On Neonatal Competence: Sleepless nights for representational theorists?

  • Alan Costall
Part of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology book series (AOTP, volume 10)


Some years ago, I tried to capture concisely, if somewhat cryptically, what I felt Gibson’s ecological psychology could do for babies:

[Gibson] takes the view that we have often been too busy seeking solutions to stop and question the problems themselves. His strategy, therefore, is based on their elimination, rather than their resolution, for, he argues, once the appropriate terms for describing perception are employed, the classical puzzles simply disappear. His relevance to infancy research, of course, is in helping psychologists to avoid foisting more problems onto babies than either babies or psychologists really need. (Costali, 1981, p. 32.)


Ecological Approach Direct Perception Visual Cliff Perceptual World Perceptual Development 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barnard, S. T. (1983). Interpreting perspective images. Artificial Intelligence, 21, 435–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benedict, R. (1934). Patterns of culture. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  3. Blakemore, C. (1973a). The baffled braia In R. L. Gregory & E. H. Gombrich (Eds.), Illusion in nature and art (pp. 9–48). London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  4. Blakemore, C. (1973b). Environmental constraints on development in the visual system. In R. A. Hinde & J. Stevenson-Hinde(Eds.), Constraints on learning (pp. 51–74). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Costali, A. P. (1981). On how so much information controls so much behavior: James Gibson’s theory of direct perceptioa In G. Butterworth (Ed.), Infancy and epistemology (pp. 30–51). Brighton: Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  6. Costali, A. P. (1989). A closer look at ‘direct perception’. In A. Gellatly, D. Rogers, & J. A. Sloboda, (Eds.), Cognition and social worlds (pp. 10–21). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cowie, R. (1987a). The new orthodoxy in visual perception: 1. Reassessing what makes environments perceivable. Irish Journal of Psychology, 8, 50–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cowie, R. (1987b). The new orthodoxy in visual perception: 2. Conjectures and doubts about internal processes. Irish Journal of Psychology, 8, 99–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cullen, E. (1957). Adaptations in the kittiwake to cliff-nesting. Ibis, 99, 272–302.Google Scholar
  10. Eddington, A. (1935). The nature of the physical world. London: Dent. [First published in 1928]Google Scholar
  11. Einstein, A., & Infeld, L. (1961). The evolution of physics. Cambridge: University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Fodor, J. A., & Pylyshyn, Z. (1981). How direct is visual perception?: Some reflections on Gibson’s “Ecological Approach.” Cognition, 9, 139–196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Forman, G. (1983). Where’s the action in knowing? Contemporary Psychology, 28, 356–357.Google Scholar
  14. Frisby, J. P. (1979). Seeing: Illusion, brain and mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gelder, B., de (1985). The cognitivist conjuring trick or how development vanished. In C. J. Bailey & R. Harris, (Eds.), Developmental mechanisms of language (pp. 149–166). London: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  16. Gibson, E. J. (1982). The concept of affordances in development: The renascence of functionalism. In W. A. Collins (Ed.), The concept of development: The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, Vol15., (pp. 55–81). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Gibson, J. J. (1950). The perception of the visual world. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
  18. Gibson, J. J. (1966). The senses considered as perceptual systems. Boston: Houghton-MiffliaGoogle Scholar
  19. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton-MiffliaGoogle Scholar
  20. Gibson, J. J., & Gibson, E. J. (1955). Perceptual learning: Differentiation or enrichment? Psychological Review, 62, 32–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gleitman, H. (1986). Psychology, (2nd ed.). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  22. Gregory, R. L. (1974). Concepts and mechanisms of perceptioa London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  23. Helmholtz, H., voa (1962). Treatise on physiological optics, Vol. 3. (Ed. J. P. C. Southall.) New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  24. Henle, M. (1977). The influence of Gestalt psychology in America. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 291, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jerison, H. J. (1985). On the evolution of mind. In D. A. Oakley (Ed.), Brain and mind (pp. 1–12). London: MethueaGoogle Scholar
  26. Katz, D. (1950). Gestalt psychology. London: MethueaGoogle Scholar
  27. Koenigsberger, H. (1906). Hermann von Helmholtz. (F. A. Welby, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lindsay, P., & Norman, D. (1977). Human Information Processing, (2nd ed.). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  29. McLannahan, H. M. C. (1973). Some aspect of the ontogeny of cliff nesting behaviour in the kittiwake (Rissa Trydactyla) and the herring gull (Larus argentatus). Behaviour, 44, 36–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Morgan, M. J. (1977). Molyneux’s question: Vision, touch and the philosophy of perception. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Müller, J. (1964). Of the senses [1838]. Reprinted in W. N. Dember (Ed.), Visual perception: the nineteenth century (pp. 35–70). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  32. Palmer, A. (1987). Cognitivism and computer simulatioa In A. Costali & A. Still, (Eds), Cognitive psychology in question (pp. 55–70). Brighton: Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  33. Pastore, N. (1973). Helmholtz’s ‘Popular lectures on vision’. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 9, 190–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rock, I. (1984). Perception. New York: Scientific American Library.Google Scholar
  35. Routtenberg, A., & Glickman, S. E. (1964). Visual cliff behavior in undomesti-cated rodents, land and aquatic turtles, and cats (Panthera). Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 58, 143–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schiff, W. (1971). The comparative study of sensory and perceptual processes. In J. Elliot (Ed.), Human development and cognitive processes (pp. 171–185). New York: Holt, Rinehart & WinstoaGoogle Scholar
  37. Sherrington, C. (1950). Introduction. In P. Laslett (Ed.), The physical basis of mind (pp. 1–4). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  38. Sutherland, S. (1981). More sight than sound. Nature, 289, 711–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Spalding, D. A. (1873). Instinct with original observations on young animals. Macmillan’s Magazine, 27, 282–293. [Reprinted in J. B. S. Haldane (1954), Introducing Douglas Spalding. British Journal of Animal Behaviour, 2, 1–11.]Google Scholar
  40. Walk, R. D. (1978). Depth perception and experience. In H. Pick & R. D. Walk (Eds.), Perception and experience (pp. 77–103). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Costall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

Personalised recommendations