L'étoffe du sensible [Sensible Stuffs]

In J.-M. Chevalier & B. Gaultier (eds.), Connaître, Questions d'épistémologie contemporaine. Paris, France: Ithaque. pp. 201-230 (2014)
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The proper sensible criterion of sensory individuation holds that senses are individuated by the special kind of sensibles on which they exclusively bear about (colors for sight, sounds for hearing, etc.). H. P. Grice objected to the proper sensibles criterion that it cannot account for the phenomenal difference between feeling and seeing shapes or other common sensibles. That paper advances a novel answer to Grice's objection. Admittedly, the upholder of the proper sensible criterion must bind the proper sensibles –i.e. colors– to the common sensibles –i.e. shapes– so as to account for the visual phenomenal character of shapes. But, as Grice rightly objected, neither association, nor ontological dependence will do –I spend some time isolating why dependence is a bad answer here, basically because the dependence of shape on colors is generic, and that genericity is arguably not part of the phenomenal content of perception. Grice is wrong, however, to think that once association and dependence have been rebutted, there is no other way to attach color to extension. The right way to connect proper and common sensibles is rather trivial, although it seems to have been widely neglected: proper sensibles FILL common ones. To see a shape, by contrast to feeling it, is to perceived as filled by some color. To feel a shape, is to perceive it as, say, filled by pressure. Filling in is the phenomenal connection between proper and common sensibles. One important corollary of that proposal is that proper sensibles –color, pressure, noise, taste...– have to belong to the category of stuffs, in the sense of uncountable entities. Against the widespread view that colors are properties, which have countable instances, the last part of the paper argues that colors are phenomenal stuffs, which fill some visual area. One commits a category mistake in asking: "How many tropes/instances of this determinate redness is there on that ladybird". One should rather ask "How much of this determinate redness is there on that ladybird".
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