Emotion, perception, and relativism in vision
I defend a position in which affective and emotional reactions are incorporated into visual representations. Such incorporation allows affect, emotion and perception to operate together in a more efficient manner than other accounts. It is also consistent with developing thinking on brain structure and functionality. In this account, emotions are constructed by an individual based on cultural and societal factors: within these constraints, emotions emerge from affective reactions by a conceptualisation of those reactions — states of affairs and affective reactions are matched with existing emotion concepts. Emergent emotions form part of the information used at the earliest stages in building a visual representation (a specific neural pathway has been identified), so that emotion information is incorporated into the visual representation. This is relativism in vision. I show that societies sharing very broadly a similar set of values will share a very broadly similar set of emotion concepts and emotional reactions, so that affect- and emotion-based variations in representations will be small enough to be either unnoticed or explained away. Concerns about relativism in vision generally are groundless: vision cannot be subject to whim and fancy, as societal factors constrain the degree to which variations in visual perception may occur. This is not the case when two cultures with materially different cultural values and hence emotions meet, such as in Australia, where traditional Australian Aborigines rub shoulders with their Anglo-European counterparts. Here visual perception may be sufficiently different between the two groups that detailed, fine-grained communication will be hampered, which may be an additional factor contributing to the difficulty of effective cross-cultural provision of mental health services in Australia.