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, , . Transparency of experience and the perceptual model of phenomenal awareness
2007,
Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Abstract: When I look at a colored object I have an experience of a specific phenomenal kind. Let us suppose I have an experience of pure blue. The blueness I see appears to be instantiated on the surface of the object. When I focus upon the specific phenomenal kind of visual experience I am having (on my having an experience of pure blue) I continue to carefully attend to the property the object appears to have and I do not direct my attention into some inner space. I do not get aware – by attending to my own experience – of the instantiation of any property I was not already aware of before I focused attention upon my own experience. These insights have been associated with the idea that perceptual experience is ‘transparent’ or ‘diaphanous’ and they have been taken to support a number of substantial philosophical claims about the nature of phenomenal states and about our capacity to attend to these states. It has been argued that these phenomenological insights support the claim that the phenomenal character of experiences consists in their representing objects as having specific properties (where representation is understood in a naturalistic manner). It also has appeared obvious to some philosophers that the so?called transparency of experience supports the following claim: either our experiences do not have an intrinsic phenomenal character or we are unable to attend to these intrinsic features. I will argue in this paper that the phenomenological insights associated with the term ‘transparency of experience’ do not support the philosophical consequences just mentioned. I will try to show that the contrary impression is a cognitive illusion that can be explained by reference to what one may call the perceptual model of phenomenal awareness and phenomenological reflection. This model is just a bad and misleading metaphor as everybody will agree when consciously considering the issue. Nonetheless, or so I claim, the metaphor is at work in the background of people’s mind. If we assume that a philosopher is either him? or herself in the grip of that metaphor or implicitly interprets the view he wishes to attack along the lines of that metaphor, then we can see how it may appear obvious to him that the phenomenological insights associated with ‘transparency’ lead quite naturally to the strong philosophical claims they have been taken to support.1

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