From the Looks of Things: The Explanatory Failure of Representationalism
Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Representationalist solutions to the qualia problem are motivated by two fundamental ideas: first, that having an experience consists in tokening a mental representation1; second, that all one is aware of in having an experience is the intentional content of that representation. In particular, one is not aware of any intrinsic features of the representational vehicle itself. For example, when you visually experience a red object, you are aware only of the redness of the object, not any redness or red quale of your experience. You are aware of outer red without being aware of inner red. According to the representationalist, the phenomenal character of your experience is just (an element of) the intentional content of your representation. In effect, inner red just is outer red. For her part, the defender of qualia, or anyway the defender of qualia who will figure in the present discussion, grants that experiencing a red object involves mentally representing it, and that when you have such an experience you are aware of its intentional content. But she denies that that intentional content exhausts your awareness. The defender of qualia (call her ‘Quale’) contends that your mental vehicle is itself mentally or phenomenally red, and that in addition to the outer redness of the object, you are aware of this inner redness, the intrinsic phenomenal character of your representational vehicle. Thus, contra the representationalist (call him ‘Rep’), you are not aware of the content of your representation without being aware of its intrinsic features.|
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