Shadows on the Mirror

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After reading English at Newcastle University, she did various odd jobs before enrolling in a law course in the Midlands. But it didn't interest her enough to continue and she moved to London where she was a shop assistant at Fenwicks and theatre dresser at the Coliseum. Fyfield eventually did finish her law qualifications and got a job as a solicitor to work with the Metropolitan Police.

She has worked as prosecutor for both the Metropolitan Police as well as the Crime Prosecution Service. Fyfield is the author of more than seven suspense novels, including Shadow Play and Without Consent. This is not to deny that there is a sense in which seeing is egocentric. Seeing always presents the world to us from a particular vantage point, rather than an impartial God-view. This is true as much in the case of photographs and the prosthetic eye as in cases of normal vision.

A second upshot of the prosthetic eye example is to illuminate some restrictions on the connection between seeing and action. Once your prosthetic eyes have been stolen, your seeing a tiger will not guide you in running away from the tiger. Your desire to see some writing more clearly will not guide you in moving closer to the text. But there are weaker senses in which our examples are compatible with a connection between seeing and action. Susanna Schellenberg argues to this effect.

FPS Don't draw mesh, do draw shadows, but mesh needs to be drawn on mirror material.

My prosthetic eye example does not show that an agent whose sensory organs had always been disconnected from their body action-potential would be able to see. Another possible restriction on seeing, which is compatible with the remote prosthetic eye examples, is that perceivers understand how their perceptions would change if their sense organs were moved. If someone were to pick up my prosthetic eyes and shift their relation to a teacup, I would not be surprised to find that the formerly circular-looking lip of a teacup now looked elliptical; nor would I be inclined to think that the shape of the cup had shifted.

My reactions as I watch television are similar. When the camera moves in relation to a cup, I am not inclined to think that the cup has changed shape, but rather that the camera like the prosthetic eye has shifted position. So these weaker connections between perception and action are not threatened by our discussion. When I see my family through a photograph, I can be visually aware of two things: my family, and the photograph.

Perhaps this duality precludes seeing. Imagine a creature who has introspective access to its visual cortex. It is able to consciously introspect and attend to the information that passes from its retina to its brain. We want to say that not only can it see, it also has the capacity to reflect on the causal stream that makes vision possible.

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Rather, our awareness of O is dependent on a conscious awareness of the image. But is it true that when I see my family in a photograph, my awareness of my family is dependent on a conscious awareness of the image? I look through my office window to the tree outside. I see the tree. But I can also attend solely to the scene reflected, so that this is all that I am consciously aware of. One might, in some sense, take this to involve an awareness of the light even if it is not conceptualized as such.

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But this cannot help us to distinguish seeing through mirrors and photographs from uncontroversial cases of seeing. When I look at my cat, see him only because my brain is responsive to the image projected onto my retina. But this poses no barrier to seeing in uncontroversial cases. The arguments I have offered take the following structure: 1 Present a series of cases, starting with uncontroversial cases of seeing.

One might object to the structure of these arguments, particularly to the move from 2 to 3. A single molecule of H 2 O is not a liquid.


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But if you add another molecule, then another … eventually you get something that is a liquid. These differences in degree add up to a difference in kind. Again, differences in degree add up to a difference in kind. Perhaps a simple causal mechanism can facilitate seeing, but if it gets too complex, it can no longer facilitate seeing. Perhaps a small time lag is acceptable, but once the time lag is too great—perhaps too great relative to the distance between the observer and the object—we can no longer count as seeing the object.

First, there are cases of vague predicates e. In these cases, every difference in degree makes a small difference, and enough small differences add up to a big difference. Each step you take away from the clear-cut case of baldness makes the person less bald. But in the cases involving seeing e. But not all cases involving small steps along a dimension are like this.

While each step along the continuum makes a difference to how acute the angle is, it is not the case that these small steps add up to a difference in kind. Most of the steps along the continuum are irrelevant to whether an angle is acute. Might seeing be understood on this model: as standing along a continuum of subtly different cases, where only particular step s along the continuum make the difference between seeing and not-seeing?

And to search for such a difference is precisely the task this paper has pursued. A third sort of case in which differences in degree yield a difference in kind involves emergent properties. Nevertheless, these differences in degree add up to a difference in kind. A final challenge comes from shadows. Can we grant this intuition? Imagine that a shadow is projected onto the floor. The floor in a sense functions just as a mirror: A mirror is an intermediary in transferring information about the object. In the mirror, this information is given in the form of what light is reflected by the object.

The floor likewise functions as an intermediary in transferring information about the object. It seems the only differences between the cases of shadows and reflections are 1 whether the information about the object is transferred by way of light reflectance or light blockage, and 2 the richness of the information about the object which in the case of shadows reveals only outlines of opacity. I see in a fog despite the lack of detail; I see my desk when the room is dark, despite the fact that the colors are completely washed out by darkness and all I can pick out are outlines of comparative brightness.

If this were right, the difference between mirrors and shadows would come before the point at which light hits the mirror or the ground—it would be the sort of information that was initially transferred that distinguished them. First, privileging information transmitted by light reflection seems like quite an arbitrary way of carving a line between seeing and not-seeing. Suppose that these creatures live in a highly reflective environment and their eyes emit white light.

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Their brains are wired to detect color, but color is processed in terms of absences-of-reflection of wavelengths. When a hunter sees the silhouette of a moose standing on a mountain, backlit by the moon, we think that the hunter sees the moose. But silhouettes, like shadows, relay information by way light blockage. Suppose that you are looking at a mirror image of a chessboard.

You intuitively see the chessboard through the mirror: equally seeing the black pieces and the white pieces. But while you are seeing the white pieces by virtue of their reflection —the light is positively reflected off of them—you are seeing the black pieces by virtue of their failure to reflect light.

We might hope that his work could offer a way of carving shadows off from reflections, silhouettes, and the like. There are several interrelated arguments that might be found in Sorensen. The first argument starts from the idea that we can only see objects by seeing their parts. So we can see objects by seeing silhouettes. By contrast, shadows are not parts of their objects—we can change a shadow without changing the object say, by putting another object in between the object and the light source.

So we cannot see objects by seeing shadows. We can quickly set this argument aside. Everyone can agree that shadows are not parts of objects, but this is beside the point. If shadows facilitate seeing objects, they do so in the sense that our retinae facilitate seeing objects. Our retinae are not parts of the objects that we see, though they enable us to see parts and so to see objects.

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When one ball hits another, causing the second to roll away, this is a causal process. But the shadow of the one ball hitting the other, and the second ball rolling away is not. Silhouettes, we might think, are different insofar as they are actually parts of their objects. When we see the silhouette of one ball hitting another, and the second rolling off, we are seeing via a genuine causal process, and so if we can only see objects via genuine causal processes we can see objects by seeing their silhouettes, but not by seeing their shadows.

The mechanism that allows us to see in uncontroversial cases of seeing crucially makes use of our retinae. But the light patterns hitting our retinae—like the patterns of darkness hitting the floor in a shadow—are an epiphenomenon caused by changing conditions in the world. But there is perhaps a more sophisticated development of this argument, building on the idea that seeing essentially requires tracking a causal process. Suppose Mary stabs Bob, leaving a knife sticking out of his chest. This is a causal process. Here one might object that we could create the same sort of deception with a silhouette standing with a knife in the appropriate position behind Bob.

The reply must be something like this: In the case of the shadow, our careful positioning of the knife has literally changed the shadow. Thus, the knife positioning merely creates the illusion that Bob has been stabbed in the chest. So I can see Bob by seeing the illusory silhouette.