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What Comes Before Psychophysics? The Problem Of `What We Perceive' And The Phenomenological Exploration Of New Effects

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Chapter Summary

The psychophysical methods were developed by Fechner to find out the perceptual threshold of a stimulus, that is, the weakest stimulus that could be perceived. In order to define what we perceive it is also necessary to define what we can perceive within the multiplicity of possible visual outcomes and how they are reciprocally organized. The main purpose of this chapter is to place the two approaches side by side so that they complement each other: the phenomenological exploration complements the quantitative psychophysical measurement of the qualities that emerge through the preliminary exploration. To demonstrate the basic role played by the phenomenological exploration in complementing the psychophysical investigation the chapter introduces three critical visual conditions, called visual gradient of perceptibility, perceptible invisibility and visual levels of perceptibility. Through these conditions several new illusions are studied and some phenomenological rules are suggested.

Keywords: perceptual threshold; phenomenology; psychophysics; visual illusions



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