Andrea Togni

Individuating the senses: The experiential-ontological criterion and the subtractive criterion

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Keywords: Individuation of the Senses; Experiential Criterion; Experientialontological Criterion; Subtractive Criterion; Philosophy of Perception.

The debate on the individuation of the senses tackles the questions of what the senses are and of how they can be distinguished from the others. According to the experiential criterion, "the senses are phenomenological states and each one can be distinguished from the others thanks to its peculiar phenomenal character". The defenders of the experiential criterion have to deal with objections regarding the diaphanous nature of qualia, the subjectivity of perceptual experiences, the difficulty of defining what a phenomenal character is without making reference to the representational contents of perceptions, and so on. In this paper, I submit two new complementary versions of the experiential criterion that can escape the classic objections to the phenomenological approach. According to the experiential-ontological criterion, the study of the senses is an ontological matter, and each sensory modality is associated to a peculiar perceptual reality. According to the subtractive criterion, each sensory modality can incur two kinds of switching-off by humans; 2) Sensory modalities normally incur temporary switching-offs. For example, when we close our eyes or enter a dark room, a peculiar kind of experiences stops temporarily. Each sensory modality provides experiences of temporary switching-offs that enjoy some kinds of empirical regularity. The aim of this paper is to outline the main features of the experiential-ontological criterion and of the subtractive criterion, in order to provide a new insight into the debates on the individuation of the senses and on the experiential criterion.: 1) Total switching-offs happen when a perceiver is born without a particular sensory modality (as is the case with congenitally blind or deaf people), when she has lost a sensory modality during her adult life, and in the case of possible or animal sensory modalities that are not enjoyed

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