Intermodal binding awareness

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



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Casey O'Callaghan
Washington University in St. Louis

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The Unity of Consciousness.Tim Bayne - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Sense and Sensibilia.J. L. Austin - 1962 - Oxford University Press USA.
A feature integration theory of attention.Anne Treisman - 1980 - Cognitive Psychology 12:97-136.

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