A Layered View of Shape Perception

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2) (2017)
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This article develops a view of shape representation both in visual experience and in subpersonal visual processing. The view is that, in both cases, shape is represented in a ‘layered’ manner: an object is represented as having multiple shape properties, and these properties have varying degrees of abstraction. I argue that this view is supported both by the facts about visual phenomenology and by a large collection of evidence in perceptual psychology. Such evidence is provided by studies of shape discriminability, apparent motion, multiple-object tracking, and structure-from-motion. Recent neuroscientific work has also corroborated this psychophysical evidence. Finally, I draw out implications of the layered view for processes of concept acquisition. 1 Introduction2 Metric Properties andShape Properties3 Metric Views4 Against Metric Views of Visual Shape Experience5 The Visual System Uses Abstract Shape Properties6 Against Metric Views of Visual Shape Representation7 Neural Underpinnings of Abstract Shape Perception8 Implications.

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E. J. Green
Johns Hopkins University


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