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Re: They sometimes behave so strangely

right... yes, thanks for this - it makes me have to stop and think about
my terms. perhaps i could illustrate by example. By urgent, I mean a
constituent of the causal environment. something falling towards my head
is intrinsically urgent - it is 'urgent' whether I perceive the urgency
or not. so 'urgency' here means "imminent consequences" (and in this
case, the consequences are not recommended for my ongoing wellbeing in
the world). what it takes for me to survive the circumstances is for me
to have an appropriate representation of urgency, including some inbuilt
intentionality to preserve my wellbeing. Now, a fly might do this very
simply - a shadow falling on a receptor leading to a straightforward
stimulus-response involving flying away very promptly. In this case, the
fly has a very pared-down representation, consisting of "fast-moving
shadow=move immediately". it's not necessary to suppose that the fly
takes any time pondering on what the shadow might be. the fly has
represented urgency in a most economical fashion - but not very flexibly
For a phylogenetically more complex organism, whith larger energy
budget, a more flexible representation can lead to more appropriate
action across a variety of circumstances. For me to blindly leap to
another location every time a fast-moving shadow occurs, there is
considerable energy cost, and because I'm bigger, there's more chance of
harmful collision, or i might alert a potential predator that hadn't
actually noticed me, and not be fast enough to escape. So it's important
for me to build much more detailed representations of the causal
circumstances around me - we could call this 'causal mapping'. A lot of
this learning must be done in 'spare time' - sort of 'off line
processing' when circumstances aren't filled with urgent items that must
be reacted to. so it's important that i do this kind of representation
building, so that I can have anticipation, and much finer judgement of
items in the 'urgency background' - that hole in the wall, or that tree
might become useful if some rapid change in the causal context - such
as the arrival of a predator- comes up.

So, basically, the difference between 'urgency' and 'importance' is
really about timeliness - urgent circumstances impose a timescale upon
one ('event driven') whereas important circumstances (such as
familiarising oneself with the lie of the land, the escape routes, the
routes from which threat could come, etc) can be done virtually, by
perceptual exploration-  rather than simply waiting for a
stimulus-signal to fall on a receptor, stimuli can be sought out and
information assimilated into large, complex representations - importance
maps that can facilitate good-quality responses to urgent items.

This is why I think evolutionery arguments can be used too-narrowly;
it's not uncommon to hear that such-and-such an ability evolved to deal
with such-and-such a danger (teleological arguments aside). Many
abilities don't, in the short timescales of urgent circumstances, have
such an obvious utility.
hope that's a lot clearer!
>>> Julian Rohrhuber <rohrhuber@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 10/01/2007 16:42 >>>
Seems that, since I'm no native english speaker, the term "urgency" 
must have a slightly different connotation for me. In german we say 
"dringend" which is related to "Drang" and "Trieb" (drive). It is the 
emotion of something that has a direction already (being hungry, or 
similar). Before this direction is established, there may be 
something that like an urgent need to sort the environment. But again 
this seems to fit to what you call "call-to-action": so to what 
action does the not-yet-conceptualised call? I think in a way it can 
call to something like a cognitive and embodied concept formation.

The question for me: can there be something like "urgent concept 
formation"? And if so, in what way it is distinguished from 
"important concept formation"?

