In Mario de Caro, Francesco Ferretti & Massimo Marraffa (eds.), Cartography of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection. Kleuwer (2007)


Synaesthesia is most often characterised as a union or mixing of the senses. i Richard Cytowic describes it thus: “It denotes the rare capacity to hear colours, taste shapes or experience other equally startling sensory blendings whose quality seems difficult for most of us to imagine” ([1995] 1997, 7). One famous example is of a man who “tasted shapes”. When he experienced flavours he also experienced shapes rubbing against his face or hands. ii Such popular characterisations are rough and ready. What is certainly true about synaesthesia is that it involves the interaction between sensory phenomena: in response to certain stimuli some sensory phenomena are elicited in synaesthetes that are not elicited in non-synaesthetes. However, the exact nature of the additional sensory phenomena forms a large part of the debate on the nature of synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is a condition that has been known about for some time. In the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth, century very many articles appeared on the topic in the psychological literature. iii Much of this work on synaesthesia relied on introspective reports of subjects. In consequence, when later in the twentieth century psychologists eschewed introspective reports and radical behaviourist methodology became the order of the day, synaesthesia was rarely a topic of research. In more recent times, however, psychology has once again changed tack. With the advent of cognitive psychology and of objective techniques that try to probe the nature of conscious states of the mind that are reported in introspection, psychological interest in synaesthesia has resumed. Many new findings about the subject have recently been brought to light. In philosophy, interest in synaesthesia is only just beginning to arise. The phenomenon is potentially philosophically interesting for several reasons..

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Does Synesthesia Undermine Representationalism?Torin Alter - 2006 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 12.

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