Transparency and Representationalist Theories of Consciousness

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Claremont McKenna College, Philosophy (CMC)

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Over the past few decades, as philosophers of mind have begun to rethink the sharp divide that was traditionally drawn between the phenomenal character of an experience (what it’s like to have that experience) and its intentional content (what it represents), representationalist theories of consciousness have become increasingly popular. On this view, phenomenal character is reduced to intentional content. This article explores a key motivation for this theory, namely, considerations of experiential transparency. Experience is said to be transparent in that we ‘look right through it’ to the objects of that experience, and this is supposed to support the representationalist claim that there are no intrinsic aspects of our experience.

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© 2010 Philosophy Compass