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The Problem with the Simple View: Summary

I'm sorry to keep repeating this but I want everyone to understand where we are. There are principles of object perception that explain abilities to segment objects, to represent them while temporarily unperceived and to track their interactions. These principles are not known. What is their status?

How do humans first come to know simple facts about particular physical objects?

The question is ... How do humans first come to know simple facts about particular physical objects?
Here’s what we’ve found so far.
We examined how three requirements on having knowledge of physical objects are met. Knowledge of objects depends on abilities to (i) segment objects, (ii) represent them as persisting and (iii) track their interactions. To know simple facts about particular physical objects you need, minimally, to meet these three requirements.

Three requirements

  • segment objects
  • represent objects as persisting (‘permanence’)
  • track objects’ interactions
The second discovery concerned how infants meet these three requirements this.

Principles of Object Perception

  • cohesion—‘two surface points lie on the same object only if the points are linked by a path of connected surface points’
  • boundedness—‘two surface points lie on distinct objects only if no path of connected surface points links them’
  • rigidity—‘objects are interpreted as moving rigidly if such an interpretation exists’
  • no action at a distance—‘separated objects are interpreted as moving independently of one another if such an interpretation exists’

Spelke, 1990

The second was that a single set of principles is formally adequate to explain how someone could meet these requirements, and to describe infants' abilities with segmentation, representing objects as persisting and tracking objects' interactions.
This is exciting in several ways. \begin{enumerate} \item That infants have all of these abilities. \item That their abilities are relatively sophisticated: it doesn’t seem that we can characterise them as involving simple heuristics or relying merely on featural information. \item That a single set of principles underlies all three capacities. \end{enumerate}

Three Questions

1. How do four-month-old infants model physical objects?

2. What is the relation between the model and the infants?

3. What is the relation between the model and the things modelled (physical objects)?

2. What is the relation between the model and the infants?

the Simple View

A natuaral answer is the Simple View: the principles of object perception are things that we know or believe, and we generate expectations from these principles by a process of inference.
occlusion endarkening

Charles & Rivera (2009)

The Simple View generates incorrect predictions.

The Simple View
incorrect predictions.

However, as we saw, the Simple View must be wrong because it generates incorrect predictions. This was the lesson of the discrepancy bewteen looking and search measures for both infants' abilities to represent objects as persisting and their abilities to track causal interactions.
As I've just been arguing, the failure of the Simple View presents us with a problem. The problem is to understand the nature of infants' apprehension of the principles given that it doesn't involve knowledge. This is a problem that will permeate our discussion of the origins of mind because it problems of this form come up again and again in different domains. It isn't the only problem we'll encounter, but none of the problems are more important or more general than this one.