The Phenomenology of Embodied Agency

For the last 20 years or so, philosophers of mind have been using the term ‘qualia’, which is frequently glossed as standing for the “what-it-is-like” of experience. The examples of what-it-is-like that are typically given are feelings of pain or itches, and color and sound sensations. This suggests an identification of the experiential what-it-islike with such states. More recently, philosophers have begun speaking of the “phenomenology“ of experience, which they have also glossed as “what-it-is-like”. Many say, for example, that any acceptable materialism—or any acceptable account of the relation of mind and body—must “respect the phenomenology.”1 Typically, no examples beyond those mentioned in the first paragraph are offered. This suggests that the picture of the phenomenology that ”must be respected” is the what-it-is-like of bodily sensations, of sensations that occur in perception, and perhaps of certain analogous nonperceptual states, such as imaginings and image-like rememberings. According to the suggested picture, all there is to phenomenology is such states; intentional mental states—as such— have no phenomenology; there is nothing that it is like to undergo them. Although beliefs and desires are intentionally directed—i.e., they have aboutness—these mental states allegedly are not inherently phenomenal. On this view, there is nothing that it is like to be..
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