Qualia and Representations [chapter]

Elisabeth Pacherie
1999 The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science  
Dretske has recently offered a representational theory of perceptual experienceconsidered as paradigmatic of the qualitative and phenomenal aspects of our mental life. This theory belongs, as do his previous works, to a naturalistic approach to mental representation. I would like to highlight some difficulties that arise when this representational approach is extended to certain qualitative aspects of the mental. First, I give a general outline of Dretske's representationalist strategy,
more » ... t strategy, mentioning along the way certain modifications or novelties in his use of distinctions he had previously drawn. I then focus on three aspects of his theory that seem to me to involve potential problems or inconsistencies. I first concentrate on the way Dretske uses his distinction between firstorder consciousness and second-order consciousness in his account of the phenomenon of blindsight. My second concern is with the problem of qualia inversion -the theoretical possibility of which Dretske acknowledges -and his treatment of it in representational terms. Lastly, I criticize Dretske's idea that the qualitative differences between perceptual experiences in different modalities always reduce to differences in the sensory properties the perceived scene or object is represented as having or to differences in the conceptual elaborations based on those properties. I suggest that we can get a more accurate insight into the nature of these modality-related differences if we examine their potential relations with, on the one hand, the role or function of consciousness in perception and with, on the other hand, that special character of the relation to the object in perception that Husserl described as 'Leibhaftigkeit'. Résumé Dretske a récemment proposé une théorie représentationnelle de l'expérience perceptive -considérée comme manifestation paradigmatique des aspects qualitatifs et phénoménaux de notre vie mentale. Cette théorie s'inscrit, comme ses travaux antérieurs, dans le cadre d'une approche naturaliste des représentations mentales. Je souhaiterais mettre en évidence certaines difficultés que pose l'extension de cette approche aux aspects qualitatifs du mental. Je présente d'abord dans ses grandes lignes la stratégie représentationnaliste de Dretske et indique au passage certains infléchissements ou usages nouveaux de distinctions qu'il avait antérieurement élaborées. Je me concentre ensuite sur trois aspects de sa théorie qui me semblent problématiques. Il s'agit, premièrement, de l'application que fait Dretske de la distinction entre deux ordres de conscience dans son analyse du phénomène du 1 My thanks to Roberto Casati, François Clémentz, Denis Fisette, Pierre Jacob, Pierre Livet, Claude Panaccio, and Joëlle Proust for their comments and suggestions.
doi:10.1007/978-94-015-9193-5_6 fatcat:uytmnui5sngtzoo7zvsh37fl2m