A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

And where is the Experience?

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on June 22, 2007

I’m skeptical about the “phenomenal experience” thingie. It seems to me that it is one of the last hiding places of Cartesianism. But, I probably will leave my pondering on that issue for some other post.

I want here to ask if anyone has idea of how “the experience” is supposed to work in representationalism. As I understand it one of the claims of the representationalism in which it differs from sense-data (qualia) views is the claim of transparency of experience. The transparency thesis, to quote Pete’s formulation from this post on Brain Hammer is this:

When one has a conscious experience all that one is conscious of is what the experience is an experience of.

Now the question that puzzles me is this… If all that one is conscious of are the things that experience is experience of, what about the “experience” itself? Isn’t this supposed to be something that we are aware that we have? But if all that we are aware of are the things that the experience is experience of, what is this “experience” thing (I take it that conscious of can be changed with aware of in this case)? If we can’t become aware of it, how do we know that we have experience? Or is it supposed to be a theoretical concept?

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4 Responses to “And where is the Experience?”

  1. N. N. said

    Could the representationalist simply include experience itself among the ‘things’ that is experienced?

  2. Hi N.N.,

    Maybe, but wouldn’t that mean that experience is experienced, or some such thing? I mean… it sounds weird.

    It seems that one possible explanation, is what Richard Brown is talking about on his blog called transitivity thesis, which is (quoting Richard):

    What Transitivity claims is that we must be conscious of ourselves as having the experience (or conscious of ourselves as being in a certain state).

  3. Hi Tanasije,

    On Transparency-based views, yes, the experience itself is theoretical and, no, it is not something that we are directly aware of.

  4. Thanks for the answer Pete,

    What about what-it-is-likeness, what would it be?
    I take it that if we can’t be aware of the experience, it is not some property of the experience, as what-it-is-likeness is supposed to be something that we are aware of.
    Would then transparency claim mean that what-is-it-likeness is property of the things themselves?

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