What is what-it-is-likeness like?
Lund mini-symposium on the concept of phenomenality
16th of January 2013
Most philosophers agree that there are some kinds of mental states, such as ordinary perceptual states, which obviously have "phenomenality" - that is, a subjective quality in the sense that there is "something it is like" to instantiate them - while also agreeing that there are some other kinds of mental states, such as subpersonal computational states, which obviously do not have phenomenality. However, there are also some kinds of mental states, such as occurrent thoughts, with respect to which it is controversial among philosophers whether or not they have phenomenality.
Some participants in this dispute express the worry that the debate may be solely semantic rather than substantial. Perhaps, they suggest, the problem is that partakers who disagree, disagree about how to apply the technical term "phenomenality" rather than about the fundamental features of mental reality. Needless to say, others are convinced that the debate indeed reflects vastly diverging conceptions of that reality. What seems to be desired in order to make progress, then, is an informative unpacking of the concept of phenomenality. But is this possible to achieve? Is it possible to give a closer characterisation of phenomenality which doesn’t just move around in the circle of broadly synonymous concepts but actually tells us something about what what-it-is-likeness is like?
This question forms the backdrop of this mini-symposium. We have chosen to
approach it indirectly, however, by giving three internationally distinguished
philosophers coming from three distinct backgrounds - Almäng: Husserlian phenomenology, Bayne: analytic philosophy of mind, Johansson: ontology - their take on phenomenality and mental reality. Each will give a talk on the subject and the talks will then be followed by a moderated discussion. We expect this strategy to facilitate a
rewarding discussion of precisely what we pack into the concept of
Attendance is free,
No registration beforehand is needed,
And everyone interested is welcome to attend.
Department of Philosophy
222 22 Lund