Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Kant and mirror neurons and affordances

I was reading Kant's Critique of Judgment or rather some sections of it and some passages made me think of mirror neurons. It seems like the discovery of mirror neurons can explain the problem Kant brings up, that is, the subjective universal communicability of mental states without concepts. Of course he mentions this phenomena only in reference to judgments of taste and what is beautiful but still his was quite a brilliant idea if you ask me.
As I was reading Kant I also thought that Kant's idea that the 'purposiveness' of an object is not a matter of the characteristics of that object but a function of the subject perceiving the object, their sensations and needs, was akin to Gibson's notion of affordances, which is based on the idea that what something affords is a function of both the perceiver and the perceived. I like Gibson's idea which is more bidirectional than Kant's idea and definitely does not imprison one into subjectivity like Fichte. Interestingly enough even Hume, one of the great skeptics leave room for the object contributing to perception in The Standard of Taste and writes

Though it be certain, that beauty and deformity, more than sweet and bitter, are not qualities in objects, but belong entirely to the sentiment, internal or external, it must be allowed, that there are certain qualities in objects, which are fitted by nature to produce those particular feelings.
 while Fichte says
I do not hunger for food because it is laid beside me; because I hunger, the object becomes food
Hume, Kant, Fichte...who else I wonder had an idea similar to Gibson's affordances. Any thoughts, suggestions?


  1. For the record I stumbled on this page from a Google search on "mirror neurons" and Kant because I thought the same thing and wanted to see if anyone else had too :)

    1. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear that I'm not alone in seeing a connection between the two.