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December 04, 2003

Richard Gregory

Dear Friedrich --

I've been plotting out a lengthy appreciation of the British neuroscientist and philosopher (as I guess he ought to be called) Richard Gregory for 'way too long now. Time to let those plans go and just pass along information instead. So: I think Gregory is a wonderful figure. His specialty has been visual perception, and "how does it occur" has been the main question he's addressed. His interests have led him to spend a lot of time working with and thinking about optical illusions, which he presents as opportunities to sneak in there and have a look around.

Hmm, that sentence may not have been very helpful. Another try: in Gregory's view, optical illusions present wonderful opportunities to investigate vision and perception. Why? Because our vision-perception systems break down when presented with a successful optical illusion. And when bewilderment occurs, perhaps you can crawl inside the stalled system and have yourself a look around. Gregory has come back with many fascinating ideas, observations and hunches about how our brains put together our image of the world.

Of his books, "Eye and Brain" (buyable here) is the best (short, accessible) introduction to his thought; in "Mirrors in Mind" (buyable here), he muses enlighteningly on our fascination with mirrors.

Although he doesn't generally use storytelling as a vehicle for thinking and reflection in the way that Oliver Sacks does, I find that his writing excites my imagination in a similar way. I suspect that anyone who's enjoyed the thinkers we've advocated on this blog (Ramachandran, Salingaros, Dissanayake, Oakeshott, Pinker, Krier, Frederick Turner, Alexander, Polanyi, etc) -- our alternatives to the played-out usual art-world suspects -- would enjoy Gregory a lot. Come of think of it, I'm pretty sure that Gregory was Ramachandran's teacher.

Richard Gregory's website is here. There's an oddball but fun site devoted to him and to some of his optical illusions here.



posted by Michael at December 4, 2003


I found it very interesting to read other peoples comments about your site.

Posted by: FREE PORN on May 29, 2004 7:07 PM

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