She now works on topics from the philosophy of mind and epistemology. Her books The Contents of Visual Experience and The Rationality of Perception were printed by Oxford University Press. Other books include”Rich or Thin?” In 2018 she gave the Saul Kripke Lecture, CUNY Graduate Center, also in 2020 she delivered the Jack Smart Lecture, in ANU.
A second sort of perception is the general take on a situation — your own personal vision. An optimist perceives items as basically looking up. You and a sibling may have different takes in your family’s dynamics, and in that instance you’re perceiving the same situation differently.
Third, there is perception as a culture-shaping force. Stereotypes belong . Women bosses or people figures are more readily seen as angry or aggressive if they criticise a person or a policy. We speak of how perceptions of a political offender might be shaped by campaign policy. Regardless of their differences, perceptions of three types have this in common: they characterise the world because it appears to us. We browse the world in their foundation, drawing inferences from them, acting on the basis of these, relying upon them to interpret what we find.
Philosophers study all three topics: sensory perception, private vision, stereotypes. But each one is so complex that it requires analysis from other disciplines too: cognitive neuroscience for sensory perception; societal psychology for personal eyesight; politics, history, and sociology such as stereotypes.
It’s something which’s quite relevant for you at the US in the present time, particularly personal eyesight and stereotypes, in that the culture of particular areas that people grow up in will influence how they see the planet; the way they vote. But it’s also likely to determine whether they are likely to be influenced more or less by particular advertising campaigns or specific messages from the media. But before we discuss the media, I’d like to get your take on how much you think culture and gender shapes how we perceive the world.
Good question. The types of perception interact in powerful ways.
Sensory perception may reveal that somebody fails to match a stereotype. Private vision directs focus, forming sensory perception: that the relaxed optimist ceases to smell the roses. And stereotypes can inform one’s private vision of a circumstance.
How can stereotypes shape our personal vision? Sometimes their sway is benign. Other times it’s politically or morally debatable, as when a person lets a negative stereotype form an interaction, presuming someone else to be incompetent, dangerous, or otherwise low in status.
The extent to which stereotypes influence personal vision depends on their interplay with sensory perception. This interplay is especially pronounced in chance encounters with people that you endure no other relation to other than simply sharing a culture –‘strangers’. In these moments, you rely heavily on your prior assumptions, and you use them together with sensory understanding to form an interpretation.
There’s another reason why the interplay between the three types of perception things: taken together, they are a form of political awareness. You become aware of sharing a society, even if only implicitly, when you occupy the same public space as somebody else, by simply waiting in line at the grocery shop, passing on the sidewalk, riding the subway, or playing in the park. On such occasions we convey reactions to our political association: hostility, openness, curiosity, seriousness, admiration, joy, indifference. Any response here is a mode of political awareness.
Not all of such encounters are harmonious. Sometimes they’re occasions for rehearsing patterns of domination, like one person’s suspicions lead her to phone the police to a guy who is birdwatching, because the sight of him activates in her a stereotypical fear, even though the man couldn’t be doing something more peacefully ordinary. Here, stereotypes are sensory perception, shaping a individual’s vision in a harmful manner.
Public micro-interactions are also opportunities to manifest simple forms of trust. Such minutes may be of small importance taken in their own: somebody allows you to go first once you approach the same long line. So what? But having ample chances for all these interactions is vital, since they manifest basic forms of civic comprehension. This can matter a whole lot in a society teeming with patterns of social domination, particularly when there are orchestrated attempts to perpetuate them.
The interplay between both kinds of perception has tremendous potential for creating interpretive skills that let you learn how other people go through the society you share. Here it’s fascinating to comparison in-person interactions with online formats. Think of jury duty, a classroom conversation in night school or college, or a neighbourhood assembly. In such settings, when folks speak, you hear what they say, taking it in alongside the rest of the information you get via your sensory perception. You listen to their voice with its own tone of sarcasm or compliments or fire. You see what they look like, you see how they comport themselves. You bring all of your cultural understanding to bear on the way you interpret what you perceive.
