The structure of audio–visual consciousness

Synthese 198 (3):2101-2127 (2019)
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It is commonly believed that human perceptual experiences can be, and usually are, multimodal. What is more, a stronger thesis is often proposed that some perceptual multimodal characters cannot be described simply as a conjunction of unimodal phenomenal elements. If it is the case, then a question arises: what is the additional mode of combination that is required to adequately describe the phenomenal structure of multimodal experiences? The paper investigates what types of audio–visual experiences have phenomenal character that cannot be analysed as a mere conjunction of visual and auditory elements; and how can we properly characterise the required, additional mode of perceptual combination. Three main modes of combination are considered: instantiation, parthood, and grouping. It is argued that some phenomena involving intermodal relations, like spatial and temporal ventriloquism, can be analysed in terms of audio–visual, perceptual grouping. On the other hand, cases of intermodal binding need a different treatment. Experiences involving audio–visual binding should be analysed as experiences presenting objects or events which instantiate, or which have a proper part instantiating, both visually and auditorily determined properties.

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Błażej Skrzypulec
Jagiellonian University


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