Synthese 199 (1-2):2525-2551 (2020)

Michael Barkasi
Rice University (PhD)
What’s presented in our normal waking perceptual visual experiences feels present to us, while what we “see” in pictures and imagine does not. What about dreams? Does what we “see” in a dream feel present? Jennifer Windt has argued for an affirmative answer, for all dreams. But the dreams which flow from the brain’s registration of myoclonic twitches present a challenge to this answer. During these dreams motion-guiding vision is shut off, and, as Mohan Matthen has argued, motion-guiding vision seems to be a key mechanism underlying the feeling of presence. I propose that the feeling of presence in fact involves two components: the feeling of immersion, and the feeling of availability for action. I suggest that only the feeling of availability for action derives from motion-guiding vision, and, hence, hypothesize that body-driven dreams lack this component to the feeling of presence. Finally, the distinction between these two varieties of presence has implications for measures of presence in virtual environments, as these measures can diverge over which of the two varieties they track.
Keywords Presence  Dreams  Myoclonic twitches  motion-guiding vision  virtual environments
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02898-4
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