Posted by S.N on December 10, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Everyone has an opinion about anything. But to have an ineffable feeling while expressing that opinion is something that can be called “Qualia”. -at least that is my understanding of it for now.

My research of the term qualia is very hazy and obscure, probably because it’s like a ghost term that has not yet been 100% validated. I found different definitions for it. But why I chose to consider the term is because of the surface understanding I got from the general definitions and descriptions. 

In recent times, lots of people are being paranoid about seeing men with long beards or women covered in black. Some describes them as Muslims, or terrorists, and some as ISIS, but some experience feelings more than words.

My overall understanding is:

Let us say that fear is a subjective emotion, and that terrorists are always covered in a universal black identifiable uniform. 

Putting a woman covered in black in a public situation like a bus stop, would affect the people around her differently. People’s perception of that woman would be:

1- Just a quick recognition that the person is Muslim.

2- Would have an opinion of the attire.

3- Be Curious. Simply questioning themselves why would a person dress that way.

4- Feel fear that she is part terrorist/ extremist, because that is what they know.

5- Purely got afraid of seeing black in abundance, because subconsciously they related it to danger.

The closest situation of my understanding of qualia is #5. People aren’t generally afraid of black, but sometimes how the black and only black on a person evokes certain feelings. (examples, my presentation of black fabrics in different styles on people).

I feel that I could go further with qualia, but I need to have a greater knowledge background in certain subjects, maybe I will get back to qualia later on. It is really hards for me to grasp it, I need to work on it first before I would be able to connect it with my practice.

My findings on Qualia:

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Saturated colors are a commonly used example of a quale.

There are many definitions of qualia, which have changed over time. One of the simpler, broader definitions is: "The 'what it is like' character of mental states. The way it feels to have mental states such as pain, seeing red, smelling a rose, etc."

Clarence Irving Lewis, in his book Mind and the World Order (1929), was the first to use the term "qualia" in its generally agreed upon modern sense.

There are recognizable qualitative characters of the given, which may be repeated in different experiences, and are thus a sort of universals; I call these "qualia." But although such qualia are universals, in the sense of being recognized from one to another experience, they must be distinguished from the properties of objects. Confusion of these two is characteristic of many historical conceptions, as well as of current essence-theories. The quale is directly intuited, given, and is not the subject of any possible error because it is purely subjective.

Frank Jackson (1982) later defined qualia as "...certain features of the bodily sensations especially, but also of certain perceptual experiences, which no amount of purely physical information includes" (p. 273).

Daniel Dennett identifies four properties that are commonly ascribed to qualia. According to these, qualia are:

1 ineffable; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any other means than direct experience.

2 intrinsic; that is, they are non-relational properties, which do not change depending on the experience's relation to other things.

3 private; that is, all interpersonal comparisons of qualia are systematically impossible.

4 directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness; that is, to experience a quale is to know one experiences a quale, and to know all there is to know about that quale.

If qualia of this sort exist, then a normally sighted person who sees red would be unable to describe the experience of this perception in such a way that a listener who has never experienced color will be able to know everything there is to know about that experience. Though it is possible to make an analogy, such as "red looks hot", or to provide a description of the conditions under which the experience occurs, such as "it's the color you see when light of 700-nm wavelength is directed at you", supporters of this kind of qualia contend that such a description is incapable of providing a complete description of the experience.

Another way of defining qualia is as "raw feels". A raw feel is a perception in and of itself, considered entirely in isolation from any effect it might have on behavior and behavioral disposition. In contrast, a cooked feel is that perception seen as existing in terms of its effects. For example, the perception of the taste of wine is an ineffable, raw feel, while the experience of warmth or bitterness caused by that taste of wine would be a cooked feel. Cooked feels are not qualia.

According to an argument put forth by Saul Kripke in his paper "Identity and Necessity" (1971), one key consequence of the claim that such things as raw feels can be meaningfully discussed—that qualia exist—is that it leads to the logical possibility of two entities exhibiting identical behavior in all ways despite one of them entirely lacking qualia. While very few ever claim that such an entity, called a philosophical zombie, actually exists, the mere possibility is claimed to be sufficient to refute physicalism.

Arguments for the existence[edit]

See also: Hard problem of consciousness

Since it is by definition impossible to convey qualia verbally, it is also impossible to demonstrate them directly in an argument; so a more tangential approach is needed. Arguments for qualia generally come in the form of thought experiments designed to lead one to the conclusion that qualia exist.


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