Stability: A Constant Problem

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(10), 730–731. Reviews the book, Stability and Constancy in Visual Perception: Mechanisms and Processes edited by William Epstein (1977). Epstein's brief historical introduction is a useful summary of the three points of view that have almost always dominated thought about the constancies. These are the learning theories (e.g., Berkeley's notion that touch educates vision), the algorithm approach (eg, the size-distance invariance hypothesis which was already implicit in the work of Descartes) and the so-called psychophysical approach (some aspect of retinal stimulation remains invariant when perception remains invariant, as in Gibson's theory). These three points of view are not mutually exclusive. Thus, one may find both the learning and algorithm approaches in Helmholtz. The progress competently delineated by the various articles in this book can be viewed within these three frameworks. Thus, Ebenholtz's treatment of the constancy of object orientation is explicitly described as an algorithm processing approach. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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