By comparison, in many talks on the internet, you might know very little about the people that you’re interacting with. By leaving direct sensory perception, social networking platforms divorce the message of what someone’s saying from the surrounding details which you’d normally get from sensory perception. Here, too, we rely upon our cultural understanding to interpret the messages. But all our interpretive forces are concentrated on the words.
All these formats has its own advantages and disadvantages. When a stage filters out information that you’d get from embodied sensory perception, the filtering lets you concentrate more directly on what the individual is saying. That is your only entry to another person — through what they say. In some types of discussion, this filtering may be a benefit. In a town hall or in a convention, for example, it is important to be able to separate what folks say from that you think they are, based on which you could perceive. When you’re talking reactions to a text or a movie, or when you’re brainstorming how to address a issue, or evaluating potential answers, what things are only the things being made.
Subjecting perspectives to people responses could be a step in turning inchoate opinions into something more thought through. John Dewey emphasised this point: having to explain your opinions prods one to consider them from the interlocutor’s perspective. This process frequently makes residual questions evident, and may lead people to change their thoughts, given they are not too invested in their perspectives about being with. Writing down things for others to read is a way to work through your own thoughts. This is the reason why students write term papers. When you’re asked to deliberate with individuals in a classroom, a conference, or meeting of jurors, your job is to consider what people are saying on the merits. And when the most direct route to’the virtues’ is via articulated thoughts, then an internet format can be pretty good. A more sensory-perception laden discussion might even slow down the procedure.
Social media platforms in principle enable such discussions with folks you may not otherwise interact with. But we’d be missing a great deal if we attempted to substitute this arrangement for in-person discussions with their perceptual richness. It’s not that the understanding itself shows the truth about individuals. Frequently it doesn’t. However, the process of needing to incorporate what you perceive, what you are inclined to infer from it, and claims made by your interlocutors is a skill with civic importance. It is no accident that bulk propaganda campaigns subtract embodied discussions from the equation. There might be nothing more important for democracy than having forums for discussion that allow us to examine our assumptions about individuals against that which we find in real encounters. If we just listened on platforms which filtered what somebody else says from the remainder of what we can perceive, we would sidestep the art of creating the nuanced, layered perceptions of people. That’s an important skill in a democracy, even when people whose situations aren’t like your have a say in the way you’ll be governed. Democracy suffers when we lack the forums and opportunities for growing all three kinds of perception in public, by the public, for the public. When we lack these forums, democracy endures, and thus do our powers and customs of social interpretation. The crucial issue is how malleable our prior assumptions about one another are. How easily is it adjusted, and from what? Which social areas, public spaces, and networking vessels expand the opportunities for interplay between the three kinds of understanding? Which types reduce it?
The internet does permit individuals to behave quite badly at times, certainly in ways that they wouldn’t normally behave. I’d like to get back to, you mentioned a bit sooner, the influence of the media. Today it’s so pervasive, while it’s social media or the news media, television or radio, it has a huge impact on how we perceive the world. Yes, we will choose certain media stations, potentially culture will form which ones we are likely to choose, but are we all, in ways, victims of this media we decide to consume, in that it is going to determine the way we perceive the world?
That is an important question. I’d flag the term”sufferers of the media we choose to eat”. It highlights the notion that our principal connection to the deliverances of media is ingestion. Running with this metaphor, even when something enters your head, it stays there for a while, how food stays in your stomach. Your body takes what it needs from the food and the remainder gets discarded automatically, then it’s on to another meal. With timeour bodies have been shaped by what we consume.
About the consumer model, the flow of data from vessels of media into our minds has roughly the same trajectory. Information comes in, much of it is discarded, some of it sticks, and as time passes, we’re formed by information we retain, with minimal interaction between that informa tion and our earlier nation. As we can choose what to consume based on what we like, we can do the same with networking resources. In both situations, we might not know what the long-term effects will be of our intake.
The customer version for how societal and news media affect our perception can be apt. It treats news on level with entertainment, and a few formats for news websites do the same — infotainment, that highlights attention-grabbing things: star, novelty, the more sensational, the eccentric.
