Seeing and feeling, all at once


We recognize a cube by sight and touch; can we really set apart visual from tactile aspects of our sensory phenomenology? Tradition has it that we can separate what it is like to see a shape from what it is like to feel it, even when they both concur to recognizing the shape experienced (Martin 1992). A new, challenging, answer is that we cannot split up experiences in the way tradition presupposes. Rather, all our sensory experiences are ineliminably crossmodal, and weave together aspects pertaining to different senses into a single, phenomenally unified, experience (Tye 2007). I propose a third answer, traditionally heeding the many differences between the senses. However, against tradition, I argue that, in recognizing shapes, sight and touch work closer together, in a way that makes visual and tactile phenomenal aspects at least sometimes impossible to separate for mature, unimpaired, experienced perceivers.

Keywords: crossmodal experiences; the unity of consciousness; Molyneux' problem; sensory consciousness

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