DOI: 10.14704/nq.2018.16.10.1872

Hoffman’s Interface Theory from a Bio-Psychological Perspective

Franz Klaus Jansen


Hoffman’s interface theory of perception proposes that natural selection is based on icons, which are assessed on the basis of their value for species fitness and have no resemblance to real objects. According to this perspective, perception of truth concerning objects has no value for ensuring the species’ survival. The whole truth can only be grasped if all underlying physical factors creating icons of conscious perception are known. However, knowledge of whole truth as well as partial truth is rejected by the theory. Yet, from a bio-psychological perspective, the theory has some important limitations. Perception limited to partial truth would also be adapted for fitness-based evolutionary selection, as it would result in the enhancement of the existing or the creation of new functions of sense organs. Although Hoffman’s interface theory does not treat sense organs as physical objects, their functions in consciousness are recognized. Symbolic icons on the computer screen lack any veridical representation of the manner in which the data is stored in the computer memory, but are valuable tools in accessing the relevant content. In contrast icons representing images maintain a direct relation to their stored image. Evolutionary selection over many generations is thought to create icons for increasing fitness. However, icons created in the distant past become fixed and cannot be adapted to the rapid changes during an individual learning process necessary for adaption to unexpected new situations. Human inventions of new objects would also be rendered impossible if icons were solely dependent on evolutionary selection in the distant past. The interface theory is based on quantum mechanical concepts, which are extrapolated from the atomocosm to the macrocosm, but do not consider the Heisenberg cut. The interface approach may be adequate for lower-level organisms, but results in oversimplification when applied to the highly complex human perception.


Interface theory; truth; fitness; evolution; reality

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