Illusions of Affection: A Hyper-Illusory Account of Normative Valence

Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (5-6):6-29 (2021)
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This article challenges the orthodox position that some smells are pleasantly fragrant and some tactile sensations are painful. It proposes that the affective components of our experiences are a kind of illusion. Under this alternative picture, experiences that seem to have positive or negative affect never actually do. Rather, the affective component is hyper-illusory, a second-order misrepresentation of the way things actually seem to us. While perceptual hyperillusions have elicited scepticism in other contexts, affective hyperillusions can withstand common critiques. Focusing on the paradigmatic affective experience — pain — the article situates the hyperillusory account within the existing scientific and philosophical literature. Several theoretical advantages of positing a hyper-illusory structure to affective experiences emerge from the discussion.

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Mihailis E. Diamantis
University of Iowa


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