The Cognition-Perception Distinction Across Paradigms: An Ecological View

AbstractFolk psychology takes perception and cognition to be two distinct processes. It seems that when we perceive the world we engage in one kind of activity and when we think about it we engage in a different one. This conception underlies various discussions within the cognitive sciences, e.g., on the architecture and modularity of the mind, and the cognitive penetrability of perception. But is the distinction justified? This paper looks for an answer in two opposing paradigms in the sciences of the mind: traditional cognitivism and ecological psychology. Although cognitivism is the dominant paradigm, we argue that it has thus far failed to give a definite account of the relation between perception and cognition, and to support or to deny their separation. Ecological psychology, on the other hand, rejects the distinction and integrates cognition with perception. We discuss previous work within the ecological view and sketch directions for future research.

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