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Sensory Qualities$
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Austen Clark

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198236801

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198236801.001.0001

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Different Modalities

Different Modalities

(p.117) 5 Different Modalities
Sensory Qualities

Austen Clark

Oxford University Press

One would like a general theory of sensory modalities, a theory that could be applied to any sensory modality, including ones that humans do not share. It could be applied not only to the familiar human sensory modalities, but also to non-human ones such as electro-reception and echo location. In Nagel's words, one would like an objective characterization of the subjective character of a sensory modality, one that would in some sense enable creatures who do not have a particular kind of experience to understand what it is like to have that kind of experience. This ‘objective phenomenology’ would describe the structural features of perception. Completing a quality space for a sensory modality satisfies some of these desires. That space precisely describes the modality's ‘structural features’, which are generated by relative similarities. This chapter describes some examples of quality spaces, including the psychological colour solid. Spatial qualia, chords, and shapes are also discussed.

Keywords:   sensory modalities, objective phenomenology, quality space, perception, relative similarities, psychological colour solid, spatial qualia, chords, shapes

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