What Cognitive Phenomenology Is, and Why the ‘Hard Problem’ cannot be confined to Qualia.Howard Robinson (Central European University)
Yet Another Workshop on Phenomenal Intentionality
Nador utca 9
According to one mainstream empiricist tradition, cognitive states can be treated reductively (by behaviourism or functionalism) but sensory consciousness cannot. This latter’s irreducibility is associated with its phenomenology, whilst cognition is said to lack any distinctive phenomenology. It is this latter claim that CP denies.
Prinz adopts something close to the traditional empiricist view, and denies that there is such a thing as CP. I argue that he misunderstands what CP is, and thereby makes it seemingly easy to refute it.
A minimal statement of CP is that it is a denial of the reductive, behavioural or functional account of ‘conscious’ thought, so that grasping thought content is a kind of irreducible experience in its own right. This thought gets expressed in a variety of increasingly specific ways. (i) Thinking has a phenomenology. (ii) Thinking has a phenomenal character. (iii) Thinking has a qualitative character. Prinz equates CP with (iii). This enables him to defend his ‘restrictivist’ view, according to which only the sensory has qualitative character and hence there is no CP. But I argue that it is wrong to identify the experiential character of thought with a qualitative feature, and Prinz’s criticism collapses. I also argue against Carruthers and Veillete.
In an argument not, I think, normally part of this debate, I argue that the irreducibility of qualia itself entails that there is cognitive phenomenology.
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