Committee ChairLehrer, Keith
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis is an attempt to arrive at a philosophical understanding of (qualitative) consciousness, characteristic examples of which are pains, tickles, experienced colors, sounds, tastes, and odors. Consciousness is analyzed as the having of qualia. Qualia (or phenomenal properties) are problematical because nothing (neither physical nor nonphysical, neither actual nor merely possible) can bear them. This suggests qualia eliminativism; but it is argued that qualia should be retained as properties that can be exemplified though nothing bears them. Phenomenal objects are then presented as bundles of qualia. The bundle theory of phenomenal objects is complemented with a bundle theory of the conscious subject. Qualia are crucial elements of the bundle that constitutes a conscious subject. For a subject to have a quale is for this quale to be included in the bundle that is the subject. This account makes consciousness into a noncognitive phenomenon. Having a quale is not a matter of knowing anything, believing anything, or cognizing anything in any way. It is simply to feel a certain way. Two theses are singled out for particular critical attention. Concerning the nature of qualia, David Armstrong has argued that (color) qualia are complexes of primary qualities borne by the surfaces of (actual or possible) physical objects that we perceive or seem to perceive. More than other reductionists, Armstrong is concerned to ensure the phenomenologial adequacy of his reductionist theory. This phenomenological sensibility makes his theory of qualia particularly interesting and also particularly vulnerable. Concerning the question what it takes to have qualia, introspection appears to be the chosen tool of many contemporary theorists. Using John Pollock's introspectionist account of qualitative consciousness as a model, it is argued that introspection can play no part in an adequate explanation of qualitative consciousness. Throughout the investigation the methodological importance of the first-person point of view is emphasized. The primary responsibility of philosophical theory of consciousness is to insure phenomenological adequacy. Straying from the first-person point of view makes it easy to forget this.