What Makes Something a Distinct Object?

Let me look at the envelope from a very basic point of view, that of the neurophysiology of raw perception itself. Forgive me if it’s a bit oversimple. Take me-on the back of your retina I’m upside down, focused at the center but fuzzy at the edges, two-dimensional, a barrage of photons releasing rhodopsin and triggering neural impulses along the visual nerve. At the same time, the pressure wave I’m setting up right now with all this talk is causing little hairs inside the cochlea, in your inner ear, to shake around and send neural impulses into your brain. At no level am I aurally or visually more than a complicated version of the same neural impulse you’d get if you scratched yourself.

So what is it that makes all that mush me? After all, you’ve never met me before, and yet here I am, identified by you with absolute certainty as a human being, male, standing more or less upright, talking, and doing all the other things you’ve already recognized. What accomplishes that recognition job for you is your cognitive model. This is the construct, both experiential and genetic in origin, that you use to check up on all the separate bits of me and everything else you experience, mentally and physically, for identification purposes. You are using a recognition system made up of dedicated cells, each one firing in reaction to the one highly specific bit of detail it’s built to react to.


Our perceptions are built on photons hitting our retinas and pressure variations tickling the folicles in our cochleas... so how does all that become something distinct in our mind's eye?

Folksonomies: perception

/health and fitness/disorders/mental disorder/panic and anxiety (0.525838)
/health and fitness/disease/deafness (0.500084)
/health and fitness/disease/epilepsy (0.490513)

neural impulses (0.943198 (negative:-0.604648)), neural impulse (0.824269 (positive:0.300153)), raw perception (0.819615 (negative:-0.705772)), basic point (0.806386 (positive:0.777236)), bit oversimple (0.803508 (neutral:0.000000)), little hairs (0.793569 (negative:-0.577674)), mush me? (0.790041 (positive:0.426371)), complicated version (0.789039 (negative:-0.491109)), visual nerve (0.783198 (negative:-0.748974)), absolute certainty (0.780248 (positive:0.563784)), inner ear (0.762931 (neutral:0.000000)), cognitive model (0.748837 (neutral:0.000000)), pressure wave (0.745798 (positive:0.254292)), specific bit (0.745294 (neutral:0.000000)), separate bits (0.743544 (neutral:0.000000)), dedicated cells (0.736852 (positive:0.391312)), identification purposes (0.731129 (positive:0.260167)), recognition job (0.729350 (positive:0.790915)), pressure variations (0.718656 (neutral:0.000000)), photons (0.630543 (negative:-0.550440)), cochlea (0.509363 (negative:-0.577674)), retinas (0.505370 (neutral:0.000000)), barrage (0.501574 (negative:-0.550440)), neurophysiology (0.498647 (negative:-0.705772)), retina (0.490755 (neutral:0.000000)), edges (0.487875 (negative:-0.503968)), envelope (0.487550 (positive:0.777236)), fuzzy (0.478049 (negative:-0.503968)), perceptions (0.476217 (neutral:0.000000)), construct (0.474101 (neutral:0.000000))

Cognition (0.980598): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Brain (0.708740): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Inner ear (0.696581): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Psychology (0.640563): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Physics (0.563639): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Visual system (0.548373): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Retina (0.543276): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Sense (0.540883): dbpedia | freebase

 The Legacy of Science
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Burke, James (1985), The Legacy of Science, Langley Research Center, Washington, DC, Retrieved on 2011-06-19
  • Source Material [history.nasa.gov]
  • Folksonomies: science society progress