In David J. Bennett & Christopher S. Hill (eds.), Sensory Integration and the Unity of Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 73-103 (2014)

Casey O'Callaghan
Washington University in St. Louis
It is tempting to hold that perceptual experience amounts to a co-conscious collection of visual, auditory, tactual, gustatory, and olfactory episodes. If so, each aspect of perceptual experience on each occasion is associated with a specific modality. This paper, however, concerns a core variety of multimodal perceptual experience. It argues that there is perceptually apparent intermodal feature binding. I present the case for this claim, explain its consequences for theorizing about perceptual experience, and defend it against objections. I maintain that just as one thing may perceptually appear at once to jointly bear several features associated with the same sense modality, one thing also may perceptually appear at once to jointly bear features associated with different sense modalities. For instance, just as something may visually appear at once to be both red and round, or to have a red part and a green part, something may multimodally perceptually appear at once to be both bright and loud, or to have a red part and a rough part. The main lesson, I argue, is that perceiving is not just co-consciously seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling at the same time. And perceptual phenomenal character is not on each occasion exhausted by that which is distinctive to or associated with a given modality, along with that which accrues thanks to simple co-consciousness. Not all ways of perceiving are modality specific. I defend this account against three main objections: that singular content theorists avoid my conclusions; that apparent infusion of perceptible features is required for perceptually apparent binding but does not occur intermodally; and that the diversity of objects across modalities makes perceptually apparent intermodal binding rare.
Keywords perception  objects  multimodal  binding
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2014, 2015
Buy the book Find it on
DOI 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027786.003.0004
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,913
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Feature Integration Theory of Attention.Anne Treisman - 1980 - Cognitive Psychology 12:97-136.
The Unity of Consciousness.Tim Bayne - 2010 - Oxford University Press UK.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Conscious Action/Zombie Action.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):419-444.
A Theory of Perceptual Objects.E. J. Green - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):663-693.
Grades of Multisensory Awareness.Casey O'Callaghan - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (2):155-181.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Not All Perceptual Experience is Modality Specific.Casey O'Callaghan - 2015 - In Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen & Stephen Biggs (eds.), Perception and Its Modalities. Oxford University Press. pp. 133-165.
(Dis)Solving the Binding Problem.James W. Garson - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (4):381 – 392.
The Multimodal Experience of Art.Bence Nanay - 2012 - British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (4):353-363.
Speech Perception.Casey O'Callaghan - 2015 - In Mohan Matthen (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception. Oxford University Press.
Some Logical Features of Feature Integration.Austen Clark - 2001 - In Werner Backhaus (ed.), Neuronal Coding of Perceptual Systems. World Scientific. pp. 3-20.
Unifying by Binding: Will Binding Really Bind?Jörn Diedrichsen & Eliot Hazeltine - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):884-885.
Against Hearing Meanings.Casey O'Callaghan - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):783-807.
Binding, Spatial Attention and Perceptual Awareness.Lynn C. Robertson - 2003 - Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4 (2):93-102.
What is Conscious Attention?Wayne Wu - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):93-120.
Binding and the Phenomenal Unity of Consciousness.Antti Revonsuo - 1999 - Consciousness and Cognition 8 (2):173-85.


Added to PP index

Total views
86 ( #115,769 of 2,409,599 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #122,742 of 2,409,599 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes