The Importance of Defining Spatial Behavioral Parameters

  • Aristide H. Esser


Viewed in the contexts of space and time, all animal behavior is inconspicuous; for only the young or diseased specimens of a species exhibit less than perfect adaptation to their physical environment. Our growing awareness of complex spatial relationships among objects, together with our perception of these relationships, enables us to determine the role they play in our lives.

Most complex relationships are unconsciously determined patterns of action. But the emergence of Mind manifests itself in that precise moment when the structure of these relationships is recognized and primary reality is transformed into experienced reality. In the beginning of man’s evolution, this transformation was accomplished exclusively through real movements. Later with the vertebrate stage of development, imagined or “virtual” movements were able to replace the actual acts. Of course, movement, as an objective given of our world, can only exist in perceptible space. It must be understood that perceptible space differs from species to species, fron individual to individual.

If we were to study the experience of space in humans only, we would have no hope of arriving at essentials; for with Mind, all actions stem from mental images (either images of feelings [qualities] or of space-time relationships). More crucially, our mental images are indirect expressions of the realities which gave rise to them. In addition, mental images are altered; they become stereotyped during maturation. The essentials of spatial experience can only be understood by studying their antecedent history. This Symposium is to put into perspective our present knowledge of the evolution of animal perception of and reaction to space, in the hope of gaining access to those processes essential to our imagery.


Tacit Knowledge Mental Image Real Movement Spatial Experience Perfect Adaptation 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1971

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  • Aristide H. Esser

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