THE TRANSPARENCIES AND THE OPACITIES OF EXPERIENCE. INTENTIONALISM, PHENOMENAL CHARACTER, AND MOODS [Tesi di dottorato]
Università degli Studi di Milano, 2014-06-26

According to Intentionalism, what it’s like to undergo a conscious experience (i.e. its phenomenal character) is nothing over and above what that experience represents (i.e. its intentional content). This view is usually thought to be directly and strongly supported by introspective evidence and, in particular, by the following introspective datum, the so-called transparency of experience: in introspection one is not aware of the intrinsic qualities of one’s experience, but the only features one is directly aware of appear as properties of mind-independent, external objects of the world. (Harman, 1990; Tye, 1995, 2000) This suggests that all that there is about our conscious experience is nothing over and above its intentional content. In this dissertation, I focus on and address the issue of the transparency of experience and its relations with Intentionalism. More precisely, I consider why and how transparency exactly supports Intentionalism, what is the scope of transparency, what exactly is its strength, and what are the consequences on Intentionalism in case transparency fails. In particular, I argue for these two interconnected claims: (1) experience is not transparent in the sense required by Intentionalism; (2) introspection does not support Intentionalism but, on the contrary, offers strong reasons against it. In order to develop my argument, I consider the case study of moods, namely, affective states like anxiety, depression, elation, grumpiness, gloominess, irritation, etc. The discussion on moods provides the following two main results. (i) At least some moods–– e.g., undirected anxiety, objectless depression, sudden elation––are genuinely undirected, as long as they are not other-presenting experiences. This is not dependent on some deficiency/inability of the introspector, but it is a fact about their phenomenal character: it is constitutively part of what it’s like to be in those moods. (ii) The fact that those experiences are not other-presenting leads to conclude that they are also fully opaque experiences (i.e. entirely non-transparent experiences). Indeed, as I argue, one minimal condition for transparency is being other-presenting. These two results have important consequences both on Intentionalism and on transparency. For what concerns the consequences on Intentionalism, the opacity of undirected moods is not only a mere lack of evidence in support of Intentionalism; rather, it constitutes a source of evidence against it. That undirected moods are opaque, indeed, means that their phenomenal character, as it is revealed in introspection, is such that it cannot be identified with intentional content. So, I argue, if one considers transparency as a strong evidence in support of the claim that phenomenal character is intentional content, then, and for the same reasons, one should also accept that opacity is strong evidence against that claim. Thus, Intentionalism as a theory concerning the nature of phenomenal character is to be rejected because the opacity of undirected moods offers introspective direct and strong evidence against it. On the other hand, as for transparency, with Kind’s (2003) distinction between strong and weak transparency at hand, I argue that transparency should not be rejected altogether, but rather revised in its strength and thereby understood in terms of weak transparency, where this means the following: although difficult, it is still not impossible to be introspectively aware of the qualities of the experience. Thus, I claim, experience is not strongly transparent (i.e. the way the intentionalist would like it to be) but weakly transparent. Hence, my twofold conclusion: (1) experience is not transparent in the (strong) sense required by Intentionalism; (2) introspection does not support Intentionalism but, on the contrary, offers strong evidence against it. Although these results suggest a rejection of Intentionalism, my final suggestion is that this is to be done in a constructive way. So, in the very final paragraphs I offer some general considerations on how to make sense of an alternative view that keeps the best of the intentionalist proposal and, at the same time, drops what is wrong with it.

diritti: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
tutor: P. Spinicci ; coordinatore: P. Spinicci
SPINICCI, PAOLO
SPINICCI, PAOLO
Settore M-FIL/05 - - Filosofia e Teoria dei Linguaggi


Tesi di dottorato. | Lingua: Inglese. | Paese: | BID: TD16001683