Qualia! (Now Showing at a Theater near You)

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Qualia! (Now Showing at a Theater near You) by Eric Lormand

Quote:Qualia! is a bold drama about qualia. On more cautious stories, to say that a mental state has "qualia" is to say that there is something it’s like to be in that mental state. If there are any states with qualia, any states it’s like something to be in, the clearest examples are conscious "experiences," namely: conscious perceptual representations, such as tastings and visual experiences; conscious bodily sensations, such as pains, tickles, and itches; conscious imaginings, such as those of one’s own actions or perceptions; and conscious streams (or trains) of thought, as in thinking "in words" or "in images." We sometimes try to describe the particular qualia of these experiences, for example, by saying that a given pain is "sharp" or "throbbing" to some degree, or that a given visual image is "blurry" or "moving." Qualia! is bold in its portrayal of qualia properties as having several second-order properties (or characters) that seem to resist familiar kinds of scientific explanation.

Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)

Intrinsicness (also appearing as: nonrelationality, nondispositionality, reaction-independence)

To say that a quale Q is "intrinsic" to a conscious experience is to say that only things that are part of the experience help constitute what the experience is like as regards Q. Other things, such as the stimuli that may cause the experience or the behavior and further mental states that it may cause, do not seem even partially to constitute its having the quale.

Directness (also appearing as: immediacy, intimacy, acquaintance, noninferentiality)

To say that one has "direct" access to a quale Q is to say that one can acquire evidence about the Q-ness of one’s experiences without the kinds of inference one needs about the mental states of other people. One does not appear always to use such inferences in one’s own case–most clearly, in detecting what it’s like to have one’s current conscious experiences.

Reliability (also appearing as: privilege, intimacy) – Understudies: infallibility, incorrigibility

To say that one has "reliable" access to a quale Q is to say that one has a source of evidence about the Q-ness of one’s experiences that is more reliable than one’s access to other empirical facts, or perhaps that is even infallible.

Unanalyzability (also appearing as: atomicity, simplicity, homogeneity, grainlessness)

To say that a quale Q is "unanalyzable" is at least to say that what an experience is like as regards Q is not wholly constituted by what it or any other experience is like in other regards. Perhaps few think that all qualia are unanalyzable; for example, what we might be tempted to call a "round, red quale" may be analyzable into "roundness qualia" and "redness qualia." But many would say that some qualia–perhaps, "points" of color qualia–are unanalyzable into simpler qualia. What it’s like (normally) to see red does not seem to reduce, perhaps not even partially, to what it’s like to see anything else.

Ineffability (also appearing as: inexpressibility, incommunicability)

To say that a quale Q is "ineffable" is at least to say that only subjects who have had Q-experiences understand what it is for an experience to have Q. It seems impossible for one to understand what it’s like without having undergone what it’s like, and impossible for a subject to specify what it’s like verbally or otherwise.<3>**

Privacy (also appearing as: subjectivity)

To say that a quale Q is "private" is to say that it is impossible for one to confirm adequately the hypothesis that someone else’s experience has quale Q, even when one is in a position to form the hypothesis (i.e., even neglecting or overcoming the alleged ineffability of Q). This notion of "adequate" confirmation must be specified carefully. For example, on views according to which qualia supervene on precise total brain state (or machine state, or even soul state), one might in fanciful cases know that two subjects are having the same qualia by knowing that they are in precisely the same total brain (machine, soul) state. On other views according to which qualia supervene on limited aspects of brain (machine, soul) state, one might know such comparative facts in less fanciful cases. But this would merely give one knowledge that the subjects have two sets of qualia that are the same or different, whatever they turn out to be, specifically. In other words, it would not give one noncomparative knowledge of another’s qualia. We might then cast the alleged privacy of qualia as the impossibility of noncomparative tests of another’s specific qualia.<4>**
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2018-11-28, 10:56 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
(2018-11-28, 10:55 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Qualia! (Now Showing at a Theater near You) by Eric Lormand

Mainly an argument against Daniel Dennett's attempted denial of the ineffability, unanalyzability, etc. of "qualia". Mostly for professional philosophers. Dennett thinks consciousness is an illusion. A reductio ad absurdum. As has been pointed out by others, this makes the elementary fallacy of not realizing that for something to be an illusion there must still be a conscious experiencer of the illusion. If consciousness is an illusion, who or what is being fooled? No explanatory value.
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