Contrary to some well-known views in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, in general it is not the case that the felt character (phenomenal character, qualitative content) of sensory experiences is determined by the information that these experiences pick up, or represent, about the world. In this dissertation I shall focus on a particular sensory modality, namely color vision, to support this thesis. Recently there has arisen a strong and popular view of phenomenal consciousness according to which the two fundamental problems about the mind: intentionality and phenomenal experience, can be traced back to just one: intentionality. On this view, the phenomenal aspect of experience is a special case of intentionality, or our mental states’ carrying information about the external world. For instance, when we see the colors of objects, we see, in a direct and transparent way, exactly those kinds of properties that the external objects have. Not only are the colors of objects causally responsible for our experiences as of color, object colors crucially determine what is called the phenomenal character of color experience. In this dissertation I shall argue that this view of color experience – the view called representational externalism – cannot be correct. I shall argue that from the empirical facts about object color and color vision we need not conclude that object colors do not exist, hence color vision is a grand illusion; however, we do have to conclude from these facts that though object colors are the causes of our color experience, what it is like to see the colors is not, in any theoretically interesting sense, determined by the colors themselves. To the contrary, what it is like to see the colors is crucially determined by how our color vision systems are constructed. In this dissertation I offer two independent arguments to support this claim.

Additional Metadata
Keywords cognitive science, sensory experience, phenomenal consciousness, intentionality, colour, perception
Publisher Institute of Cognitive Science
Series Cognitive Science Technical Report Series
Jakab, Zoltán. (2001). Color Experience: Empirical Evidence Against Representational Externalism. Technical Report 2001-07. Cognitive Science Technical Report Series. Institute of Cognitive Science.