Abstract: My thesis is that perceptual awareness itself is richly multisensory. I argue for this conclusion on the grounds that certain forms of multisensory perceptual experience are incompatible with the claim that each aspect of a perceptual experience is associated with some specific sensory modality or another. First, I explicate what it is for some feature of a conscious perceptual episode to be associated with a given modality, or to be modality specific, since no clear criterion yet exists in the literature on multisensory perception. Then, I argue based on philosophical and experimental evidence that some novel intermodal features are perceptible only through the coordinated use of multiple senses. The cases to which I appeal involve consciously perceptible feature instances and feature types that could not be perceptually experienced through the use of individual sense modalities working on their own or simply in parallel. Thus, not every feature of a conscious perceptual episode is associated with some specific modality or another. Finally, I offer an account of how to type perceptual experiences by modality that makes room for richly multisensory experiences. The key is rejecting the presumption that perceptual experiences apportion neatly into modality-specific components – an experience’s being visual does not preclude its being auditory.
Pre-reading: The Multisensory Character of Perception
About: Casey O’Callaghan is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. Research Interests: Focus on philosophical questions about perception, auditory perception and the nature of its objects.