>ah! have to disagree slightly here. In unknown territory, everything
>potentially urgent (default setting) - though some aspects more than
>others - so "organisms"= very (potentially) urgent, "near"=similarly
>"coming" (as in auditory/visual looming) especially. A combination of
>all three=extremely(potentially) urgent. But urgency is not just
>threat - it's about 'call-to-action' - so potential prey/mate is
>in a different way. Watch how a dog perks up when it sees something
>heading away from it.
>so my point is that an unfamiliar environment has to be sorted
>according to urgency hierarchies first,  but running in parallel is
>understanding of important features such as "obstacle" (for hiding
>behind, or must be negotiated) and "way" (to something or escape from
>something). this mapping of the "urgency background" is important for
>understanding strategic issues. As far as I'm aware, there's little
>support for the notion that humans have better senses than other
>animals. Where human perception is 'better' is in understanding
>strategic issues - the "important" features as against the urgent
>So the ability to pay detailed attention to aspects of the
>that might seem currently irrelevant seems especially human, and it's
>this that undermines too-stringent interpretations of evolutionery
>arguments. It might also be this that underpins 'musical listening'
>well, that's wot I think, said Pooh...
>>>>  Julian Rohrhuber <rohrhuber@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 10/01/2007 12:18 >>>
>>I agree with the first sentence (below). I think some of the problem
>>lies with failing to distinguish between 'urgency' and 'importance'
>>considering the challenges facing perception.
>This is an interesting aspect. What I had in the back of my mind was
>the situation of walking in unknown territory, listening to the
>sounds - this listening is really important (maybe there is an danger
>round the corner) but not urgent (there is no way I can assign
>urgency to a continuum really). So urgency seems to be connected to
>the anticipation of a goal, while importance has a relation to an
>openness and perhaps a persistant activity.
>>>>>   Julian Rohrhuber <rohrhuber@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 10/01/2007 10:38
>>For as far as I can see, there is a fallacy in the idea of primacy
>>survival pressure, especially regarding perception. It assumes total
>>information by assuming that we know every phenomenon already in
>>advance and that fear itself is an unproblematic relation to the
>>existing danger in the environment (which we can know of only after
>>the event, strictly speaking).
>>Since we do not know everything that exists around us, and we do not
>>have yet formed the concepts for everthing, we need to listen and we
>>need to communicate to establish a world. I don't want to say that
>>there is no difference between a relaxed, passive situation and a
>>dangerous moment. Also it doesn't solve the interesting question of
>>what music is. Placing an 'unmediated' 'functional' listening
>>primary to a 'musical' 'aesthetic' listening seems to make the wrong
>>assumptions though.
>>Julian Rohrhuber
>  >
>>>what you and Brian are implying here is that 'musical listening' is
>>>substantively different from the kind of listening that has evolved
>>>the face of normal environmental conditions where survival issues
>>>naturally take precedence. This places musical listening in a
>>>where 'normal' mechanisms have been 'hijacked' for some other use,
>>>outside of the usual evolutionery pressures - this is Stephen
>>>position, i think. However, I feel it can't be so black-and-white -
>>>environments aren't always so urgent (and in any case, being a
>>>in morocco should awaken one's survival instincts sufficiently to
>>>suppress any luxurious non-survival-oriented perceptual styles. I
>>>accept that musical listening might be somewhat analogous to using
>>>vision to appreciate a 'nice view' where imme3diate threat is
>>>absent - but the analogy can't be pushed too far; our recreational
>>>of vision seems somehow less abstract - it's more usually of
>>>(even if colour is exaggerated) whereas music is the 'thing' in
>>>with exceptions in both cases, of course.
>>>Dr. Peter Lennox
>>>Signal Processing Applications Research Group
>>>University of Derby
>>>Int. tel: 1775
>>>>>>    Pierre Divenyi <pdivenyi@xxxxxxxxx> 01/09/07 19:54 PM >>>
>>>In the same vein, just imagine your boss who calls you in his
>>>morning and sings, beautifully and with great musical expression,
>>>On 1/9/07 9:35 AM, "Brian Gygi" <bgygi@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>>>    Peter Lennox wrote:
>>>>>    As you've implied, the mystery is not so much that
>>>>>    perception of musicality, but rather that 'normally', we
>>>>>     I've often wondered on this in respect of environmental
>>>do we
>>>>>    not hear a "musical world"?
>>>>    That is what numerous composers have tried to do for the past
>>>>    hundred years, to get us to hear the world in more musical
>>>>    think the reason we do not do this on an everyday  basis is
>>>>    is contrary to the demands of our normal everyday functioning
>>>>    complex acoustic environment.  If you get so caught up in the
>>>>    of a soundscape, you will fail to notice important things,
>>   >the
>>>>    people honking at you who are about to hit you (a particular
>>>>    countries such as Morocco).  For everday listening, what is
>>>>    the nature of a sound source and its location.  Those are
>>>>    the goals of musical or linguistic listening.  If you are
>>>>    a soundscape that is sufficiently different from what you are
>>>>    to, you may indeed notice the musicality of it, just as you
>>>>    musicality of an exotic language.  But if you lived there
>>>>    had to hear and respond to the sounds in an appropriate
>>>>    suspect the musicality would soon go away.  Which is
>>>>    bad thing.
>>>>    Brian Gygi
>>>>    East Bay Institute for Research and Education
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Dr. Peter Lennox
Signal Processing Applications Research Group
University of Derby
Int. tel: 1775