Monday, July 13, 2009

Do you think that there is anything it is like to have a visual experience in general?

There are different shades of red that you can experience. You can distinguish between RED35 and RED36, two experiences of different shades of red. Both experiences of the two shades of red are more similar, phenomenologically speaking, between them that with regard to RED2.
Furthermore experiences RED35, RED36 and RED2 seem to be more similar that an experience of GREEN21. In general we distinguish between red experiences and green experiences. The phenomenal properties that characterize red experiences are in a sense different from those which characterize green experiences.
Do you think that it is controversial to suppose that red experiences have something phenomenological in common?

The former four experiences are in a sense similar, they are color experiences. They differ in a sense from visual experiences of forms, like a visual experience of a square. But again this experience and an experience of a red object have something in common: they are visual experiences, and in a sense the way they feel is similar.
Do you agree that visual experiences feel somehow similar and that the way that they feel is different from, say, auditory experiences?


FerBroncano said...

I am not very acquainted with this topic. Anyhow, from what you say I infer that to solve whether a set of colour experiences have something phenomenological in common what calls the tune are the clearly distinct cases. Now, the fact that there are borderline cases in which someone would hesitate to label a certain shade as 'green' or 'yellow' makes the supposition controversial, doesn't it? I would say that we tend to think that the answer to your first question is positive because when it comes to think about it we normally have in mind the whole visible spectrum of colours. My sorites-flavoured intuition is that we don't get a positive answer unless we solve in the first place the case of borderline colour experiences (those which we feel neither green, neither yellow).
For the second question, I think that a sound-colour synesthete wouldn’t agree.

Manolo Martínez said...

Yep, I think all colour experiences have some common phenomenal character, which non-colour experiences lacks. Mutatis mutandis for experiences as of red.

Sebas said...

Thanks Fernando.
Do you think that different experiences of very different shadows of green (but not at all borderline cases like green-yellow or green-blue) have phenomenologically speaking something in common?
And two experiences, one of a clear borderline case of green-yellow and one of clear green?
Setting aside the case of synesthesia (I agree with your objection at this point, but now I am more interested in brains that function "normally" and the one of the synesthete is not one of them), would you agree that, in your case, visual experiences feel somehow similarly? do you think that those experiences have phenomenologically speaking something in common?

Sebas said...

Manolo, it seems to follow from what you are saying that the phenomenal character of an experience of red34 is not irreducible. Do you agree?

FerBroncano said...

I also like to think that all colour experiences have some common phenomenal character, absent in non-colour experiences (even a synesthete would agree with that).
To your first question: Yes, I think that (broadly speaking) experiences of different shadows of green share some phenomenal feature. But my point is that this intuition only arises because we are speaking broadly. In general we tend to say things like “I feel different things when looking at very distinct shadows of green but differences are not so marked as when I look at an orange”. So it is intuitive to conclude that they all share the some phenomenal feature.
Now, if we speak more specifically and consider some concrete cases, the intuition does not seem so clear to me. Take for instance one of these images to test daltonism where there’s a red number over a background of different green spots. When compared with the salient red number, the phenomenal character of our experiences of all these green spots is, if not the same, closely similar. But think about an artificial dark grass football field with a very pale green ball in the middle field. At least for this case, the salient pale green ball would make its corresponding colour experience phenomenologically different from the colour experience of the surroundings. Still, you can speak broadly and argue that it doesn’t matter because your theory is just concerned with the phenomenal character of colours in general. But if you go that way I think you would be missing something important: how the phenomenal character of a colour experience arises not just depending on the colour in question but on the relation with surrounding colours.
To the last question: I used to think that visual experiences have phenomenologically speaking something in common. After taking last year the course of processes of multisensorial integration things are not so clear. The normal functioning of brains is a multimodality functioning, there’s a lot of multisensorial stuff there which I think not so independent from the what-it-is-like thing.