Monthly Archives: September 2016

Kahn Fellowship: Shaping perception

I’m about to start a fellowship at the Kahn Institute at Smith College. It is part of a project called “Shaping Perception” (for more information). What I hope to accomplish in this fellowship is a complete first draft of a monograph presenting a model of speech perception.

As I’ve noted in one earlier post, the model is being developed in opposition to a direct realist model of speech perception, as developed by Carol Fowler and others. As also noted in that post, a direct realist model of perception shares the assumption of other extended cognition models that much cognitive activity takes place outside the head in the world where perceived events occur. For speech sounds, direct realist and extended cognition models assume that the acoustics of the speech signal are information about the articulations that produced them. In the auditorist alternative that I espouse, the acoustic properties are not and cannot be informative when they’re out in the world, but only once they’re inside the perceiver’s head and have transformed into auditory qualities that can be evaluated by a linguistically informed nervous system.

Because models of extended cognition, and likewise models of embodied cognition share many assumptions with Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, I expect to be spending  a good part of this fellowship year getting a better understanding of their work, too.