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he philosopher Michael Tye argues that it is impossible to experience one’s own subjective experience. That is, we cannot be aware of what our own experience is like. All we can do is experience the objects that are visible or audible etc., to us. He writes:
When Eloise sees a tree before her, the colors she experiences are all experienced as features of the tree and its surroundings. None of them are experienced as intrinsic features of her experience. Nor does she experience any features of anything as intrinsic features of her experience. And that is true of you too. There is nothing special about Eloise’s visual experience. When you see a tree, you do not experience any features as intrinsic features of your visual experience. [All you experience are the features of the tree that you are seeing]. I predict you will find that the only features there to turn your attention to will be features of the presented tree.”
Reflect upon your own visual, auditory, tactile, and taste experiences. Does what Tye says seem right to you? Why or why not? Describe the aspects of your experience. Do you think Tye’s observation about being unable to experience one’s own subjective experiences is problematic for the lessons Nagel draws about the nature of conscious experience in “What is it like to be a Bat?”