Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 551–572 | Cite as

How representationalism can account for the phenomenal significance of illumination

  • René Jagnow


In this paper, I defend a representationalist account of the phenomenal character of color experiences. Representationalism, the thesis that phenomenal character supervenes on a certain kind of representational content, so-called phenomenal content, has been developed primarily in two different ways, as Russellian and Fregean representationalism. While the proponents of Russellian and Fregean representationalism differ with respect to what they take the contents of color experiences to be, they typically agree that colors are exhaustively characterized by the three dimensions of the color solid: hue, saturation, and lightness. I argue that a viable version of representationalism needs to renounce this restriction to three dimensions and consider illumination to be a genuine phenomenal dimension of color. My argument for this thesis falls into two parts. I first consider the phenomenon of color constancy in order to show that neither Russellian nor Fregean representationalism can do justice to the phenomenal significance of local illumination. I subsequently formulate a version of representationalism that accounts for illumination by taking it as a phenomenal dimension of color.


Representationalism Color constancy Phenomenal content Color experience Illumination 



For helpful comments, I want to thank Dan Farnham, Tamara Levitz, Melissa Seymour, Sarah Wright, and an anonymous reviewer for this journal. I am grateful to the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts for the research grant that made this project possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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