The consumer version is also apt for the kind of influence campaign designed to make negative perceptions of classes with mass media, and make them more sticky and less malleable.
An especially effective method to create new negative cultural senses, where before there were none, is by creating accusations that one group of people is feeling schadenfreude toward a different group, for example by cruelly celebrating another group’s pain. If you knew nothing about a bunch, but learned that they were observing your pain and thought the message, you would be offended and feel disdain. You wouldn’t trust them. Propaganda of this form is a powerful means to create perceptions and stereotypes that are not likely to be malleable, unless the accusations have been shown to be untrue and the accusers discredited.
Most types of propaganda amplify preexisting negative perceptions. A typical far-right conspiracy theory site is heavily populated by accusations of schadenfreude, such as that anti-Trump activists laughed as they threw objects at Trump’s caravan, possibly causing an accident, and that Black Lives Issue protestors celebrated the murder of a white fiveyear-old. A competition of Trump probably would not give the propaganda much credence, whereas for Trump fans, the propaganda only strengthens their support for him and disdain for people he denigrates. Like accusations of schadenfreude, this kind of propaganda is meant to have asymmetrical consequences.
The consumer version of media is apt for propaganda of this sort.
However, the consumer model has some limitations as an instrument for assessing the interplay between perceptions and media. For one thing, it does not fit every sort of influence effort. A well-known and fascinating media technique manufactured in Russia is known as’the firehose of falsehood’, where the same messages are continually replicated in multiple media, so it seems to come from different sources. Due to the high volume of messaging included, executing the procedure needs a labour force: bot farms. But instead than solidify a single message, here the purpose is to sow confusion with contradictory messages, so that people will be left not knowing what to believe, will feel they have no way to discover, and so will merely have to choose whom to believe, or be apathetic.
The firehose of falsehood system doesn’t match the consumer version of media and its uptake. Instead of choosing to consume specific media, you’re bombarded regardless of which media you select. And instead of ending up engaged with all the media that leaves you most comfortable, you’ll probably end up confused, unless you have a concept to help translate the role of the informational chaos.
The firehose of all falsehood is designed to destroy democracy, and also the consumer version isn’t so good for democracy, possibly. Both make it simpler to get stuck in one perspective, while it’s apathetic or opinionated.
Democracy requires a better version for media. In its currently fragile state, it has one. It is the public importance model: what belongs in the information is what is important to publicise in a democracy. And some information, when publicised, will ease action, expression, and inquiry, which makes us like a mere spectator or consumer.
For instance, election news policy could concentrate on what voters think the main issues in the campaign ought to be rather than how candidates are polling, or the way they are perceived. Clients would then no longer be mere spectators or consumers. Instead they’d see themselves as potential contributors to the narrative, as somebody whose perspective the newspaper is attempting to reflect. The media analyst Jay Rosen recommends this type of election coverage, and that I agree. Political deliberation will be about determining what will be best overall for everybody, but just how can you do that if you do not know much about other people’s concerns?
When journalism turned into a profession in the United States from the 1920s, a central plank in its own professionalisation was that editors and journalists necessary to utilize’news judgement’ to determine what was important for the public to learn about, and even what it had been significant to want to learn about. This role for journalism matches the significance model better than the user version. It’s a safe wager that outside political elites, many individuals have been unfamiliar with the Hatch Act. And you can not care whether a law is broken, in case you haven’t ever even heard about it. Imagine if a president all but forces his appointees to violate it by holding the Republican National Convention about the White House motives, as Trump did in August 2020? Section of a journalist’s task here is to notify the public about the law and show them why it ought to care about itif they had no antecedent knowledge or interest in it. On the importance model, journalism frames issues, and can just as much leave us needing to know more, rather than sated with information or’infotainment’.
We find framing impacts on cultural understanding where there are political forces. That includes journalism, social networking, and political campaigns. The Occupy movement gave us the notion of this 99%. This was a frame that individuals could easily use to consider vast inequality, and it stuck.
