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Open Access Participatory Object Perception

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Social factors have so far been neglected in embodied theories of perception despite the wealth of phenomenological insights and empirical evidence indicating their importance. I examine evidence from developmental psychology and neuroscience and attempt an initial classification according to whether social factors play a contextual, enabling, or constitutive role in the ability to perceive objects in a detached manner, i.e. beyond their immediate instrumental use. While evidence of cross-cultural variations in perceptual styles and the influence of social cues on visual attention could not be said to play more than a contextual role, other factors such as the intricate developmental links between dyadic and triadic interactions in infancy, as well as episodes of peer-learning in children, play enabling roles. A common element in these factors is the presence and resolution of interpersonal conflict. Detached object perception could not develop without these social factors. I argue, in addition, that social skills such as managing partial social acts which are addressed to and completed by others, linguistic mediation, makebelieve play, and the ability to control perspectival switches are constitutive -- i.e. are of the essence -- of the ability to see objects as present with a detached attitude. I discuss the prospects of incorporating such social elements into dynamical interpretations of the sensorimotor approach through the enactive notion of participatory sense-making.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, IASResearch Centre for Life, Mind, and Society, University of the Basque Country, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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