- 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)
Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See Paperback – 12 Apr 2000
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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.
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
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.
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