The attribute of realness and the internal organization of perceptual reality

In Liliana Albertazzi (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Phenomenology. Visual Peception of Shape, Space and Appearance. Wiley (2013)
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The chapter deals with the notion of phenomenal realness, which was first systematically explored by Albert Michotte. Phenomenal realness refers to the impression that a perceptual object is perceived to have an autonomous existence in our mind-independent world. Perceptual psychology provides an abundance of phenomena, ranging from amodal completion to picture perception, that indicate that phenomenal realness is an independent perceptual attribute that can be conferred to perceptual objects in different degrees. The chapter outlines a theoretical framework that appears particularly well-suited for dealing with corresponding phenomena. According to this framework, perception can be understood as a triggering of conceptual forms by sensor inputs. It is argued that the attribute of phenomenal realness is based on specific types of internal evaluation functions which deal with the segregation of causes conceived as ‘external’ from those conceived as ‘internal’. These evaluation functions integrate different internal sources of ‘knowledge’ about the potential causes for the activation of conceptual forms and provide markers by which conceptual forms can be tagged as ‘external world objects’.
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