Sense of Being Stared At

My message to Formative Causation list.

20.04.2013 13:14

Sheldrake’s paper [1] on the sense of being started at was the first paper with which I have got acquainted with Sheldrake’s ideas. The paper was recommended me during a discussion of Velmans’ paper [2] (see also Velmans‘ book [3]).

I am not sure that any new force could help here. When we discuss the sense of being started at, first it would be good to take a decision on a problem raised by Velmans: “Where experiences are”.

Let us consider a phenomenon “I see a cat” from a viewpoint accepted in science. There a person and a cat in a three dimensional physical space. Photons reflected from a cat strike some cells in retina and after that natural neural networks start information processing in the brain. That information processing somehow produces visual experience of a cat and now the question would be where such visual experience is located in the physical space. Is it in the brain or its location is coincident with the location of the real cat?

Max Velmans says that visual experience of a cat is located exactly where the cat is located. To this end, he introduces a notion of perceptual projection. Sheldrake makes a step further

My own hypothesis is that projection takes place through perceptual fields, extending out beyond the brain, connecting the seeing animal with that which is seen. Vision is rooted in the activity of the brain, but is not confined to the inside of the head (Sheldrake, 1994; 2003). Like Velmans, I suggest that the formation of these fields depends on the changes occurring in various regions of the brain as vision takes place, influenced by expectations, intentions and memories. Velmans suggests that this projection takes place in a way that is analogous to a field phenomenon, as in a hologram. I suggest that the perceptual projection is not just analogous to but actually is a field phenomenon.”

I could hardly imagine how a new force could help here.

Let me conclude by referring to [4], where the authors consider an alternative, that is, that the visual experience of the cat is located in the brain:

We would like to discuss the hypothesis that via the brain operational space-time the mind subjective space-time is connected to otherwise distant physical space-time reality.”

Once more, in my view it would be good to start by taking a decision where a visual perception of the cat is located, in the brain or outside of the brain.

[1] Rupert Sheldrake, The Sense of Being Stared At — Part 2: Its Implications for Theories of Vision, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 12, Number 6, 2005 , pp. 32-49(18).

[2] Max Velmans, Where experiences are: Dualist, physicalist, enactive and reflexive accounts of phenomenal consciousness, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, Volume 6, Number 4 (2007), 547-563

[3] Max Velmans, Understanding Consciousness, 2009.

[4] Fingelkurts, A., Fingelkurts, A., and Neves, C. (2010). “Natural World Physical, Brain Operational, and Mind Phenomenal Space-Time”. Physics of Life Reviews 7(2): 195-249.