Explaining the "inhereness" of qualia representationally: Why we seem to have a visual field

Authors
Dan Ryder
University of British Columbia
Abstract
A representationalist about qualia takes qualitative states to be aspects of the intentional content of sensory or sensory-like representations. When you experience the redness of an apple, they say, your visual system is merely representing that there is a red surface at such-and-such a place in front of you. And when you experience a red afterimage, your visual system is representing something similar . Your sensory state does not literally have an intrinsic quality of phenomenal redness, just as you do not have a hairy mental state when you occurrently believe that Santa Claus is hairy. Judging by the literature, it is quite plausible to claim that the nature of occurrent beliefs is exhausted by their representational characteristics.1 Why is it that this “pure representation” ploy is so much less plausible in the case of sensory states? Typically, the reason given is that belief states are not qualitative while sensory states are, as revealed by introspection. Qualitativity, it is further maintained, cannot be purely representational – this is the intuition the representationalist must fight. In this paper I want to focus on a feature of sensory states, distinct from but related to their qualitativity, that encourages the anti-representationalist to object to the representational thesis. I shall call this feature “inhereness.” Instances of sensory.
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