Philosophical Papers and Review

  • Abbreviation: Philos. Papers Rev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-663X
  • DOI: 10.5897/PPR
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 44

Full Length Research Paper

Varieties of representationalism and their approach to sensory experience

Kevin Kimble
  • Kevin Kimble
  • Department of Philosophy, National Chung-Cheng University, Taiwan.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 October 2012
  •  Accepted: 16 December 2013
  •  Published: 30 April 2014


Sensory states have a subjective, qualitative element that constitutes the phenomenal character of experience, and at the same time they have an intentional or representational component that we can describe as their phenomenal content. The main question that will occupy us throughout this essay is the question of how these two elements are related.  The logical space with respect to this question is mapped  out by introducing various views of phenomenal content in order to clarify the precise nature of the relationship between phenomenal character and the representational aspects of experience. After setting out two desiderata for an acceptable theory of phenomenal content, a thought experiment by David Lewis was discussed which suggests a certain view about the nature of sensory experience. Such a view underscores the importance of requiring any plausible representationalist theory to satisfy the proposed desiderata.
Keywords: Phenomenal character, awareness, perceptual experience, representation, intentionality, content, qualia, sensation, externalism.