On the absence of phenomenology
We are all, I take it, unshakably sure that we are each in a special position to report, or to know, or to witness or experience a set of something-or-others we may call, as neutrally as possible, elements of our own conscious experience. In short, we all believe in the doctrine of privileged access, however much we disagree or are uncertain about what we mean by privilege and access. Yet trying to make sense of this well-entrenched and highly intuitive doctrine is a frustrating and tantalizing job, nor does denying the doctrine root and branch sit any more comfortably. There is a curious evanescence and incompleteness to philosophical accounts of privileged access, and I suspect the difficulty lies in the larger strategy philosophers have often quite reasonably adopted: they have set out to compose accounts of privileged access that are intuitive throughout, when in fact the only hope of giving any coherent account of any form of privileged access requires radical surgery on our intuitions, requires defending an initially counter-intuitive thesis.
Dennett, D. (1979)., On the absence of phenomenology, in D. Gustafson & B. Tapscott (eds.), Body, mind, and method, Dordrecht, Kluwer, pp. 93-113.
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