[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Bates's question about claps

Dear List,

John Bates wrote:

"You can no longer pick out the streams and groups.  The applause
you get is a single amorphous spatially distributed stream of
noise.  What happened to the groups?  And is it important to know

This question reinforces the necessity of distinguishing between
the physical and psychological levels of description.  At the
physical level, when a single set of claps is joined by a
multitude of others, the original groups -- or "physical groups"
as Bruno would say -- are still there, since the presence of
other claps doesn't affect the existence of the first set of
claps.  However, at the psychological level, nothing "happened"
to the group consisting of the clapping of a single person, when
it was accompanied by a multitude of claps.  Its representation
was simply not mentally created in the latter case, because the
acoustic discontinuities needed to define it were not detectable.

It seems that perception (unlike many computer models,of it) does
not start with the individual claps or similar small entities,
using them to build up the amorphous mass of clapping.  Rather it
starts with the global input and forms smaller units only when it
detects discontinuities in the input that justify subdividing it
into units.  From this perspective, the question of where the
smaller units went when they were part of a mass does not arise.
They simply were not differentiated out of the whole.

Albert S. Bregman, Emeritus Professor
Dept of Psychology, McGill University
1205 Docteur Penfield Avenue
Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1B1

     Phone:  +1 (514) 398-6103
     Fax: +1 (514) 398-4896
     Phone & Fax: +1 (514) 484-2592