The Idiosyncrasy Principle: A New Look at Qualia

M. Salti, D. Bergerbest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the study of consciousness, qualia, the individual subjective experience, is neglected. It remains impenetrable because the objective perspective used for scientific investigations misses its subjective nature. In 1974, Thomas Nagel suggested that studying qualia requires an “objective phenomenology method” whose goal would be to describe the subjective character of experiences in an independent manner. We introduce a corresponding theoretical and experimental framework based on the “idiosyncrasy principle.” Accordingly, subjectivity depends on the idiosyncratic composition of physical properties to qualia. This allows conceptualizing an idiosyncratic transfer function between the world and its representation. The main challenge in delineating such a transfer function is to come up with an objective measure for another person’s perspective. Numerosity, as opposed to other perceived contents of the physical world, allows reporting subjective experience in an objective manner. On the basis of this unique attribute of numerosity, we suggest a tentative neurocognitive research plan aimed at delineating such idiosyncratic transfer functions, permitting one person to adopt the perspective of another and linking qualia to its mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1794-1799
Number of pages6
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • consciousness
  • idiosyncrasy
  • individual differences
  • numerosity
  • qualia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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