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A language for qualia: on verbal influence of the phenomenal
  • Sergei Kuzeev
Sergei Kuzeev
Eotvos Lorand University of Budapest

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Despite several decades of intense scrutiny, the problem of the “explanatory gap” remains one of the most topical issues in today’s cognitive sciences. This paper argues that, if re-articulated as the (relative) ineffability of phenomenal properties of sensory experiences, it can become an object of linguistic treatment to a sensible effect. The paper proceeds from discussing the problem of ineffability at large to a brief analysis of the current accounts of phenomenal mental states. It then proposes a tentative descriptive framework for phenomenal judgments, i.e. statements involving reference to the speaker’s qualia. The main argument of the paper consists in relativization of the ineffability thesis and in establishing that phenomenal contents can be communicated verbally via a special type of discursive units—-phenomemes—-by way of referencing relational properties of the sensory experiences in question. In the concluding section, the paper suggests that phenomemes constitute a narrative dimension and highlights the potential of further research on the subject for the pragmatics of communication, cognitive stylistics, and other areas of the language-related scholarship.