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then had a thought with that very same content and . . . nothing. Or at
least nothing distinctly Bush-like, as in the ¬rst case. I just drew a blank,
realized my coffee was ¬nished, and moved on. To be honest, I am not
sure whether the drawing a blank or the phenomenal feel of realizing
my coffee was ¬nished was the phenomenology that accompanied the
thought that George Bush is president of the United States, or whether
I was mistaken in some more basic way about what my phenomenology
was, or about what thought I was entertaining.6
However, there is nothing unusual or weird about this, although I
don™t claim that everyone will ¬nd that they have the same results when
they attempt their own replication of the experiment. (It is instructive,
however, to try this out on a class of students, and note some of the wild
variation in what is reported. And things would no doubt get worse in
this respect were we to leave the sanctity of the philosophy classroom.)
Some, no doubt, will report as Horgan and Tienson themselves do. But
do these different results show that I was mistaken about what I thought,
or that I mischaracterized or just missed my phenomenology? No, phe-
nomenology is sometimes like that, tricky to coax out, dif¬cult to map
to states with speci¬c content, even ¬ckle or uncooperative. And not at-
tached unwaveringly to intentionality, at least at a relatively ¬ne-grained
level of determinacy.
Thus far, I have considered just one speci¬c thought in arguing for the
perhaps extreme-sounding conclusion that a thought can be entertained
by one person on two occasions and have a distinct phenomenology on
only one of them. Part of what I want to suggest is that even when mental
states have a certain prominence to them “ their content is easily articu-
lated, they are “before the mind™s eye,” they are shared by lots of people “
the notion of their having a distinctive phenomenology can remain puz-
zling. When we turn to mental states that are less prominent in these
respects, the puzzlement deepens. I remember from time to time that I
need to repair the spare tire for the car, continue to plan to spend less
time watching the seemingly endless hockey ¬nals, and occasionally won-
der about stranger things, such as whether metabolic systems must be
living. Sometimes these mental episodes are separated by months or by
years, and I am certainly in no position now to make a comparison of their
phenomenology. But even as mental life is going by it is dif¬cult to know
just what the phenomenology of these mundane and not so mundane
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
248

mental states is. This is not skepticism about phenomenology per se, but
about the idea that our ¬rst-person access to it can be unproblematically
granted at a relatively ¬ne grain of determinateness.
Modal intensity. This brings me to the sense in which phenomenology
cannot be separated from intentionality. As I have intimated, Horgan and
Tienson employ what I shall call the methodology of imaginative evocation
in motivating and discussing the inseparability thesis. That is, they pro-
vide possible scenarios that we are invited to imagine in order to convey
some idea of the sort of thing that the phenomenology of intentional
states is, why it exists, and why the inseparability thesis is true. But this
methodology, despite its increasing deployment in thinking about con-
sciousness, is inherently unsuited to making even a prima facie case for
anything but the modally weakest versions of the inseparability thesis,
namely, that phenomenology and intentionality are coincident in some
range of cases. To establish modally stronger theses through thought ex-
periment they would have to show that we cannot have intentional states
without a corresponding phenomenology (or phenomenology without
intentionality).
We might think, however, that their methodology issues at least a chal-
lenge to those who would deny the inseparability thesis: Given that their
examples putatively point to a general feature of intentional states, and
their inability to conjure mental states without a corresponding phe-
nomenology, the separatist must describe an occurrent, intentional state
that has no phenomenology at all. Yet even if we accept these discussions
as shifting the burden of proof in this way (and I am not sure that we
should), there are several problems here.
First, as I have indicated, I do not myself seem to have any problem in
identifying occurrent intentional states that lack a phenomenology (dis-
tinct from their intentionality) or, more accurately, whose phenomenol-
ogy I feel in no special position to identify with any degree of certainty.
Representationalists such as Gilbert Harman report similar abilities. Since
I trust the reports of Horgan and Tienson (or rather, I trust them no less
than I trust my own erstwhile introspective attempts), it seems that the
right conclusion to draw is that there can be differences in what the
methodology of imaginative evocation produces in this particular case.
The further conclusion that these differences are a result of one™s differ-
ent theoretical starting points is tempting. Such a conclusion would be
devastating for the methodology that Horgan and Tienson use.7
Loar employs the same methodology, putting particular emphasis on
a thought experiment that involves thinking of an isolated brain that
Intentionality and Phenomenology 249

