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Why Are Flowers Beautiful - Gibson makes sense of David Deutsch's confusion

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Published on Jun 21, 2013

Deutsch came up with the half-baked notion of a quantum computer 40 years ago but he has never built one; nobody has. It's a fantasy that may or may not ever become relaized. However, in this talk, we can see how affordance theory might address the more reasonable topic he discusses - aesthetics and art. If we emphasise action as much as perception, it can and does. David Deutsch is not only a pop-star physicist (e.g., theory of quantum computing) but also for his books (e.g., Fabric of Reality; Beginnings of Infinity). Of interest to ecological psychology types is his take on aesthetics which is remarkably compatible with the key ecological insight - that objective information (about affordances) supports perception and action, and that notions such as "beauty" are not merely subjective or "all in the mind" (if mind = brain). His answer to why flowers are beautiful is: "Signalling complex information across a gap between the species" such as flowers and insects (33:18). An ecological psychologist would concur. And "What is it like to be a bat?" (54:43). Consider blind individuals who use acoustic information for echolocation to ride bicycles (on this channel) - different energy (light vs. sound) but SAME invariant...multimodal (or cross-modal) information...and SAME affordances can be specified by such invariants (the information). Bats, therefore, see essentially the same world (i.e., one of affordances) as, say, a bird. This argument seems to me to have been lost on almost all philosophers and thinkers. The invariant information is the same; the difference of medium is largely irrelevant for an explanation. Perhaps if more physicists became aware of Gibson's importance in the history of 20th century thought (more than they have thus far, other than David Bohm) then greater progress could be made by both parties! There is much to consider in Deutsch's talk, in terms of how much conceptual progress ecological psychology has already made, and where it might go in the future. Aesthetic awareness may be the next great challenge to address, through experimental studies of how action is the dual of perception. However, Deutsch like so many, does not understand direct realism - believes animals only have access to non-mathematical (!) neural impulses, not inherently meaningful, rich, mathematical (!) invariants (ecological information about affordances). Typical. See:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=folTvN...

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT7DFC...

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