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propositional content of the latter. If I have another such recurrent pain
in my thigh, it will likely cause me to believe that I have a pain in my
thigh. But if I am attentionally preoccupied, or tired or drowsy, then I
could experience one or the other of these pains without forming the
corresponding belief. I know that I was or even am in pain, but I don™t
know just which pain it is. (Suppose that I have both kinds of pain regu-
larly, and they are not all that phenomenologically distinctive from one
another.) Maybe I form the wrong belief here, or maybe I form no belief
at all. Perhaps I simply register discomfort somewhere or other in my leg,
not conceptualizing it as pain, or as more speci¬cally located.
Suppose we view such states as being thoughtlike, so that they fall
under the ¬rst horn of Dretske™s dilemma. Then according to Dretske
they should inherit their content from that of the thoughtlike states to
which they are causally related. Yet it is dif¬cult to say just what this
content is precisely because the relevant thoughtlike states are ¬‚eeting
and poorly attended. But insofar as they have a clearly speci¬able content,
it seems doubtful that their content is itself wide. Since it both pertains
to a condition of one™s body and is suitably general (because vague),
it seems that at least embodied doppelg¨ ngers must share it. There can
be no externalist contagion from the thoughtlike to the phenomenal if
the thoughtlike states themselves are individualistic. When I think “I feel
discomfort around here,” thinking of what is in fact a pain in my knee but
which I do not conceptualize as such, then this is a state that would seem to
be shared by anything identical to me in its intrinsic, physical properties.
Even though there will be representational descriptions that doppelg¨ ngers
need not share (for example, I have a pain in my knee), they are not the only
thoughtlike states that one may have. Thus, the thoughtlike character of
some phenomenal states does not entail externalism.
Suppose, on the other hand, that we view such phenomenal states as
not being thoughtlike (and so as falling under Dretske™s second horn).
Then Dretske™s claim is, in effect, that such states are unknowable, and
that we thereby lack a way of individuating them. Thus, we have no basis
for saying that they are either identical or different in any particular pair
of cases. This claim is effective in undermining the use to which individ-
ualists put Twin Earth“styled arguments about phenomenal states, which
is part of Dretske™s own aim here, and it rightly ¬‚ags some signi¬cant
limits to the ¬rst-person knowledge we have of phenomenal states. Yet we
Expanding Consciousness 229

should reject the more general claim that phenomenal states lack criteria
of individuation unless they are thoughtlike.
Again, consider the state of pain that leads me to be in the thought-
like state “I feel discomfort around here.” Even if we think of this state of
pain itself as not thoughtlike, we can still individuate it by reference to
the relevant entity-bounded system. As I said in Chapter 5, states of pain
form part of the nociceptive system, and at least as conceptualized within
the medical communities that focus on pain (anesthetists, oncologists,
pharmacologists, for example), this is an entity-bounded system, and so
locationally individualistic. On this view, the principal entity that is indi-
viduated is the nociceptive system, and the individuation of various states
of the system is derivative. The nociceptive system in a particular overall
state will instantiate pain (say, rather than a tickle, or nothing at all), or
pain with a certain representational content, because that is the kind of
state that this type of system instantiates. In short, the systemic concep-
tion of individuation and realization defended in Part Two provides a way
of resisting the second horn of Dretske™s argument. Thus, denying the
thoughtlike character of at least some phenomenal states does not entail
Consider a variant on the simple example I have focused on so far to
clarify what this response to Dretske™s argument for global externalism
shows, and what it suggests is special about at least some phenomenal
states. I have granted that states of pain have a representational content
but argued that this concession does not entail externalism about phe-
nomenal states via either horn of Dretske™s dilemma. There is something
right about Dretske™s argument, but it does not lead to global externalism
about phenomenal states.
Suppose I feel a strong pain in my left knee for about ¬ve seconds, and
so come to think
There is a strong pain in my left knee that has lasted about ¬ve seconds.

