Perceptual Representation and Reasoning

B. Chandrasekaran and N. H. Narayanan

A common view of reasoning in cognitive science is that it is a process that operates on abstract sentential representations. This view implies a separation of reasoning from sensory perception. Consequently, the study of perception has proceeded relatively independently of the study of various reasoning strategies that humans employ. In this paper we argue that there are many commonsense situations in which human reasoning is tightly coupled with perception, in particular with perceptually represented experiential knowledge. This type of reasoning is referred to as perceptual reasoning. This idea is based on a proposal about representations and supporting mechanisms that underlie visual perception and imagery. Perceptual reasoning is explained in terms of experientially acquired perceptual inference rules. Finally, the implications of this stance are discussed.


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