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Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See Paperback – 12 Apr 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (12 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393319679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393319675
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Visual intelligence, cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman writes, is the power that people use to "construct an experience of objects out of colours, lines, and motions." And what an underappreciated ability it is, too; despite the fact that the visual process uses up a considerable chunk of our brainpower, we're only just learning how it works. Hoffman aptly demonstrates the mysterious constructive powers of our eye-brain machines using lots of simple drawings and diagrams to illustrate basic rules of the visual road. Many of the examples are familiar optical illusions--perspective-confounding cubes, a few lines that add up to a more complex shape than seems right. Hoffman also takes a cue from Oliver Sacks, employing anecdotes about people with various specific visual malfunctions to both further his mechanical explanation of visual intelligence and drive home how important this little-understood aspect of cognition can be in our lives. An especially intriguing example involves a boy, blind from birth, who is surgically given the power to see. At first, he is completely unable to visually distinguish objects familiar by touch, such as the cat and the dog. Other poignant examples show clearly how image construction is normally linked to our emotional well-being and sense of place. Visual Intelligence is a fascinating, confounding look (as it were) at an aspect of human physiology and psychology that very few of us think about much at all. --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Artists as well as pundits of perception could gain a lot from [this] book..." -- Richard Gregory, The Times Literary Supplement

"[Donald Hoffman] combines a deep understanding of the logic of perception, a gift for explaining it with simple displays that anyone can-quite literally-see, and a refreshing sense of wonder at the miracle of it all." -- Steven Pinker

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Format: Paperback
This is a ground breaking book. Hoffman proposes that seeing is a creative act of intelligence and that we literally create the visual world we live in. He explains, with persuasive clarity, that this ability is innate. We are born visually competent and that all we need to acquire visual skill is to see. Seeing is not something we learn to do, it is something we grow to do.
Hoffman shows that the image at the eye is two dimensional, not, as many people believe, three dimensional. He further shows that the visual cortex, according to certain rules, converts that 2D image into a 3D image. Hoffman describes these rules simply and clearly and with more than ample illustration. In all Hoffman describes 35 rules, most of which concern how we convert a 2D image at the retina into a 3D image in the brain. He also deals with some aspects of seeing motion.
In many ways Visual Intelligence makes a break with the traditional ways of dealing with visual perception. He comes at it from cognitive science rather than the older perspectives of psychology. For this reason this book is both powerful and up to date. Although Hoffman makes only passing reference to visual art what he has to say about how we see is hugely relevant to the work of artists who work in 2D media.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice item
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 26 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably more work than most people will give to a casual read but would be great for a high school or undergraduate seminar 21 Dec. 2016
By J. Sweeney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting, provocative, and well-written. Probably more work than most people will give to a casual read but would be great for a high school or undergraduate seminar. Every art teacher would benefit from weaving these ideas into their courses. Many, many connections to other topics; artificial intelligence, jurisprudence, cultural competence, etc. A great first step on the road to understanding how we co-construct our reality.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Look at the World Differently After Reading This Book 4 Oct. 2011
By Shoshanaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read and re-read this book at least 4 times over the past five or six years. Each time I seem to gain new understanding into the processes that we use to sense the world around us. While this book clearly focuses on visual perception, the over-riding concept, that we construct the world we experience, applies to all our senses. While I doubt that I will make practical use of the specific rules he carefully lays out on how we actually make those visual constructions, I found the concepts fascinating. He writes clearly and presents excellent examples. I highly recommend the book and wish there were a follow-on with new and additional research in the area.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How our senses create reality 6 Nov. 2006
By Taylor Ellwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got turned onto this book in graduate school, but never got around to reading it until now. But having read it, I'd have to say it's a fascinating book about vision and the cognitive functions of the brain that help people construct what they see. The author also briefly discusses the sense of touch and how it constructs reality, but the main focus is on vision.

What I really liked was the explanation behind optical illusions. I didn't agree with everything the author wrote, because I found with some of the exercises that my experiences differed from his. Yet what this book does show is that what we see isn't always he objective reality we'd like it to be...in fact rarely, at least through our senses, is reality objective.

If there's one complaint I had, it was that he purposely chose to leave out the citations. Granted he drew on a lot of work, but it'd be nice to trace his sources and the context of those sources. That said I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how our senses help us construct reality.
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening! Brings fact and clarity to the subject ... 1 Jan. 2017
By Richard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eye opening! Brings fact and clarity to the subject of our ability to process things visually. How we see what we think we see differs from what we assume or were taught. Removes some of the fog from our understanding of how humans see things.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book by an excellent professor 20 April 2016
By Wookie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I took a class with Dr. Hoffman at the University of California, Irvine, and this book doesn't even scratch the surface of how smart this guy is. Dr. Hoffman showed us some of the mathematical equations he used to verify the theories in this book and they are flawless.
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