The representational content of this thought concerns the strength, lo-
cation, and duration of the pain. We might think, ¬rst, that we can thus
individuate the pain itself by the corresponding content: It is strong, oc-
curs in my left knee, has lasted about ¬ve seconds, and so on. And, second,
that such content must be narrow. But consider a doppelg¨ nger who lives
in a community that uses “knee” to refer to what we call the knee, plus
the lower half of the thigh area, yet (here, mistakenly) thinks that knees
are just the joint area in the middle of the leg. Suppose that we each
undergo two pains, the ¬rst in what we each think of as our knees, the
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body

second in the lower part of our thighs. Then the thought that we each
report by saying
The ¬rst pain was in my knee but the second was not

is one whose wide content differs, depending on which one of us has the
thought. And so if the pain itself is individuated in terms of this content,
then it is an externalist state.
About this, I think Dretske is correct. Since the sort of content that
is typically ascribed to phenomenal states is subject to precisely this sort
of point, the representational nature of phenomenal states often entails
taxonomic externalism about the phenomenal. Perhaps paradoxically,
this is particularly true of the content typically reported in the ¬rst-person,
since we tend to characterize our own states more precisely and in richer
detail using a public language than we do the states of others.
Yet contra Dretske, representationalism doesn™t strictly entail such ex-
ternalism because one can individuate pains other than via this kind of
propositional content. In fact, there are at least two different ways to
do so that together constitute the basis for a response to both halves of
the dilemma that Dretske poses. First, there remains a kind of content “
vaguer, more general, and bodily “ for which such Twin Earth examples
cannot be constructed (and so the ¬rst horn can be grasped). Second, we
can individuate states in terms of the systems of which they are a part, and
in the case of at least pain and presumably bodily sensations these are en-
tity bounded. Thus, there remains a path to an individualistic scheme of
individuation for those phenomenal states that is independent of their
connections to any kind of content (and so the second horn can be
One might wonder whether this response can be generalized in ei-
ther of two ways. First, might a version of the ¬rst half of the response
also apply to the propositional attitudes themselves? Some proponents of
narrow content, such as Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit, and Stephen White,
have suggested that there is such a notion of general narrow content. Sec-
ond, could a version of the second half of the response be generalized
to apply to phenomenal states in general? This would support the idea
that externalism stops with the intentional and need not infect all of the
phenomenal, some of which remains individualistic. I think that neither
of these generalizations is warranted.8
Consider the ¬rst. The notion of narrow content for states of pain and
bodily sensations is quite restricted; I have suggested that it does not apply
even to such states in general. Our usual ways of thinking about our own
Expanding Consciousness 231

states of pain and bodily sensations make use of the same public language
used to specify the content of our intentional states. Dretske is correct in
holding that phenomenal states, so speci¬ed, inherit the wide content of
the concepts employed here. Yet there remains something it is like to have
such states that can be speci¬ed more vaguely and generally that does not
make implicit commitments to how the physical or social world beyond
the individual is. Once we move to other sorts of phenomenal states,
such as those of visual experience, or to the propositional attitudes more
generally, the Dretskean point about the inheritance of width applies
so broadly that talk of narrow content appears misplaced. To claim, for
example, that the narrow content of
There is some water

There is some drinkable, transparent, sailable-on kind of stuff

There is some stuff that I use “water” to refer to

is perhaps to identify a psychological state that some doppelg¨ ngers share.9
Yet that state and the content it has is not truly narrow, since doppelg¨ ngers
may differ with respect to them. The sort of content that we would need
would be something like
There is some watery stuff

where “watery stuff ” refers to stuff that has the appearance of water. Even
were this individualistic (which I doubt), note that it is not something that
has the same meaning as “There is some water,” and not something that
individuals need be in position to use to characterize their own internal
states, since they may lack the concept “watery stuff.”
Whether phenomenology itself might be suf¬cient to determine an
individualistic form of content is something I shall discuss in more detail
in the next chapter. My point here is simply that the relationship be-
tween phenomenology and content may vary depending on the type of
phenomenal state we are considering, and this is suf¬cient to undermine
the ¬rst generalization, from the restricted appeal to narrow content that
I have made.
Consider, more brie¬‚y, the second generalization, one that general-
izes on the appeal to entity-bounded systems. Why not simply appeal to a
range of entity-bounded cognitive systems “ for belief, for perception, for
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body

motivation, for emotion “ in order to undermine Dretske™s claim that phe-
nomenal states divorced from language cannot be individuated? There
are two reasons, perhaps familiar in light of our discussion in earlier
chapters. First, whether any given system is entity bounded or wide is not
simply “up to us,” something we invent rather than discover. Rather, that
is resolved by looking to the relevant sciences: How do they taxonomize
the kinds of system that they traf¬c in? Second, perception, memory, and
folk psychology all constitute cognitive systems that are not just taxonom-
ically but locationally externalist, at least when we consider the full range
of their uses. Given this, it is plausible to view entity-bounded cognitive
systems as the exception, rather than the rule. Pain and bodily sensa-
tions are two paradigms of mental states realized by such systems. Their
assimilation to physiological systems together with the limited role that
wide content plays in their individuation, is a rare combination for cog-
nitive states. For example, I doubt that either feature holds of all forms
of visual experience, particularly given the locationally externalist view of

