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Philosophy Colloquium: Jonathan Cohen, “Many Molyneux Questions”
October 12, 2017 @ 3:15 pm - 5:00 pm
Stevenson Fireside Lounge
“Many Molyneux Questions”
Mohan Matthen and Jonathan Cohen
Molyneux asked whether a newly sighted man would recognize and distinguish a sphere and a cube by sight alone, assuming that he could previously do this by touch. The most historically important responses to Molyneux arise from views that apply uniformly to questions about the transferability of representations of (not just shape, but) any arbitrary feature shared by any two modalities. Our starting point is that this is over-simple. The scientific literature contains investigations of many such questions; some are answered positively, others negatively. The answer to each question is empirical and each has to be investigated separately. Given this fragmentation, we suggest that the most fruitful approach to MQ is “dimensional:” we identify and organize the problem around parameters that pose processing difficulties for various modalities, and ask how these difficulties affect MQ. This approach yields many novel MQs, some new, others re-applications of problems posed in other contexts.
Jonathan Cohen is a Professor of Philosophy at UC San Diego. He specializes in Philosophy of mind, language, and perception, particularly as these are informed by the cognitive sciences; color and color vision.
Advanced Reading: Molyneux Questions, p. 364 (pdf p. 186) to p. 399 (pdf p. 203).