Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wilkins on Pattern Recognition

John Wilkins has an interesting post in which he argues that pattern recognition is neither induction nor deduction. His penultimate paragraph:
For a half century or more we have had the view that observation is theory laden. As I have argued before... observation need not be laden with theory of the domain under investigation. And what evolution has bequeathed need not be in the slightest theoretical, nor even reliable (as the massive literature on illusions shows us). We can naively observe things that we know little about, but we never start knowing, or at least being disposed to know, nothing.
Where Wilkins talks of observation, I talk of description. As I have said in various posts, what literary studies needs these days is more and better descriptive work. Only when we have such descriptions in hand can we craft proper theories of literature and how it works in the mind and society.

Addendum 29 Jan: I note that the discussion after the post has a number of interesting comments.

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