“Finding the Feel”: The Matching Content Challenge to Cognitive Phenomenology

Tim Bayne, Tom McClelland


From the first-person point of view, seeing a red square is very different from thinking about a red square, hearing an alarm sound is very different from thinking that an alarm is sounding, and smelling freshly-roasted coffee is very different from thinking that there is feshly-roasted coffee in one’s vicinity. How might the familiar contrast between representing a fact in thought and representing it in perception be captured? One influential idea is that perceptual states are phenomenally conscious whereas thoughts are not. However, those theorists who hold that thoughts have a distinctive kind of phenomenal character – often known as “cognitive phenomenology” – cannot account for the contrast between thought and perception in this manner. This paper examines the various options that are available to advocates of cognitive phenomenology for capturing the experiential contrast between thought and perception, and argues that each of them faces serious challenges.


mental content; cognitive phenomenology; perceptual content; fregean content; representational format

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Phe_Mi-20090

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