[From Bill Powers (2005.09.06.1841 MDT)]
Rick Marken (2005.09.06.1410) –
Do all of your perceptions always turn out to represent
the world as it actually
How would I know? All I know are my perceptions, not the way the
with no little tinge of wishful thinking
I certainly have succumbed to wishful thinking, but that’s thinking,
perceiving, and I have enthusiastically conceded that thinking
If you’re defining perception to mean experiences that do not
contain any imagined components, you can hardly expect me to deny that.
All I can say is that I don’t define perception that way. Perception, to
me, is anything experienced. In the model, it’s any signal in an upgoing
pathway. Above the level where the imagination connection is made, there
is no way for the receving system to tell whether any given perception is
drawn from wholly imagined or wholly sense-generated signals, or a
mixture of the two.
By my definition of perception, thinking is definitely a set of
perceptions, because we can observe our thoughts. Mine are (in part) a
combination of sentences and images, as well as some perceptions of lower
order like relationships. I suppose people differ in what they experience
Have you never deluded yourself about anything?
You betcha. But, again,
self-delusion is a memory, not a perceptual,
So our differences here hinge completely on the definition of perception!
I say that anything you can experience (including memories) exists as
perceptual signals. Some perceptual signals come (ultimately) from
sensory organs, some do not. Self-delusion is perceiving something on the
basis of imagined evidence. You would probably agree with that if I
stipulated that the evidence was entirely imagined, but not if I
said that some of it (not all, but some) was imagined.
I simply find your claim
that you always know when you’re imagining
parts of experiences difficult to accept.
I didn’t claim that. All I said was my experience is that I know when
imagining and I know when I’m perceiving. I believe it is possible that
of what I perceive is based on imagination and I don’t know it. But so
there is no evidence that this is the case and there is some evidence
lack of need for it in models and the sour milk demonstration) that it
not. But I still don’t rule it out.
OK, that’s good.
You once expressed
vehement certainty that O.J. Simpson was guilty of murder.
Yes. I was certain of my conclusion (an imagination) based on evidence.
didn’t see the son of a bitch do it.
I, on the other hand, after
watching pretty much the same T.V. shows, remained
Was your perception of his guilt based on strictly real-time
No. It was based on some real time perceptions but mainly on inference
deduction based on those perceptions: ie. thinking.
That is, imagination. Thinking is imagination, and since you experience
it, it’s a perception. Some real-time perceptions (Simpson trying
on the glove), some imagined (Simpson in a rage wielding a knife). The
imagined perceptions you made up yourself, using your ability to
manipulate symbols and all that.
If so, what did I
I don’t know. My guess is that you were willing to imagine some
implausible scenarios in order to come up with your
My conclusion was that I didn’t know. I didn’t see anything that said
“guilty” without requiring that I add a good dose of
imagination to it. At least some jurors agreed with that, and refused to
convict on the basis of what had been shown to them (not what they had
been asked to imagine).
Or could it be that you
imagined some things that were not actually portrayed > on the
screen, and that your perception was based in part on things you
imagined to be true, but never actually saw?
I think the explanation in terms of imagination distorting perception is
less plausible than my explanation in terms of thinking. I don’t think
imaginations distorted my perceptions; It’s the way I thought about
perceptions that made the difference. Though I also think that my
might have influence which perceptions I attended to and stored as
If you imagined that Simpson was “that son of a bitch” from the
start, I can see how this might have influenced your thinking even if you
But thinking is imagining; it’s the manipulation of imagined
symbols, images, and other perceptions. By this process, you can reach
any conclusion you please unless you lay out your rules of reasoning
publicly and get agreement on them, and stick to them. Most
“logical” reasoning of the informal sort is goal-directed; that
is, the desired conclusion is known beforehand, and we select
experiences. imagining data where necessary, to make the conclusion match
the reference-conclusion. This is how some people think science works:
you state your theory, and then try to prove that it’s true.
I didn’t see anything in the trial that would have forced me to vote
guilty, and neither did quite a few others. He may have done it, but the
trial didn’t settle that question. And neither would any amount of