Emergence of Perception

To believe as modern cognitivists do that mind (beginning with perception of course) is nothing but a physicalist materialist manifestation of the brain and its physical processes, is to fail miserably  to grasp the nature of mind and the deep causal bases of perception.  Rather we must understand the four dimensions of the causal principle of perception.  These are Aristotle’s for categories or perspectives regarding any causal phenomenon, viz. (1) The material cause, (2) The formal cause, (3) the efficient cause and (4) the final cause.

Perception is the result of a complex set of interrelated causal principles and processes at several levels of existence.  These include: (1) The physical nature of the ecological world, a world that contains, by its very nature, a nested hierarchical structure of material constituents.  (2) This layer of reality includes the ability of physical entities at all levels of granularity to interact with various forms of energy (magnetic, electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal, baric, electro-chemical, gravitational).  (3) These energy-entity encounters yield a set of ambient overlapping, concurremt. energy gradients that fill the atmospheric, liquid and solid layers of the ecology of any organism.  (Ecology is defined as a relationship between an organism and its natural habitat (this latter sometimes called its ‘ecological niche’).  (4) The energy gradients represent a dynamic flow of information about the nature of the entities with which the energy interacts, as well as information about the energy forms themselves.

All of the above layers of physical/ecological existence, are preconditions for the emergence of consciousness at the level of perception.  But these ontological/causal layers are not sufficient to yield consciousness.  There are more ontological layers and principles that must emerge in order to make perception possible and actual.  These additional principles include the physical, physiological, psychological systems and processes underlying an organism’s sensory organs and sensory-perceptual systems.  The organism’s sensory organs are specialized so as to be optimally sensitive and responsive to specific forms of ambient energy.  Thus the eye to electromagnetic energy, the ear to acoustic energy, the nose and tongue to chemical energy,  the skin to thermal and baric energy, and the labyrinths to gravitational energy.   But this must be strongly qualified, for the organs are not specialized to ‘perceive’ or ‘detect’ forms of energy per se, but rather the entity-specifying information carried in the ambient gradient structures of the different forms of energy.

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