Journal of Consciousness Studies 23 (9-10):50-65 (2016)

Jonathan Farrell
University of Manchester
‘What it is like’ talk (‘WIL-talk’) — the use of phrases such as ‘what it is like’ — is ubiquitous in discussions of phenomenal consciousness. It is used to define, make claims about, and to offer arguments concerning consciousness. But what this talk means is unclear, as is how it means what it does: how, by putting these words in this order, we communicate something about consciousness. Without a good account of WIL-talk, we cannot be sure this talk sheds light, rather than casts shadows, on our investigations of consciousness. The popular technical account of WIL-talk (see e.g. Lewis, 1995, and Kim, 1998) holds that WIL-talk involves technical terms — terms which look like everyday words but have a distinct meaning — introduced by philosophers. I argue that this account is incorrect by showing that the alleged technical terms were not introduced by philosophers, and that these terms do not have a technical meaning.
Keywords ‘what it is like’  phenomenal consciousness  technical terms  Nagel
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References found in this work BETA

The Contents of Visual Experience.Susanna Siegel - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
The Character of Consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat.Thomas Nagel - 1974 - E-Journal Philosophie der Psychologie 5.

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