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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Synaesthetes experience additional sensory features (concurrents) when presented with certain objects such as letters (inducers). Because synaesthetic experiences are involuntary, vivid, and systematic, scientists assimilate them with perceptual experiences—an assimilation which turns out to be difficult to reconcile with the dominant philosophical theories of perception. However, this chapter stresses that the philosophical difficulties dissolve once certain questionable assumptions are corrected. First, synaesthesia is a very varied condition, perhaps not even unified, and only rare cases might count as being similar enough to perceptual experiences. Second, synaesthetic experiences should not be analysed as a conjunction of two distinct phenomena: one for the inducer, enjoyed by synaesthetes and non-synaesthetes alike, and one for the concurrent, enjoyed only by synaesthetes. This chapter proposes an alternative account, whereby synaesthetic experiences are better captured as richer, unified experiences, where an additional sensory attribute gets hosted in the perceptual experience of the inducer. This novel account leads us to reconsider the philosophical challenges raised by synaesthesia.

Keywords: synaesthesia, perception, representationalism, functionalism, individuation of the senses, hallucinations

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