Benj Hellie "Consciousness and the Phenomenological"

This paper is about the extent to which consciousness is "transparent to itself": I argue that it is at best mildly translucent and in some cases utterly opaque. A view on which transparency is maximized is a strong version of the plausible "quotational" view of phenomenal concepts, on which any phenomenal property can become a constituent of a concept by which a subject is self-aware of consciousness. I argue that this strong quotationalism is incompatible with any view on which phenomenal consciousness "reaches out to the world": direct realism/factivism aboutthe attitude of visual experience, and Russellian and Fregean views of the content of visual experience. This provides prima facie motivation for stepping back from strong quotationalism. I outline a strategy for doing so without abandoning the spirit of quotationalism. The quotationalist story must posit a psychological mechanism by which properties are selected for quotation. This mechanism can be inadequate to the strong position in one of two ways: if there are phenomenal properties too finely grained for its sieve (a sort of "ignorance"), or if it sometimes misfires, introducing the "wrong" property (a sort of "error"). The Russellian content of visual experience is preserved via the ignorance strategy, the factive attitude via the error strategy. I suspect that the view has the consequence that the phenomenal properties of hallucinatory experience are unknowable, a consequence especially pressing for the dualist.