Book

Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

J. Kevin O'Regan

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199775224
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919031 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199775224.001.0001
Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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This book proposes a novel view to explain how we as humans—contrary to current robots—can have the impression of consciously feeling things: for example the red of a sunset, the smell of a rose, the sound of a symphony, or a pain. The book starts off by looking at visual perception. Our ability to see turns out to be much more mysterious than one might think. The eye contains many defects which should seriously interfere with vision. Yet we have the impression of seeing the world in glorious panavision and technicolor. Explaining how this can be the case leads to a new idea about what seeing really is. Seeing is not passively receiving information in the brain, but rather a way of interacting with the world. The role of the brain is not to create visual sensation, but to enable the necessary interactions with the world. This new approach to seeing is extended in the second part of the book to encompass the other senses: hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Taking sensory experiences to be modes of interacting with the world explains why these experiences are different in the way they are. It also explains why thoughts or automatic functions in the body, and indeed the vast majority brain functions, are not accompanied by any real feeling. The “sensorimotor” approach is not simply a philosophical argument: It leads to scientifically verifiable predictions and new research directions. Among these are the phenomena of change blindness, sensory substitution, “looked but failed to see”, as well as results on color naming and color perception and the localization of touch on the body.

Keywords: feeling; visual perception; seeing; visual sensation; sensory experiences; sensorimotor approach; color perception; hearing; touch

Book.  224 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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Table of Contents

The Catastrophe of the Eye in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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A New View of Seeing in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Applying the New View of Seeing in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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The Illusion of Seeing Everything in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Some Contentious Points in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Toward Consciousness in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Types of Consciousness in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Squeeze a Sponge, Drive a Porsche in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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Consciously Experiencing a Feel in Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell

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