The given in the woods

A picture that contains two greens circles can obviously contain difference, one that we don’t have ready abstractions for, i.e. we can’t say how are two greens different. But this is not something unique in cognition. Imagine following…

Michael and Ethan were going through the woods. While they talked, suddenly something moved on the path in front of them, and attracted their attention. They had brief glance at it, before it disappeared between the trees.

    –What was that?

Michael raised his shoulders, and continued with his discontinued sentence.
Later he told his kid about the encounter in the woods.

    –What kind of animal was it?
    -I don’t know.
-said him. –But it was this high, it had brown skin, and big eyes.

Few days after, Michael took his kid for a walk, and while they were walking, something attracted their attention.

    –Is that the animal you saw the other day?
    –No, that is something different.
    -But you said it was that big, brown and had big eyes.
    -Right, but that is not the same animal. It was different

Just as Michael said that, something else attracted their attention…

    –That’s the one we saw! – he announced to his child.


So in this case, we have a situation where

  • something was given to Michael and Ethan (it attracted their attention)
  • Michael recognized difference between what he saw, and what he later saw, based not on abstract things (all the things he could specify about the animal1 were same with that other animal2)

Note:What (I think) is important in this example is that the whole noticing/recognizing of the thing (animal) is done without need for some theoretical understanding of the world. But that will be subject of another post.