By Enrique Villanueva
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Our knowing about these properties in the first instance by way of the conscious cases does not show that they cannot occur nonconsciously, nor that there is anything problematic about them. Common sense does not sustain the idea that sensory quality is problematic. Nor is there reason t o hold that the similarities and differences on which that account relies cannot obtain except when the sensation in question is conscious. We can accurately and fully capture these similarities and differences on the basis of the relevant homomorphisms, independently of whether the sensory states in question are conscious.
The argument for this thesis is a bit complex, but the central idea behind it can be given a simple formulation: the concept of an intrinsic intentional mental state is the concept of something that has a n aspectual shape. All representation is under aspects. You can see this, if it is not obvious on its face, by reminding yourself that mental contents are possible or actual contents of thoughts or experiences. What you can believe, you have t o be able to think; and what you can perceive, you have t o be able to experience perceptually.
Since sensory states need not be conscious, their sensory qualities are independent of their being conscious. So the characteristic quality that, on the perceptual model, being conscious introduces must be distinct from the sensory qualities that sensations already have. 16 The only alternative is that a mental state's being conscious consists in one's having a thought that one is in that very mental state, a thought based on neither observation nor inference. ) On this theory, the relevant higher-order thought will not itself be a conscious thought unless we have a yet higher-order thought.
Consciousness (Philosophical Issues Series No 1) by Enrique Villanueva