Some Thoughts About Thinking About Consciousness

Diana Raffman
University of Toronto at Mississauga
David Papineau’s Thinking About Consciousness tells a skillful, inventive, and plausible story about why, given that the phenomenal character of conscious experience is an unproblematically physical property, we continue to suffer from “intuitions of dualism”. According to Papineau, we are misled by the peculiar structure of the phenomenal concepts we use to introspect upon that phenomenal character. Roughly: unlike physical concepts, phenomenal concepts exemplify the kind of experience they are concepts of; and this creates the mistaken impression that the physical concepts leave something out. I find much of Papineau’s account congenial, though I have some questions about his characterization of phenomenal concepts. I will take up two of these questions here. On Papineau’s view, phenomenal concepts are mental terms that are formed by concatenating an experience operator, namely ‘the experience: —’, together with “an actual state of… perceptual classification” (115). The latter state, itself an experience, fills the blank in the experience operator; and the concept thus formed refers to the type of experience whose instances are relevantly similar to that perceptual filling.1 Papineau writes
Keywords Consciousness  Metaphysics  Phenomenology  Papineau, David
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI ppr200571111
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