The Perception of the Visual World.

Boston, etc., Houghton Mifflin, 1950.

4to. Original reddish-brown full cloth with black lettering to spine and front board. A bit of wear to extremities. Several pencil-underlinings in the text (presuambly Postman's). XII, (2), 235, (1), (6, -index) pp. Richly illustrated throughout. With presentation-insription to front free end-paper, as well as Leo Postman's ownership signature.

Excellent presentation-copy of the first edition of the most important work on perception since Helmholtz, Gibson's seminal classic, in which he rejected the theory of behaviorism and pioneered the idea that animals "sampled" information from the "ambient" outside world. Inscribed to Gibson's close friend, professor of psychology Leo Postman, one of the most dominant theoreticians of human memory: "To Leo Postman/ You know all this already/ Jim Gibson".

American psychologist James Jerome Gibson (1904 -1979) is considered one of the most important 20th century psychologists in the field of visual perception. His classic work from 1950, "The Perception of the Visual World", Revolutionized the way of understanding visual perception and was responsible for the turn away from the otherwise dominating behaviorism. It is in this, his pioneering main work, that he presents his revolutionizing idea of animals "sampling" information from the outside world that surrounds them.
Gibson is also famous for coining the term "affordance", which is the quality of an object or an environment that allows for an individual to perform an action (- a for the time unusually Aristotelian way of viewing objects, an example would be a tie which "affords" tying, or a knob that "affords" twisting). As Gibson's theories in psychology in general, the concept of "affordance" has been extremely influential in a large variety of fields: perceptual psychology, cognitive psychology, environmental psychology, industrial design, human-computer interaction (HCI), interaction design, instructional design and artificial intelligence.

"The principal subject of this book is the visual perception of space. The essential question to be asked is this: How do we see the world around us? The question is at once a theoretical one, a factual one, and a practical one. The theories to be considered have to do with the history of philosophy and psychology. The applications extend to art, aviation, photography, and mountain-climbing. This book, however, is not a historical survey of the problem, nor a record of existing facts, nor a discussion of the applications. The intention is to formulate a consistent approach to the problem - a way of getting new facts and making new applications. [...] The writer has elected to study psychophysics rather than psychophysiologybecause he believes that it offers the more promising approach in the present state of our knowledge. [...] A psychophysics may sound to some readers like a contradiction in terms. This book undertakes, however, to justify and make possible such a science. " (Gibson, in the Preface, pp. (vii)-viii).

As is seen from Gibson's own preface, he himself viewed the work as revolutionary, which Hochberg also notes in is piece on Gibson: "I believe [the] book was the most important work on perception since that of Helmholtz's volume three of Physiological Optics, approximately a century earlier. It was a comprehensive approach to the perception of surfaces, things, and movement through the environment, promarily the outcome of his observations and thoughts about the visual task involved in flying and landing aircraft. [...] The book was clearly intended to initiate a revolutionary moment. I believe that intention has, just as clearly, been successful. Some forty years after its publication, the book is still widely cited and controversial, the direct source of substantial current experimental research, and the starting point for more extreme departures from what had been the established way of thinking about perception." (Julian Hochberg, "James Jerome Gibson", in: National Academy of Sciences Biographical memoirs 63, 1994, pp. 155-6).

"LEO JOSEPH POSTMAN, professor emeritus of psychology and a dominant figure in the study of human memory, died on April 22, 2004, of heart failure at his home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He was 85.

Postman was "a major theoretician in the development of the theory of forgetting," said friend and colleague Donald Riley, professor emeritus of psychology. "His contributions were monumental." Postman was listed in a 2002 article in the Review of General Psychology as one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the last century. "Within the field of human memory, the range of his contributions has been vast," wrote one of his former students, Geoffrey Keppel, professor emeritus of psychology, in recommending Postman for the Berkeley Citation. Postman received the award, the highest honor given to University of California, Berkeley faculty and staff, upon his retirement in 1987.
In 1961, Postman founded the Institute of Human Learning at Berkeley, which lives on today as the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, a center devoted to an interdisciplinary study of the mind and the brain.

Postman primarily studied perception, learning, and memory. He participated in the beginnings of the "new look" school of perception that emphasized the role of cognitive factors such as emotions and expectations in determining what people perceive.

His main interest, however, was forgetting. Based on studies he began in 1958, he became known as the principal spokesman for and architect of modern interference theory, the only comprehensive account of forgetting that exists today. The theory, Keppel wrote, holds that forgetting is the result of interference from a variety of sources, including past memories, various aspects of the current memory, and new memories acquired subsequently-that is, a dynamic interaction of the entire memory system, past and present. Postman was sensitive to the weaknesses of the theory, and spent the last part of his career investigating the mechanisms that conserve memory in the face of interference. Much of this research was conducted at the institute he founded and directed until 1977.

Postman, who served as chair of the Department of Psychology for several years in the late 1950s, had a reputation for excellence in teaching, emphasizing clarity and organization.

Born June 7, 1918, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Postman moved at an early age to New York City, obtaining his B.S. from the College of the City of New York in 1943 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1946. He taught at Harvard from 1946 until 1950, interrupted by one year at Indiana University, and joined the Berkeley faculty in 1950.
In his first years at Berkeley, Postman was recognized nationally as a major figure in the field of perception and the role of motivation in perception. His research shifted, however, and he embarked on a long series of studies on learning with and without the intent to learn (the latter being what is referred to as incidental learning). He later switched to the study of forgetting, which he pursued until his retirement.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, he also served in 1968 as president of the Western Psychological Association, and in 1974 received the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists for outstanding achievement in experimental psychology." (Robert Sanders, "In Memoriam. Leo Postman").

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