International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


On pink elephants, floating daggers, and other philosophical myths

Juan C. González

pp. 193-211


Many philosophers and scientists rightly take hallucinations to be phenomena that challenge in a most pressing way our theories of perception and cognition, and epistemology in general. However, very few challenge the received views on the hallucinatory experience and even fewer critically delve into the subject with both breadth and depth. There are all kinds of problems concerning hallucinations—including conceptual, methodological, and empirical issues—that call for a multilevel analysis and an interdisciplinary approach which in turn provide the detail and scope that the subject demands. In this paper, I present and briefly discuss four interrelated problems: (1) definitions, (2) dependence on perception, (3) two views on hallucinations, and (4) methodology. Neglect or underestimation of these problems, among other things, continue to prevent a proper understanding of the concept and the corresponding experience, giving rise to misconceptions and even plain myths on the subject. Hallucinations do occur; but in order to productively investigate them (for whatever end), we first need to get clear on the concept and develop a suitable epistemological framework for their analysis.

Publication details

Published in:

González Juan C. (2010). Hallucinations. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (2).

Pages: 193-211

DOI: 10.1007/s11097-010-9164-0

Full citation:

González Juan C. (2010). On pink elephants, floating daggers, and other philosophical myths. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (2), pp. 193-211.