The Phenomenal Character of Visual Consciousness

Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago (2003)

Robert Schroer
University of Minnesota, Duluth
Like all forms of perceptual consciousness, visual consciousness has a felt or "phenomenal" character---there is something that it is like to be visually conscious. In this thesis, I develop a physicalist account of the phenomenal character of visual consciousness. ;I begin by defending a version of Representationalism that I call "Environmental Representationalism". According to Environmental Representationalism the phenomenal similarities and differences obtaining between visual experiences are similarities and differences in the representational claims these experiences make about the surrounding environment. Environmental Representationalism is attractive as a thesis of visual phenomenal character because it accommodates the fact that our visual experiences are "transparent" to the surrounding environment. ;Environmental Representationalism, however, is only a thesis about a limited set of the phenomenal features of visual experience. A theory of visual phenomenal character must also address the phenomenal similarities and differences that obtain between visual experiences and other kinds of sensory experiences as well the phenomenal similarities and differences that obtain between visual experiences and conscious thoughts. Towards that end, I develop a theory of "visual cues". This theory, in turn, illuminates the phenomenal similarities and differences between vision and the other sensory modalities and conscious thought
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