Full text available as:



This chapter examines the similarities and differences between physical, psychological and virtual realities, and challenges some conventional, implicitly dualist assumptions about how these relate to each other. Virtual realities are not easily understood in either dualist or materialist reductive terms, as they exemplify the reflexive nature of perception. The chapter summarises some of the evidence for this “reflexive model”—and examines some of its consequences for the “hard” problem of consciousness. The chapter then goes on to consider how these realities might relate to some grounding reality or thing-itself, and considers some of the personal and social consequences of becoming increasingly immersed in virtual realities. Although this chapter was published in 1998 and develops work published in 1990, it presents a form of “radical externalism” that anticipates many themes in current (2006) internalism versus externalism debates about the nature of mind. It is also relevant to an understanding of virtual reality “presence.”

Item Type:Book Chapter
Keywords:physical reality, psychological reality, virtual reality, dualism, reductionism, reflexive, perception, thing itself, radical externalism, internalism, presence, perceptual projection
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
Psychology > Perceptual Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Human Computer Interaction
ID Code:4761
Deposited By: Velmans, Professor Max,
Deposited On:08 Apr 2006
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Blauert, J., Spatial Hearing: the Psychophysics of Human Sound Localization, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1983.

Brugger, P., 'Heautoscopy, epilepsy, and suicide', Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 57, 1994, pp. 838-839.

Haber, R.N., 'Twenty years of haunting eidetic imagery: where's the ghost?', Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2, 1979, pp. 583-619.

Kulpe, 0., 'Uber die Objectivirung und Subjectivirung von Sinneseindruken', Philosophische Studien, 19, 1902, pp. 508-536.

Laws, P., 'On the problem of distance hearing and the localization of auditory events inside the head', Dissertation, Technische Hochschule, Aachen. Cited in Blauert, J., Spatial Hearing: the Psychophysics of Human Sound Localization, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, [1972], 1983.

Penfield, W. and Rassmussen,T.B., The Cerebral Cortex of Man, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1950.

Perky, C.W., 'An experimental study of imagination', American Journal of Psychology, 21, 1910, pp. 422-452.

Shepard, R.N., 'Ecological constraints on internal representation: Resonant kinematics of perceiving, imagining, thinking, and dreaming', third James J. Gibson Memorial Lecture given at Cornell University, 2 October 1983.

Sherman, R.A., Phantom Pain, New York, Plenum Publishing Corporation, 1996.

Spanos, N.P., Ham, M.H. and Barber, TX, 'Suggested ("hypnotic") visual hallucinations: experimental and

phenomenological data', Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 81, 1973, pp. 96-106.

Tarnas, R., The Passion of the Western Mind, New York, Ballantyne Books, 1993.

Velmans, M., 'Consciousness, brain, and the physical world', Philosophical Psychology, 3,1990, pp. 77-99.

Velmans, M., 'A reflexive science of consciousness', in Experimental and Theoretical Studies of Consciousness, CIBA Foundation Symposium 174, Chichester, Wiley, 1993, pp. 81 -99.

Velmans, M., 'What and where are conscious experiences?', in Velmans, M. (ed.), The Science of Consciousness: Psychological, Neuropsychological and Clinical Reviews, London, Routledge, 1996.


Repository Staff Only: item control page