Author: Claire F Michaels, Claudia Carello
Series: Century psychology series
Publisher: Prentice Hall (January 1, 1981)
An animal’s most commonplace successes in behaving give witness to the vastness and accuracy of its perception of its environment. A human, for example, usually walks without stumbling, normally grasps an object without toppling it, and often recognizes a friend even after decades. Such behaviors all illustrate that perceivers know their environments well. It is this fact that theories of perception, ultimately, should explain. The routes taken to explanation may be different, but the goal, we believe, is to account for the fact that animals perceive their surrounds sufficiently to guide discriminating actions (moving among surfaces without collision, catching prey, following verbal instructions, and so on). A theory of perceiving, then, is a theory of knowing the environment. While theories of perception can be sorted into categories according to various criteria, one set of distinctions, central to this book, sets the theory of direct perception apart from the more conventional approaches to perception. In this chapter, we examine these distinctions and thereby provide a contrast between the two classes of theories, for the contrast itself reveals much about the theory of direct perception.
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