, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 89-108
Date: 08 Mar 2012

Discussion of J. Kevin O’Regan’s “Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness”

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Summary of the Book, by J. Kevin O’Regan

The book (O’Regan 2011) attempts to provide an account of phenomenal consciousness. It starts by discussing the perceived quality of sensory experiences, without adjudicating on what makes them actually experienced, let alone conscious.

What I call the “sensorimotor” approach contends that the quality of a sensory experience is a set of objective laws concerning the interaction with the world that the experience involves.

The quality of red, for example, is completely determined by objective laws that link our actions to the sensory changes that they produce (e.g. how moving our eyes, moving pieces of red paper, etc. change the sensory input deriving from the light coming into our eyes). The quality of auditory experience is completely determined by laws like the fact that when you approach a sound source, the amplitude of the sensory input increases, etc.

Now there are a very large number of objective laws characterizing any individual sensory inte ...