Archive for ‘categorization’

March 28, 2014

Direct vs. representational perception — the discussion

by Neil Rickert

In prior posts (here and here), I have illustrated representational methods and direct methods.  The illustrations were from science, because that is more public so easier to demonstrate the contrast.  I believe that they illustrate well enough, the distinction between direct and indirect perception.  Both aim to provide the same sort of information about the world.  The method is different, though perhaps the differences are small enough to be confusing.

The primary distinction here is that direct perception is simpler and more direct, and does not rely on computation or inference.  This is why I see direct perception as more likely to be what has evolved, and thus a more likely candidate for explaining human perception.

Double categorization

One way of seeing the distinction is to look at it in terms of categorization.  Here, I use “categorization” to refer to the dividing up of the world into parts (or categories).  This comes from the old idea (from Plato?) of carving the world at its seams, though the seams might actually be man-made.

February 16, 2014

Individuals and categories

by Neil Rickert

If I say “there’s a stray dog in our garden,” you will understand “dog” as referring to some member of the dog category, rather than to a particular dog.  Of course, it is referring to the particular dog that is in the garden, but it is only its being in the garden that makes it particular.  We might say that it is a reference to a member of the category of dogs in the garden.

At another time, I might say something that seems to single out a very specific entity, so I might seem to be talking about a particular individual.

In this post, I want to argue that most ordinary language use is really about categories rather than about individuals.  And, moreover, when it seems to be about an individual, it is really about a very small category.

Tags:
February 15, 2014

From nihilism to knowledge

by Neil Rickert

I’ve been planning to post this for a while.  However, I have been struggling with exactly how to present it.  So I guess I should just blurt it out, and not worry.  The reason for my hesitation, is that I know it will be misunderstood by some readers.

This is related to earlier posts on convention and posts on categorization.

I shall be quoting two short segments from Genesis 1.  There is no religious reason for this, and I will be giving a non-standard reading of what I quote.  My reason for quoting is that the quoted text will be familiar to many.  And it happens to fit with the topic.

Epistemic nihilism

There’s a kind of epistemic nihilism, in which a person’s head is full of facts but he does not believe any of them.  This sometimes explored as a way of investigating the extremes of skepticism.

Tags:
January 8, 2013

Perception – categorization

by Neil Rickert

I have mentioned categorization in earlier posts, suggesting that it is important.  The trouble with the words “category” and “categorization” is that people use them in different and conflicting ways.  And that is perhaps why the importance of categorization is not well appreciated.

Ian, over at his “Irreducible Complexity” blog, has just posted something about categories that illustrates the different ways that categorization is used.

August 13, 2012

Symbols and categories

by Neil Rickert

In earlier posts, I have preferred the Shannon notion of information, according to which information is a sequence of symbols.  And I have emphasized that symbols are abstract objects.  The symbols are usually considered to be intentional objects, because it is only on account of our intentions that we consider them to be symbols.

In this post, I want to relate the idea of symbol with that of category.  I’ll start by assuming that the readers have at least an informal idea of what we mean by category.