Consciousness and Mental Qualities for Auditory Sensations

Journal of Consciousness Studies 21 (9-10):179-204 (2014)
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The contribution of recent theories of sound and audition has been extremely significant for the development of a philosophy of auditory perception; however, none tackle the question of how our consciousness of auditory states arises. My goal is to show how consciousness about our auditory experience gets triggered. I examine a range of auditory mental phenomena to show how we are able to capture qualitative distinctions of auditory sensations. I argue that our consciousness of auditory states consists in having thoughts that organize our experience. Although my proposals could be adapted to fit with other theories of consciousness, here I expand David Rosenthal’s high-order-thought theory and his quality-space theory, and show their usefulness for analyzing our auditory experience. I use quality-space to account for pitch, timbre, loudness, and sound location. I further show that our high-order-thoughts capture qualitative aspects of our auditory sensations. I conclude by demonstrating how a hypothetical listener in possession of a refined vocabulary describes and reports her high-order-thoughts about her musical experience.

Author's Profile

Adriana Renero
CUNY Graduate Center


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