has just the same phenomenal experience as you when you are having a
particular visual experience (say, seeing a lemon). Loar says he “will be
content if you grant at least a super¬cial coherence to the thought that
my isolated twin-in-a-vat has visual experiences exactly like mine.” But it
is dif¬cult to grant even this if your view is that brains need to be both
embodied and environmentally embedded, and actively so, in order to
provide the basis for any visual experience at all.8
As we saw in the previous chapter, precisely such a view has been re-
cently articulated and defended by Susan Hurley, J. Kevin O™Regan, and
Alva No¨ . For someone who thinks that embodiment and embeddedness
e
are essential features of visual experience, the thought Loar invites us
to entertain is no more and no less conceivable than is the thought that
there is a box ¬lled only with air that has just the visual experience that I
am having at a particular moment. Those who think that mere air could
instantiate mentality “ call them airheads “ are able to conceive some-
thing that those with this view of the relationship between experience,
embodiment, and embeddedness cannot.
Loar himself considers a version of the objection that phenomenology
is a product of theory rather than a re¬‚ection of the underlying mental
reality (of intentional qualia). He says:

Theory does have a bearing, it is true. But theory does not create the phenomenol-
ogy. From a neutral position there is a certain phenomenology of perceptual ex-
perience. What is missing from the neutral position is a conception of the nature
of what is thereby presented.9

The bearing that theory has, on Loar™s view, concerns how the phe-
nomenology is interpreted, not whether there is a phenomenology there
to be interpreted. Yet precisely this latter issue is raised by the version of
the objection being pressed.
Second, the modally strongest version of the inseparability thesis is vul-
nerable to the conceivability of momentary zombies, individuals who nearly
always have a phenomenology that accompanies their intentionality, but
who sometimes (perhaps due to hardware noise) fail to have a phe-
nomenology. Momentary zombies have a phenomenology just like ours,
except occasionally there is a gap in it, and they are momentarily zombies.
Momentary zombiehood is much easier to concede than full-blooded
zombiehood, and surely it is plausible with respect to at least some inten-
tional states (consider, again, the propositional attitudes). If momentary
zombies are possible, then it is possible for there to be particular inten-
tional states without an accompanying phenomenology. But I also think it
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
250

is plausible that we are momentary zombies, perhaps due to information-
processing bottlenecks and other limitations of our consciousness, with
respect to at least some of the intentional states that Horgan and Tienson
appeal to. I ¬nd this particularly plausible with regard to the example of
what Galen Strawson has called understanding-experience, being the expe-
rience of hearing “someone speaking non-technically in a language one
understands,” and which I sometimes ¬nd I have, and sometimes not. In
any case, the general point is that modally strong versions of the insep-
arability thesis are particularly vulnerable to relatively tame versions of
some standard thought experiments.10
Quanti¬cational range. If one concedes that there are dispositional in-
tentional states, such as belief and desire, then the scope of the insepara-
bility thesis needs to be restricted at least to occurrent intentional states,
or to dispositional states when they are occurrent. But does the thesis
need to be restricted further, not just to occurrent states but to those
occurrent states of which one is conscious? One reason to think so is that
if we think of occurrent states at a given time as those that govern our
behavior at that time, those of which we are conscious at that time will be
a proper subset of our occurrent states. But it is not clear that occurrent
states of which we are not conscious at a given time have any more of a
phenomenology than do nonoccurrent states. I noticed a short while ago
that the room was getting dark and that I should turn on a desk lamp; I
noticed more recently that I have been squinting at the papers scattered
on my desk in the enveloping dark. It is plausible to think that my want-
ing to continue reading guided my squinting behavior although there
was no phenomenology of that occurrent state prior to my re¬‚ecting on
my behavior. (How could there be?. I was not aware of this aspect of my
behavior, and it came as a surprise to me to realize just what I was do-
ing.) This suggests that there are at least two “levels” of intentional states
for which there is no phenomenology, the purely dispositional and the
merely occurrent.
Horgan and Tienson explicitly restrict their thesis of the phenomenol-
ogy of intentionality to intentional states when they are conscious. But
one wonders what this amounts to in light of the following passage:

The full-¬‚edged phenomenal character of sensory experience is an extraordinar-
ily rich synthetic unity that involves complex, richly intentional, total phenomenal
characters of visual-mode phenomenology, tactile-mode phenomenology, kines-
thetic body-control phenomenology, auditory and olfactory phenomenology, and
so forth “ each of which can be abstracted more or less from the total experience
to be the focus of attention.11
Intentionality and Phenomenology 251