6 tesee and sensory experience
In the previous section I intimated that even though Dretske™s dilemma
could be averted in at least the case of pain and bodily sensations, it re-
tained its force against its primary target, individualistic accounts of visual
experience. I have also suggested that the TESEE view of consciousness
applies both to processes of awareness and to phenomenal states. In light
of this pair of points it seems most plausible to develop the TESEE view for
visual experience in the ¬rst instance, stepping back to consider sensory
experience and then phenomenal states more generally once we gain a
foot in the door of the phenomenal.
The TESEE view holds that consciousness is temporally extended, scaf-
folded, and embodied and embedded. As with the application of the
TESEE view to processes of awareness in sections 3 and 4, developing a
TESEE view of visual experience requires reconceptualizing the relevant
aspect of consciousness. Such a rethinking of the nature of visual expe-
rience is underway and has been facilitated by a more general paradigm
change in the study of vision. Traditional views of vision conceive of it as
passive, internal, and essentially in the business of generating rich internal
representations. Much of the work on vision over the last dozen years or
so within the cognitive sciences has self-consciously contrasted itself with
tradition here and conceptualized vision as active, embedded, and essen-
tially in the business of generating action. For example, the psychologists
Expanding Consciousness 233

David Milner and Mel Goodale have reinterpreted the original distinc-
tion between the “what” and “where” visual systems in the ventral and
dorsal processing streams as systems for, respectively, perception and the
guidance of action. They remind us that “vision evolves in the ¬rst place,
not to provide perception of the world per se, but to provide distal sen-
sory control of the many different movements that organisms make.” The
computer scientist Dana Ballard distinguishes literalist from functional-
ist views of visual representations, the latter of whose “principal tenet is
that the machinery of the brain has to be accountable to the observed
external behaviour, and that there are many ways to do this other than
positing literal data structures.”10
While such views stop short of reenvisioning the kind of experience
that we call visual, they make that reenvisioning possible. I shall discuss
two ways in which a rethinking of visual experience has been undertaken
recently. Both involve abandoning or signi¬cantly tempering the idea that
particular states of an individual are phenomenal in and of themselves,
and in light of this they have broader implications for our thinking about
The ¬rst of these views has been articulated by the philosopher Alva
No¨ and the psychologist J. Kevin O™Regan as part of their sensorimotor the-
ory of visual consciousness. Developed speci¬cally as a view of visual experi-
ence, their view holds that seeing is a kind of act that involves an organism
actively exploring its environment. This activity is governed by what they
call sensorimotor contingencies, knowledge of which is gained through
active exploration of an environment, and whose acquisition constitutes
the acquisition of the relevant experience. As O™Regan and No¨ say, visual
experience is “the activity of exploring the environment in ways mediated
by knowledge of the relevant sensorimotor contingencies.”11
To explain this view on an intuitive level and how it departs from
traditional views of visual experience, No¨ draws an illuminating parallel
between visual and tactile perception. Seeing a bottle is more like tactilely
feeling a bottle than it is like taking a picture of a bottle. When you have
a bottle in your hands, you only make contact with a part of the bottle
at any given time, although you feel the bottle, not simply some part
of it. That is how you would naturally report your experience, in any
case. Moreover, you move your hands to actively explore the bottle in
perceiving it, and this interaction with the sensed environment is not a
way of taking a series of tactile snapshots of the bottle in order to infer
that it is a bottle. Rather, the active manipulation of the bottle is your
tactile experience of it. The tactile experience is not some event inside
you, but something that you undergo in your active exploration. Tactile
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experience, so conceived, is temporally and spatially extended, and since
it requires active exploration of objects in the environment, it is also
clearly embodied and embedded.12
One of the strengths of the sensorimotor view is that it provides a natu-
ral way to interpret a range of cases where sensory experience itself seems
to involve or require either explicit or intended action on the part of the
subject. These include well-known cases of adaptation to left-right invert-
ing lenses and those involving change blindness, where scene change


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