It’s interesting you mention the word framing because the press is constantly doing this, but I wonder whether we’re stuck with the frame that we choose.Take any of the examples that you have used there. Certain elements of the media are going to show that story one way and other pieces of the media can present it at a completely different light. The media you choose will determine the way you perceive the narrative. I just wonder if we’re stuck with all the media that people choose. We see ourselves as’this’ kind of person, we choose to see The New York Times,or’that’ type of individual and we choose to see Breitbart. Are we stuck with that? Can we get stuck in this kind of tube of information from which we can not extract ourselves?
Getting trapped is a true pitfall. How stuck we stay depends on what kinds of countervailing forces you will find. I think there are many forces which could be cultivated to prevent informational insulation.
One factor that works against these insulation is the kind of journalism that focuses on portraying the issues of a community back to your community. When it plays this role, it makes it possible to see what it is like for different people differently situated than you to reside at the exact same place you reside. It’s a really place-centred type of journalism, and it’s 1 reason why local news is important.
A powerful illustration of this type of journalism is the Boston Globe’s 2017 seven-part series on racism in Boston. For a week, the newspaper published a long article on a different part of this issue each day. 1 day was health care, another day was that the Seaport area development, other days focused on sports, education, political power, and potential solutions. It was extremely enlightening for everyone. A lasting result was to make it commonly understood that the median net worth of black Bostonians is eight dollars — that is the figure you get by subtracting debts out of assets. (The paper had to publish a followup post to reassure readers that these characters were not typos!)
Another countervailing force is increased transparency in electronic media. Ivy Lee, the founder of public relations, wrote in 1925 that”failure to disclose sources of information is the fundamental evil of propaganda”. He made a good point. This kind of information shouldn’t be limited to technologists. If platforms were designed to highlight information about the etiology of posts and how often the same message is repeated, it might help discredit a great deal of highly-charged misinformation designed to go viral. Social networking platforms are economically organised around fundamentals of virality and engagement.
Transparency can place a brake on virality, just as dire warnings on cigarette packages make them less appealing.
We have a tendency to believe that we’ve got this idea of what we perceive out there in the actual world. We see a universe out there. We believe we, to a certain extent, know what it is that we are perceiving, however is there much more to the real world than that which we could encounter? A whole lot more. There’s the microstructure of the Planet. Chemistry and physics and biology all tell us about portions of reality which aren’t perceptible to us via our perceptions. That’s among the great accomplishments of humankind: being able to make discoveries about the microstructure of earth. So there is that dimension of reality, which goes beyond sensory perception.
Then there are the dimensions of reality that you can read about. You can learn a great deal about other people’s lives from books and out of films. James Baldwin is often quoted as saying he believed his pain was exceptional until he read novels and realised that it was not unique at all, it had been the most frequent thing in the world. That’s incredibly important, especially in cultural minutes when social differences are sometimes held up as type of unbridgeable gulf.
We do occasionally reside in a type of experiential apartheid, in which a pair of people living in the same town, attending the same college, possess vastly different experiences, though they occupy exactly the very same functions in the associations. Two students, two faculty members, or 2 staff members might experience the exact same environment quite differently, because of patterns of social domination that manifest mainly in private interactions. One of the crucial things that the Humanities as a broad field of study does is to help individuals understand the terms of these kinds of experiential differences in depth. This type of engagement is a route to recognising both the similarity and the distance between you and other men and women. You do not get that by the quantitative sciences, as important as they are.
So yes, there’s undoubtedly more to the planet than you can comprehend, much more. There is the world’s microstructure. And there are societal dynamics and structures that are possible to know when we’re open to qualitative modes of study and engagement. In an era when poetry, literature, drama, music, philosophy, background are often devalued as modes of study and exposed to scepticism, we ought to recognise their crucial role in expanding what we could know about.
One last question. Perception isn’t reality. Reality outruns perception. However much intellectual work you perform, or studying or talking or experience, you are never going to have the full picture, and that’s why there are a lot of publications in the library. The unhappy reality is that you are never going to read all them. But they’ll be there, and a number of them depict the pieces of fact that you can not know about. The upshot? Both in life and in politics our basic attitude ought to be humility about the viewpoints we occupy.