Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Criticism of Noe: Andy Clark

The enactive approach states that perception is something that we actively participate in and do, and not merely something that happens to us in a passive manner. Alva Noe aimed to describe perception as an action - and so treated action as a crucial part of perception in itself. The constitutivist thesis is at the focal point of Enactivism and it states that both sensorimotor skills and knowledge constitute the contents within our perceptual experience. Although Noe's approach is widely accepted, flaws and limitations can be observed through the criticisms of Andy Clark, which are interpreted and described in Mineki Oguchi's (2008) paper "Is Perception Enactive?"

Clark utilised Milner and Goodale's "dual stream model" in order to critique Noe's approach. The most prominent limitation highlighted by Clark is "sensorimotor chauvinism". Clark states that sensorimotor chauvinism can be seen in this excerpt from Noe's Action in Perception ; "it turns out that there is a good reason to believe that the sensorimotor dependences are themselves determined by low level details of the physical systems on which our sensory systems depend. The eye and visual parts of the brain form a most subtle instrument indeed, and thanks to this instrument, sensory stimulations varies in response to movement in precise ways. To see as we do, you must then have a sensory organ and a body like ours".
 Clark states that this exhibits chauvinism as it restricts sensory systems to those who obtain a body and motor skills like we do. A priori that a creature or robot that has a different physical body to us can perceive anything is eliminated by this chauvinism. However, Noe responded to Clark's criticism by highlighting the TVSS case. The enactive approach, among beings that are embodied differently, shows weak multiple realisability in the way that it believes that vision that is tactile is like vision to the extent that sensorimotor isomorphism exists among both tactile and normal vision. However, doubt exists as to whether the case of TVSS is visual - and it is in this way that doubt is cast on the validity of Noe's response to Clark.

Another problem regarding Noe's approach pointed out by Clark can be referred to as "sensorimotor hypersensitivity". In his own words Clark states that "the full glory of normal human visual experience depends on a gross sensorimotor profile that very sensitively tracks the fine details of human embodiment". Clark believes that every sensorimotor dependence patterns' differences will directly impact on the associated experience of a perceptual nature. The enactive approach taken by Noe states that perceptual experience content is extremely sensitive to sensorimotor skills as well as these skills physical basis. The criticisms put forth by Clark highlight the possibility that a thesis other than that of Alva Noe's could prove more fitting.

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