Is the Experience of Pain Transparent? Introspecting Phenomenal Qualities

Synthese:1-32 (2017)
Murat Aydede
University of British Columbia
I distinguish between two claims of transparency of experiences. One claim is weaker and supported by phenomenological evidence. This I call the Transparency Datum. Introspection of standard perceptual experiences as well as bodily sensations is consistent with, indeed supported by, the Transparency Datum. I formulate a stronger transparency thesis that is entailed by (strong) representationalism about experiential phenomenology. I point out some empirical consequences of strong transparency in the context of representationalism. I argue that pain experiences, as well as some other similar experiences like itches, tickles, orgasms, hedonic valence, etc., are not transparent in this strong sense. Hence they constitute empirical counterexamples to representationalism. Given that representationalism is a general metaphysical doctrine about all experiential phenomenology for good reasons, I conclude that representationalism about phenomenal consciousness is false. Then, I outline a general framework about how the introspection of phenomenal qualities works in light of the Transparency Datum, but consistent with the rejection of strong transparency. The result is a form of qualia realism that is naturalist and intentionalist (weak representationalist), and has close affinities to the adverbialist views developed in the latter part of the last century. I then apply this framework to pain experiences and their bodily locations.
Keywords pain  transparency  introspection  phenomenal qualities  representationalism  bodily sensations  conscious experience  adverbialism  qualia realism  perceptual experience
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1528-3
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