Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Empiristic Theory of Visual Gestalt Perception (ETVG)

The general topic of this blog is the "Structure of Visual Space". In my "Empiristic Theory of Visual Gestalt Perception: Hierarchy and Interactions of Visual Functions" (ETVG) (2001, Koeln, Germany: Enane) I have already described and explained the structure of visual space. Many chapters are online: www.enane.de/cont.htm. With this posting I am giving the blog members the opportunity to get to know, discuss and even further develop this theory.

Here I am giving some information on the ETVG to prevent unnecessary misunderstanding:

(1) With "gestalt" perception is only meant perception as opposite of color perception. It contains figure-outfield, quantity, orientation, and form perception.

(2) In my first posting I described with the "Evolutionary Theory of Being" (ETB) a kind of supertheory in which perception is immediately realized on the 3rd , the "psychic", evolutionary level of Being, while the 2nd level contains living matters and functions, and the 1st level contains inorganic matter to which physic is related. At the 4th level, "mind" has been evolved.

(3) As shown in the ETB (see diagram), perception is realized as two kinds ("worlds"): (a) the psychic consciousnesses (PC) (including "phenomenal space" as called by John Smythies) and (b) psychic functions (PF) which, however, are absolutely unknown to vision science, and thus are also not considered in any theory that might be known to a blog member.

(4) Since a certain PF is "producing" a certain PC, the PCs are immediately and convincingly explainable only by referring to these their producers. This means: the entities that have been evolved prior to PF are the less responsible for the structure of a certain PC the farther away from PF they are located, according to the ETB. So visual theories that relate visual experience (PC) to physics or chemistry (UCO/UCM) are less useful for explaining visual sensations (PC) than theories that relate it to "neuronal [VM] mechanisms [VF]". And these neurological theories can account for sensations and other visual experiences less well than PFs do as only PFs are immediately connecting PCs because they "produce" them. However, despite these restrictions, the ETVG shows a certain correspondence between the general properties of the function carriers "neuron" and "gestalt factor". And it shows a certain correspondence between the functions of six ETVG-levels and the functions of six neurobiologically defined levels.

(5) Only after the trialistic view of vision has been described in the ETVG, a "Quadrialistic Theory of Man" has been introduced (www.enane.de/ETB1.htm): the "Four-Manner-Four-Level-Model of Reality" (later called "Evolutionary Theory of Being" = ETB), with its terms "psychic function" (PF) and "psychic consciousness" (PC). In the ETVG it is "functional/ functionology" that refers to PF, and it is "phenomenal/ phenomenology" that refers to PC.

(6) Since the structure of phenomenal visual perception (PC) (e.g. phenomenal space) can be explained convincingly only by referring to PF, and PF is unknown to science, vision science practically avoids in their theories of vision to depict the visual experiences (PC) they are claiming but are not able to explain. In contrast to it, in the ETVG a lot of relevant illustrations of visual experiences (PC) are shown and explained by their producers (PF).

(7) While the PCs are entities dependent on the PFs, the PF hierarchy itself evolves independently as the result of an unconscious learning process in early infancy. The hierarchically ordered gestalt factors are fixed as memory contents and must be "actualized" step by step in order to produce their corresponding gestalt qualities.

(8) The most important relations between sensory stimulus and visual experience consist of the fact that different visual experiences can follow one and the same sensory stimulus. This happens, for example, when attention directed on the stimulus increases or decreases. Or when the same optical pattern impinges the eye for different but very short times (as shown in tachistoscopic experiments), or when instead of time the light intensity changes (you can see the same material things in darkness less accurately than in full illumination). There is not any theory of visual percption except the Empiristic Theory of Visual Gestalt Perception that is able to explain which visual experiences are theoretically expected under different conditions of stimulation. The ETVG describes both a ten-level hierarchy of 25 "gestalt factors" (in the world PF) and its product, the corresponding ten-level hierarchy of 25 "gestalt qualities" (in the world PC). When the conditions of stimulation smoothly increase, the PF hierarchy of gestalt factors will be "actualized" step by step from the bottom up, so that the corresponding gestalt qualities will appear step by step as well and thus enrich the visual experience and make it more and more complex.This process is called the "actualgenesis" of the percept. The opposite process, the "actual lysis", consists in the "de-actualization" of the PF hierarchy from the top down which leads to the "de-differentiation" of the percept or even to its total disappearance. The ETVG deals predominantly with those 17 of the 25 gestalt factors that constitute the static two-dimensional visual perception.

(9) Since many gestalt factors interact one with another, a lot of "gestalt laws" are to be found, and thus the ETVG can already account for a number of wellknown visual facts. These laws refer not only to visual space but also to visual time.

As I wrote at the beginning, with this posting I am giving the members of the "structure of visual space group" a chance to get to know, discuss and even further develop this "theory of the structure of visual space". I will see how they seize this chance. This Empiristic Theory of Visual Gestalt Perception (ETVG) is all that I have to say on visual perception since 2001. It is now the job of others to think about it.

My own job is to further develop that theory which goes - among others - beyond visual perception described in the ETVG (and thus enclosing visual perception): the double-quadrialistic "Evolutionary Theory of Being" (ETB) (see my first posting) which describes "all that is" as a system of four "evolutionary levels" interlocking with four "manners of Being" and thus forming eight "worlds".