On this conception, phenomenology outstrips attention. On one read-
ing, one that equates attention with consciousness, there is phenomenol-
ogy of which one is not conscious. (But how then do you tell what its
content is?)
Alternatively, if Horgan and Tienson are equating consciousness with
phenomenology, they are saying that we only attend to a portion of our
conscious experience. But what is the status of the phenomenal content of
that unattended portion of our conscious experience? Does it exist, and
if so, how do we know its nature (since, by hypothesis, we do not attend
to it)? If we do not know the phenomenal content, then it is plausible to
think that such states have no more speci¬c phenomenal content than
do dispositional states.
The point here is that the phenomenology of intentionality begins to
look more restricted in the range of states it applies to at any given time
than one might initially think: The dispositional, the merely occurrent,
and the unattended all seem to be precluded. If the inseparability thesis is
true, then it seems that it is true of a much more restricted set of states than
simply all intentional and all phenomenological states. In light of that,
the thesis loses a lot of the punch that it packs vis-` -vis traditional views
a
of the mind that operate on the assumption that there is no necessary or
deep connection between the intentional and the phenomenal.
A different sort of problem in the scope of the thesis arises in Loar™s
discussion of phenomenal intentionality and intentional qualia. Loar
builds up a case for phenomenal intentionality by considering perceptu-
ally based concepts, then generalizes to recognitional concepts, spatial
concepts, and socially deferential concepts. But apart from the special
case where we re¬‚ect on such concepts and their instances we do not,
in our everyday experience, have any phenomenology of these concepts,
any more than we have any phenomenology of the individual phonemes
or distinctive features that make up the stream of speech we have auditory
experience of. The stream of consciousness is not, without special prod-
ding, segmented into constituents such as concepts. It seems primarily in
the hands of philosophers that our experience can become segmented
and particularized, in much the way that it was atomized in the hands of
that master introspectionist, Wilhelm Wundt.12
This reference to Wundt may remind us that neither introspection
nor phenomenology is simply a matter of turning one™s mind inward and
reporting what one ¬nds. What one ¬nds in one™s own experience will
depend in part on what one is looking for, the background perspective
that one brings to this ¬rst-person task.
Thinking Through and Beyond the Body
252

4 phenomenal intentionality
So far I have not argued that the inseparability thesis is false, but that
there are three dimensions of strength “ scope, modality, and determi-
nateness “ on which it rates lowly. The point here is to de¬‚ate (not refute)
the inseparability thesis, for surely only a skeptic about the phenomenal
would refuse to concede that versions of the thesis weakened on each of
the forgoing dimensions are true. Along the way I have raised, in passing,
some doubts about the suitability of the methodology on which Horgan,
Tienson, and Loar rely in gesturing at what the phenomenology of inten-
tionality is. Rather than develop these doubts here directly I shall turn to
consider phenomenal intentionality itself and what its proponents claim
about it. Again, the chief point will not be to show that such a property
does not exist, but that the most plausible way of understanding it makes
it unlikely that what its proponents claim about it is true.
Horgan and Tienson characterize phenomenal intentionality as a
“kind of intentional content, pervasive in human life, such that any two
possible phenomenal duplicates have exactly similar intentional states
vis-` -vis such content.” Although this sounds stipulative, it is not, since
a
Horgan and Tienson continue by arguing for the thesis through imagi-
native evocation. As I noted in the previous section, this style of argument
does not seem well suited to the modally strong conclusion they seek, ex-
cept insofar as it shifts the burden of proof to those who deny phenom-
enal intentionality. Yet it remains open to skeptics here to concede that
there can be a sort of phenomenal intentionality that is nonconceptual
but balk at the claim that the same is true of the conceptual realm. For
although ex hypothesi phenomenal duplicates share all their phenomenal
states, we are to show, not assume, that they share cognitive structures
that are genuinely intentional, such as concepts or beliefs.13
As part of their bridge from phenomenology to intentionality, Horgan
and Tienson distinguish between “two ways of thinking about truth
conditions: as determined wholly by phenomenology, and as determined
in part by items in the experiencer™s environment that satisfy the expe-
riencer™s phenomenology.” The former of these, they argue, are narrow
and more fundamental than the latter. In their discussion, through imag-
inative evocation, they invite each reader to compare him or herself to
both a Twin Earth doppelg¨ nger and a “Cartesian duplicate.” The latter of
a
these has thoughts purporting to refer to someone named “Bill Clinton,”
but these lack reference altogether since there is no thing at all that
satis¬es that putative reference for a Cartesian duplicate. Here it seems
Intentionality and Phenomenology 253

that Horgan and Tienson allow that some phenomenal duplicates (for
example, those in no environment) may have mental states that have
no wide truth conditions and so no wide intentionality at all. But if at
least some phenomenal duplicates differ in that one has concepts with
ordinary (wide) satisfaction conditions, while the other does not, then
the defender of phenomenal intentionality must have available a way of
articulating the intentionality that such duplicates share that is indepen-
dent of their wide intentionality. Whether phenomenology alone suf¬ces
for intentionality given the complete severance to wide intentionality, as
in the case of Cartesian duplicates or brains-in-a-vat, might reasonably be
questioned. A more developed account of something like “phenomenal
intentionality” could silence doubts here.14
Brian Loar provides an account that purports to do the trick. To

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