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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Perceptual contact without cognitive contact

Not quite an answer to the question of my previous post, but a follow-up from the discussion in posts like The fertility of indirect perception and Stereoscopy. Thinking again about (indirect) perception and reference I remebered Wettstein's motto, "linguistic contact without cognitive contact". An equivalent for Whitehead's indirect perception would be something like "perceptual contact without cognitive contact". The objective datum is contacted (causally) but not cognitively. For Whitehead, causation is a mode of perception (together with presentational immediacy). So, there is a contact there although nothing can be cognized about it. (The objective datum is, in Harman's image that adds a Heideggerian touch to the Whiteheadian image, withdrawn.). But Whitehead goes further to say that the subjective form is part of the object being perceived: what is cognized makes the object what it is. There is nothing in what is perceived apart from what is cognized. The subjective form is like a cognized quality of something perceived, except the quality is not out there before perception. Perception is creative: how something is sensed by something else is part of what it is - or rather, becomes how it is. Cognition, then, has to be thought of as creative - there is no possible exercise of capture that is not an episode of co-creation.

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