Publication 782

McGann M. (2010) Perceptual modalities: Modes of presentation or modes of interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies 17: 72–94. Fulltext at
Perceptual modalities have been traditionally considered the product of dedicated biological systems producing information for higher cognitive processing. Psychological and neuropsychological evidence is offered which undermines this point of view and an alternative account of modality from the enactive approach to understanding cognition is suggested. Under this view, a perceptual modality is a stable form of perception which is structured not just by the biological sensitivities of the agent, but by their goals and the set of skills or expertise which they are deploying at a given time. Such a view suggests that there is no such thing as an experience that is purely visual, auditory, or otherwise modal and that our attempts to understand consciousness and the mind must be conducted within a framework that provides an account of embodied, goal-directed adaptive coping with the world. Relevance: This paper provides an enactive analysis of perceptual modality, and argues for a more constructivist view of how consciousness is analysed, specifically according to the skilled activities in which an agent is engaged.


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