Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Evolutionary Approach: Perceptual Adaptations
Donald H. McBurney
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of cameras who considers the anatomy of the eye can understand that its purpose is to gather light and focus it on the retina. The eye is the “poster child” for evolution of the human body by natural selection. Yet the implications of evolution for perception are often overlooked. The various senses evolved to serve the survival and reproduction of organisms. This entry discusses how attention to these functions helps us understand perception. Because philosophy was such an important part of the history of perception, it is often said that the purpose of perception is to gain knowledge. But long before there were philosophers, people had to move about in space without bumping into things, decide what is edible, swallow food without choking, and find their way home. Thus, perception is first of all for action. For example, we are much better at moving about ...