscapes and creatures around me and the events unfolding in the time I’ve been blessed with.  It makes me care, try to consume less and nurture more.

I don’t agonize over my coming death and the end of my mind, or my soul, or heaven, or hell, or who someone wants to be, or sleep with, or how someone wants to worship the mysteries.  Faith, religion, is reflected in how we live our lives and how we treat others, not in press clippings, and profits.  Besides religions are elements of our human Mindscapes, outside of the Physical Reality that created us and that we exist within. 

Look around, we can’t escape the physical reality of Earth and her biosphere and the fact of 2021 and all Earth's vital signs trending in wrong directions because of self-serving humanity's collective disregard for nature.  Our life support system.  

There will be a reckonings and it will be ugly, when the systems we thought we could rely on aren't going to be able to be there, then the breakdowns will cascade in a chaotic mess and most of us won’t find ourselves at the other end of those tough times.  Ugly, but physical reality is what it is, no matter how many fantasies people paper it over with.  We brought this upon our future. Then the dust will settle and survivors will carry on in their brave new world, same as it ever was.

The only ones that have a chance to ride out the coming storms will need to be ‘physical reality smart', (no more fantasizing for fun and profit), science smart and have a solid humanist spiritual core.  An inner strength that can only come from an intimate understanding of Earth’s pageant of deep time, the dance of geology~biology that over billions of years, unfurling one day at a time, created a planet with a biosphere and creatures like none other.

Seeking mystical experiences?  Look no further than learning to comprehend Earth's Evolution unfolding over deep time.  

The ancients and their books were great for their time and place, but this is now, and science holds the key to learning further important secret's of our human condition.   

Speaking of mystical, poetically speaking: You are star dust and the most exquisite example of god's need and desire to know itself.  

Deeper understanding is an emergent sort of thing, a reward for honestly doing our homework and learning the lessons life and our biosphere has to teach us.  A lot of it is personal observation, but that’s useless by itself.  It must be supplemented with information exchange and knowledge that only a global community of dedicated, educated, competitive scientists and their support staffs, and serious students can provide.  For those willing to do the homework.

Years become decades in a hurry.  (The long view, getting into the nitty gritty, because I'm tired of waiting.  :-)  )

Only those people who are passionately curious and dedicated to understanding Earth, her biosphere, and her ways and means honesty will possess the tools and inner solidity for making their particular situation work out.  After all, our new, ever increasingly hotter climate regime, we ourselves pushing Earth into, will impact regions radically differently.  Globalism will be out, but survival won't be.  

Tragic part is that Earth's Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine has a massive amount of momentum within it.  I've been eye witness to watching that engine gaining momentum over the past half century, signs have been everywhere.  A once amazingly stable global climate regime, has been energized faster than anything other than a comet impact.  Now in 2021, the consequences are on the news every night. 

It's really terrifying if you have any sense for it, along with an appreciation for the flow of time. We're in the prelude of changes that will take millennia to fully unfold, powering down was the only sane thing to do, but that was then, and this is now.

Which brings me back to why I feel such personal umbrage at Hoffman's "Case Against Reality" that I'm sticking with this project.  

Hearing someone of Hoffman's stature proclaiming to anyone that will listen, especially the under-informed, that "Spacetime and Reality is Doomed" and that "Evolution lied to us," is upsetting.  This from a guy that knows nothing about actual "wet" evolution, because he's never studied it, yet is treated like he's an expert on evolution.

Then, watching him justify replacing spacetime as we know it with sickeningly simplistic games cloaked in incomprehensible mathematics to add a sense of profundity, yet that leaves his audience absolutely empty in regards to how it might relate to them and their day to days.  

It's contrived nonsense for fun and profit, in a time when we people need to reacquaint themselves with honesty in appraising Earth and the intensifying situation we are dealing with! 

Huge swaths of academia take it and themselves way the hell too seriously.  I mean spending who knows how much treasure and brain power and all the while these same humans and scientists / mathematicians / philosophers act totally oblivious to the truly existentially self destructive behavior humans keep doubling down on.  It's unfathomable for me.  

As though we have all the time in the world, like nothing is happening outside their ivory towers.  I'm sorry for being so angry, but for a guy that has loved academia and scientists and learning and trying to understand Earth, I have every reason in the world to feel cheated by the adults that were supposed to be guiding us.

Can you understand how that might anger a simple working family man who appreciates that our biosphere and weather patterns are my children's and family's life support system - and they are being wantonly broken.  While the smartest minds around are getting lost within their self-serving Mindscapes and losing sight of the Physical Reality our existence depends on.

That's why I'm engaged in trying to compile as useful information repository.  Intended for students who believe in defending honesty, confronting liars, and encouraging serious critical thinking. 

(Hopefully I'm finished editing. Jan 31, 2ish Rocky Mtn Time.  

Dang, this one won't leave me be, ever time I return for one last read through, it demands changes and additions.  Hopefully it's been put to bed for good this time.)




Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

©2020 Peter Miesler
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Cmty: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentariesDonald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. ...

(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, 

“The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”
(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One
(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality
(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources
(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.
(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Students' Resource
(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource
(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource



(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Dr. Mark Solms, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinning . . . 


(7.01)  An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism     
(7.02)  Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide          
(7.03)  Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
(7.04)  It’s not a “Body-Mind Problem,”  it’s an “Ego-God Problem.”

Feel free to copy and share

Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


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