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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 114, Issue 3, March 2017

Boyd Millar
Pages 134-154
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2017114311

Thinking with Sensations

If we acknowledge that a perceptual experience’s sensory phenomenology is not inherently representational, we face a puzzle. On the one hand, sensory phenomenology must play an intimate role in the perception of ordinary physical objects; but on the other hand, our experiences’ purely sensory element rarely captures our attention. I maintain that neither indirect realism nor the dual component theory provides a satisfactory solution to this puzzle: indirect realism is inconsistent with the fact that sensory phenomenology typically goes unnoticed by perceivers; while, the dual component theory cannot do justice to the important role that sensory phenomenology plays in our perceptual awareness of physical objects. I argue that in order to avoid the difficulties with each of the standard alternatives, we must characterize sensory phenomenology as functioning in the way that linguistic symbols function in thought.