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  1. Are phenomenological essences the case in every world? I believe they are a priori, but are they necessary and immutable? A stock example of an essence is the extension of white.

  2. We seem to experience essences, there is something it is like for colours to have extension, just as there's something it is like to experience colour. Is that right?


It seems strange to claim that a quale, an experience, is part of the structure of every possible world. Wouldn't that mean that some experience or other necessarily occurs? Or is it just wrong to say that logically necessary things must "occur"?

  • For most, possible worlds are a formal contrivance. Part of their structure is whatever it suits us to make so. Qualia are similar to haecceities, and those can be built in, see haecceitism. Beyond formal contexts, most phenomenologists (certainly Husserl) would reject semantics of possible worlds as inadequate account of possibility. And those who take possible worlds more metaphysically (like Lewis) are no phenomenologists. See also Deleuze vs Lewis on possible. – Conifold May 20 at 4:51
  • thanks, that makes sense @Conifold though it's not clear that you followed what i meant about it being "the case in every world" – another_name May 20 at 5:08
  • I wouldn't know, you wrote nothing specific about it. – Conifold May 20 at 5:13
  • maybe i need to phrase everything i say under an -ism, dunno @Conifold – another_name May 20 at 6:14
  • I like this question, that is if I understand it correctly... Maybe not use all -isms, just a little more context, more information: for those, like me, that may not have a answer or exactly know what you're talking about, but get interested by your question... – christo183 May 20 at 6:33
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Assuming the idea of phenomenological essence makes sense, some of the early moderns' systems could allow for existence across possible worlds, in a way. For Berkeley, any intelligible (hence possible) world is one of experiencing subjects and this might be sufficient to guarantee existence of familiar qualia (with some additional assumptions about what the experiencing subjects have to be like, but his views on God would bear on this). For Leibniz, too, since possible worlds are grounded in the thought of God, it might turn out that any possible world (i.e. compossible concepts of monads which God thinks) would contain some familiar qualia. If God's thought, just as his creation of the actual world, is governed by the Principle of the Best, then complex monads having our type of qualia might be part of any possible world in the mind of God. On some readings of Hume's theory of experience, perceptions (sense-data) can exist independently of perceivers. This might be a first step to making more intelligible the necessity of qualia without necessity of experiencing subjects.

  • this was a good answer, i felt, thanks. i like the hume reference, also. – another_name May 20 at 14:02
  • glad it was helpful – Pumpal May 22 at 2:07

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