David Rosenthal: Mental Qualities | Who Shaves the Barber? #28

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Undetectable inversion

Suppose you see a round red ball. This appearance of redness and roundness – what is it?

David Rosenthal, a philosopher of mind, lays out two ways of approaching “mental qualities”. There is the consciousness-based approach, which posits that only consciousness gives us access to perceptual “qualia” like color and smell. And there is the perceptual-role approach: the view that we know about mental qualities through their role in perceptual discrimination. Rosenthal argues for the latter and develops a “quality space theory” to describe what mental qualities are in these terms. Along the way, he discusses subliminal perception and priming effects, the “undetectable inversion” hypothesis (basically this idea), and why he thinks there is no “hard problem of consciousness” at all.



Next week: David Rosenthal: Consciousness

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to David Rosenthal
1:02 – Consciousness based approach to mental qualities
7:23 – Perceptual role approach to mental qualities
9:55 – Immediacy?
13:32 – First v. third person access
20:22 – The hard problem of consciousness
31:13 – Subliminal perception and priming
40:15 – Quality space theory
45:49 – Undetectable inversion hypothesis


David Rosenthal (homepage)
How to Think about Mental Qualities” by David Rosenthal

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