, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 5-10

Unconscious sensations

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Abstract

D. M. Armstrong proposes to explain the possibility of unconscious sensations by means of a distinction between the perceptual consciousness, which is essentially involved in sensations, and our introspective consciousness of sensations. He holds that unconscious sensations are instances of perceptual consciousness of which we are not introspectively conscious. I contend that, although Armstrong's distinction is plausible and significant, it fails to explain his own examples of unconscious sensation. I argue that the puzzle of how unconscious sensations are possible arises at the level of perceptual consciousness and does not concern our introspective awareness of mental states.

This paper grew out of research supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities at Cornell University in 1985. I would like to express my gratitude to the National Endowment, to Cornell, and to Sydney Shoemaker.