Friday, March 18, 2011

the fragile nature of subjectivity

At Conscious Entities, an exploration of a topic covered, in an obliquely similar way, by Daniel Dennett in his paper, "Quining Qualia." While the thrust of Schwitzgebel's Perplexities of Consciousness is somewhat different, it seems to focus on the same problem that Dennett was focused on: does the word qualia have a reliably solid referent? From the blog comments about Schwitzgebel's book:

Why is it, he asks, that scarcely anyone, even the most vigorous sceptics, seriously questions the infallibility of introspection on certain points? The core argument seems to be that we can be wrong about the way things are, but we cannot be wrong about the way they appear to us. But why not? Schwitzgebel claims the argument rests on equivocation between two senses of ‘appear’ , one of them epistemic as in ‘it appears to me that…’. I don’t know whether the argument actually rests so much on the word ‘appear’ , but it seems a valid and interesting claim that there are two levels at work here: our experience and our beliefs or claims about it, with no special reason to think that the latter must be magically veridical.


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