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.

2 thoughts on “The given in the woods

  1. One doesn’t have to have a theoretical understanding to catch something that attracted his attention. A child may dare to stroke a mountain cat not recognizing what it might do. If it growls in anger or snarls the child will back off becase he can sense something unusual or potentially dangerous is before him. The beast has communicated at the gut level what it intended,”Back off!” .
    a child already is programmed to respond to the external world. It can already recognize its mother since in the womb it already is impressed with experience. Then the matter of Jungian collective experience: it is already in place. But to make a proper use of it would need time.
    A bushman who has never seen a white man shall know it is a man that stands in his path. . Maybe he cannot distinguish if his pith helmet is put on or an extension of his head.

  2. Benny,

    I agree. I wanted to present a clear situation where theoretical understanding is not needed. Same case is when you look at the two greens in the other post. In those cases what attracts the attention, and the difference is there in the perception no matter what kind of theories we have about the world.
    This is for sure one of the bases of the human concepts… the things we can notice and recognize. However not all the concepts are “notice/recognize later”, and require theoretical understanding…
    I will write about this in another post.

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