Object Constancy

To the brain’s eye, the same object appears different according to illumination, distance, and point of view. Our mind’s eye unites these various viewpoints into a single conceptual image “out there”- a process that psychologists call object constancy. The story of the blind men and the elephant points to an apparent failure of object constancy: separate impressions of “the elephant” do not coalesce into a single image for the blind men. The elephant appears as a wall, snake, fan, or tree, depending on which part each man has hold of. Each insists exclusively on his own point of view until, in most versions, a child comes along who sees the whole picture.1

  1. (Nick Herbert, Elemental Mind, p.229, pub. A.D. 1993 []
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