The transparency of experience and the neuroscience of attention

Synthese 198 (5):4709-4730 (2019)

Abstract

According to the thesis of transparency, subjects can attend only to the representational content of perceptual experience, never to the intrinsic properties of experience that carry this representational content, i.e., to “mental paint.” So far, arguments for and against transparency were conducted from the armchair, relying mainly on introspective observations. In this paper, we argue in favor of transparency, relying on the cognitive neuroscience of attention. We present a trilemma to those who hold that attention can be directed to mental paint. Such attention is either first-order sensory, higher-order cognitive, or higher-order sensory attention. We argue that the notion of first-order sensory attention to mental paint is incompatible with the neuroscience of sensory attention; that higher-order cognitive attention to mental paint is irrelevant to transparency; and that the notion of higher-order sensory attention to mental paint has an apparently incoherent prediction. Via elimination, these considerations support the thesis of transparency.

Download options

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-08-21

Downloads
183 (#66,238)

6 months
29 (#30,809)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Selectionism and Diaphaneity.Paweł Jakub Zięba - forthcoming - Axiomathes:1-31.
Seeing Colours Unconsciously.Paweł Jakub Zięba - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-36.
Projects and Methods of Experimental Philosophy.Eugen Fischer & Justin Sytsma - forthcoming - In Alexander Max Bauer & Stephan Kornmesser (eds.), The Compact Compendium of Experimental Philosophy. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Attention to Mental Paint and Change Detection.Assaf Weksler - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (8):1991-2007.
Scents and Sensibilia.Clare Batty - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):103-118.
What’s so Transparent About Transparency?Amy Kind - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 115 (3):225-244.
Is Seeing-In a Transparency Effect?Michael Newall - 2015 - British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (2):131-156.
Is Experience Transparent?Charles Siewert - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 117 (1-2):15-41.
Heirs of Nothing: The Implications of Transparency.Matthew Kennedy - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):574-604.
Transparency, Interrupted.Clare Birchall - 2011 - Theory, Culture and Society 28 (7-8):60-84.
Transparency, Olfaction and Aesthetics.Thomas Baker - 2016 - Analysis 76 (2):121-130.
Transitivity and Transparency.Joseph Gottlieb - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (4):353-379.
Phenomenal Presence.Christopher Frey - 2013 - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Phenomenal Intentionality. Oup Usa. pp. 71-92.