Synesthesia, Hallucination, and Autism

Frontiers in Bioscience 26:797-809 (2021)
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Synesthesia literally means a “union of the senses” whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together in experience. For example, some synesthetes experience a color when they hear a sound, although many instances of synesthesia also occur entirely within the visual sense. In this paper, I first mainly engage critically with Sollberger’s view that there is reason to think that at least some synesthetic experiences can be viewed as truly veridical perceptions, and not as illusions or hallucinations. Among other things, I explore the possibility that many forms of synesthesia can be understood as experiencing what I will call “second-order secondary properties,” that is, experiences of properties of objects induced by the secondary qualities of those objects. In doing so, I shed some light on why synesthesia is typically one-directional and its relation to some psychopathologies such as autism.
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