Sensory Qualities

Sensory Qualities

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Many philosophers doubt that one can provide any successful explanation of sensory qualities - of how things look, feel or seem to a perceiving subject. To do so one would need to be able to explain qualitative facts in non-qualitative terms, and attempts to construct such an explanation seem doomed to failure.

Austen Clark presents an analysis of sensory qualities that refutes such scepticism and offers the possibility of a solution to the problem of qualia. Drawing on work in psychophysics, psychometrics, and sensory neurophysiology, he analyses the character and defends the integrity of psychophysical explanations of qualitative facts, arguing that the structure of such explanations is sound and potentially successful. Clark gives a compact picture of that unified scheme that emerges from
this project and sketches its potential reduction to neurophysiology. He does not claim to have a full explanation or a complete reduction of qualitative facts; rather, he shows that a solution to the problem of sensory qualities is possible, and outlines the structures within which it may yet be
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Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 144 x 224 x 21mm | 458g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • line figures
  • 0198240015
  • 9780198240013

Table of contents

Explaining looks; matching and qualitative identity; quality space; different modalities; defining and identifying qualities; multidimensional scaling.
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Review quote

he cogently shows how psychophysiological data and theory may help resolve, or at least constrain the solutions to, several pervasive philosophical issues regarding sensory qualities. * Contemporary Psychology * `Clark's book presents a fair challenge to anti-physicalists: they must make explicit exactly what they require from an explanation of sensory qualities'
The Times Literary Supplement In Sensory Qualities, Austen Clark explains clearly and in useful detail the statistical techniques used for psychophysiologists to construct various sensory quality spaces. * Philosophical Psychology * Timely and welcome ... The presentation is informative and well argued, providing the best philosophical explication that I have seen of the conceptual structure of standard psychophysical explanation ... an important and much-needed contribution to the philosophy of psychology, one that subsequent discussions of qualia cannot afford to ignore. * The Philosophical Review * Anyone interested in a compact, sophisticated introduction to the study of sense impressions will be glad to find this book ... this systematic inquiry cannot but enrich the acquaintance which readers enjoy with their qualia. * Review of Metaphysics * In Sensory Qualities, Austen Clark explains clearly and in useful detail the statistical techniques used by psychophysiologists to construct various sensory quality spaces. * Philosophical Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1995 * Sensory Qualities is a clearly written, informative, and stimulating book ... contains clear accounts of interesting results in the psychophysics and neurophysiology of taste, smell and sound, and an appendix that explains the techniques of multidimensional scaling. Its major contribution ... is to have presented a fruitful and interesting way to think about the qualitative character of experience. It may not change minds about the standard
arguments against physicalistic theories of qualia, but, in my view, it should. * MIND *
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