Transparency and the unity of experience

In E. Wright (ed.), The Case for Qualia. MIT Press. pp. 299 (2008)
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Abstract

If we assume that the operation of each sense modality constitutes a different experience – a visual experience, an auditory experience, etc – we are faced with the problem of how those distinct experiences come together to form a unified perceptual encounter with the world. Michael Tye has recently argued that the best way to get around this problem is to deny altogether that there are such things as purely visual (and so forth) experiences. Here I aim to show not simply that Tye’s proposed solution fails, but that its failure is highly instructive because it allows us to see that the transparency thesis, which lies at the heart of the case against qualia, and of most representationalist theories of experience, is more problematic than is often supposed.

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John O'Dea
University of Tokyo