Mette Kristine Hansen (Bergen)

"There is nothing that it is like to think that p!"

Abstract: Traditionally, philosophers supported a separatist view on mental states. They claimed that there are basically two types of mental states: 1) Cognitive states such as thoughts, beliefs and desires- seen as being merely representational, lacking qualia. 2) Sensations, such as perceptions, pains and tickles - seen as non-representational or only partly representational where the qualia of such states could be separated from their representational aspects.

Lately, separatism has been challenged by both representationalist theories of consciousness (Dretske 1995, Tye 1995/2000, Lycan 1996) and proponents of cognitive phenomenology (Horgan and Tienson 2002, Pitt 2004). Proponents of the representationalist theories of consciousness claim that the qualia - or to use their preferred term; the phenomenal character - of a mental state, such as e.g. a perceptual state, cannot be separated from the representational character of such a state.  Proponents of cognitive phenomenology deny separatism by claiming that cognitive states such as thoughts, beliefs and desires, have qualitative conscious properties.

In this paper I present a negative argument against the view that there is a cognitive phenomenology. I claim that “there is nothing that it is like to think that p”. In addition I present a positive argument for moderate anti-separatism when it comes to perceptual states.

Return to conference webpage