Qualitative phenomena are central to perceptual experience. Yet, in perceptual science we have almost exclusively focussed on establishing the quantitative relationship of perceptual judgements with conceptually specified physical attributes. This lapse is significant since almost no part of natural perception has an immediate quantitative nature.
The information we receive of the environment around us through our percept is at some level of description, subjective, and more importantly, subjectively integrated. It is characterized by secondary, tertiary, expressive, and dispositional qualities that are of great importance for both our survival and for the ecological perception of a scene. Perception enables us to identify specific kinds of objects as well as to visually apprehend a wide variety of properties of the objects that go far beyond purely visual or primary physical attributes, incorporating tertiary and expressive qualities, or qualities with a demand character such as attraction or avoidance. It is therefore advisable to accompany analysis of the physical components of perception, which is of great computational efficacy, with descriptive analysis of its ‘perceptual quality’, as a first step towards its possible implementation and computation matching a specific concept of information. The first step consists in individuating the (so-called representational) primitives of qualitative perception like ‘surface’, ‘dynamic structures of event’, ‘ambient illumination’, etc., their free parameters like ‘colour’, ‘texture’, ‘depth’, ‘orientation’, etc., and their laws of organization as well. This approach to the primitives of perception, however, does not exclude at all their measurement in quantitative terms. Qualities have inherent intensity and extensity which are imminently measurable once identified, as demonstrated, for example, in the qualitative space of colour opponency.
The workshop aims to work toward framing a descriptive theory that identifies the specific components of the phenomenal level, finding the relationships among perceptual experience, stimuli, and neuronal elaboration in terms of a new theory of qualitative information, and then looking for a suitable type of metric or quantitative framework for its modelling.