The Phenomenology of Cognition: Or What Is It Like to Think That P?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):1-36 (2004)
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A number of philosophers endorse, without argument, the view that there’s something it’s like consciously to think that p, which is distinct from what it’s like consciously to think that q. This thesis, if true, would have important consequences for philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In this paper I offer an argument for it, and attempt to induce examples of it in the reader. The argument claims it would be impossible introspectively to distinguish conscious thoughts with respect to their content if there weren’t something it’s like to think them. This argument is defended against several objections. Then I use what I call “minimal pair” experiences—sentences read without and with understanding—to induce in the reader an experience of the kind I claim exists. Further objections are considered and rebutted.

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David Pitt
California State University, Los Angeles


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