Qualia: the subjectivity of our perceptions | Have you thought about it?

Surely with your friends or family more than once you have discussed the color of a given object. Maybe you see it green and your friends brown or you've talked about pain that produces for example an injectable and some speak of it as something almost unbearable and for others it is just a nuisance. At the end of those conversations you will have realized that people perceive some things differently, even if they come from something external that is the same for each other . Philosophers have studied this phenomenon and have named it: Qualia. Join us in Supercurious to deepen this philosophical concept, Qualia: the subjectivity of our perceptions. Had you thought about it?

Qualia: had you thought about the subjectivity of our perceptions?

Qualia: the subjectivity of our perceptions

The qualia always refer to the subjectivity of perceptions and therefore refer to consciousness. We understand as consciousness "the immediate knowledge that the subject has of himself, of his acts and reflections, and also the capacity of human beings to see and recognize themselves and to judge about that vision and recognition". Without consciousness there would be no qualia. The understanding of Qualia is one of the most important sections of the philosophy of the mind and many philosophers believe that their existence can not be explained by going only to neuroscience and cognitive science.

For the philosophy, the Qualia, in the singular «Quale», is the generic name that they take the subjective contents of the mind and correspond concretely to "qualitative sensations and ideas", a Examples of this are perceptions of concrete colors or feelings.

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Stanford University, in its Encyclopedia of Philosophy try to explain what Qualia are with an example. Ask the reader to imagine that he enters a paint shop and looks at a sample of brilliant turquoise blue and alive and then presents another sample of opaque brown. Surely the personal experience will be very different when observing the turquoise sample than the opaque brown. This difference is due to the phenomenal nature of the experience and is due to the fact that color is experienced from a subjective perspective. If you analyze this phenomenal character of the experience you will see that in it the person is aware of certain qualities . These qualities, of which we are aware when we analyze what we have felt and perform an introspection of experience, are the "qualia".

Thus, qualia can be defined as "The subjective qualities of individual experiences" , and they are given as examples "the redness of the red" or "the painfulness of the pain". Although some current philosophers discuss it, in general they agree that for there to exist we need direct or sensory experience . The qualia try to explain the emptiness that exists between the epiphenomenal qualities, which remain under the subjectivity of our perceptions, and the brain and also answer the question of how physical brain processes can have non-physical properties.

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If one takes the qualia concept widely, practically no one denies its existence, but some philosophers discuss which mental states have qualia, if qualia are intrinsic qualities of the bearers or how is the relation of these with the physical world. These discussions are aimed at determining and understanding how consciousness works and its nature, being the center of the problematic philosophical relationship "mind-body".

Daniel Dennett and the Qualia

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The American philosopher Daniel Dennett, one of the most outstanding philosophers of science in the field of cognitive sciences, has focused a part of his research and reflections on qualia. He has identified and specified four properties that qualia must have. So, for him, Qualia are ineffable, intrinsic, private and directly apprehensible in consciousness . Let's see what each one of these properties means:

  • Ineffable This means that "they can not be communicated or learned by means other than direct experience".
  • They are also Intrinsic , which means that "they are non-relational properties", that is, they do not change because of the experience of them related to other things.
  • Dennett says they are Private and with this he indicates that "interpersonal comparisons of these are systematically impossible" and that therefore you can not experience the qualia of another person.
  • And finally he tells us that they are « directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness «. Which means that when we experience a quale, we know that we are experiencing a quale and we can extract all the information that is possible to know about it.

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Focusing on the philosophical part of the qualia is certainly difficult, however it is very interesting to note that the experience we all have had of the qualia, when we realize that our perceptions are subjective, has been studied by philosophy and is one of the central themes of the "philosophy of the mind".

In addition to the Qualia, do not miss ...

Have you enjoyed reading this article? Here we leave you a series of suggestions related to the philosophy that may be of interest to you. ð ?????? Do you cheer up?

  • In Supercurioso we have entered into Who was Plato : we invite you to discover its exciting life, its thought and its curiosities.
  • We also think that you may be interested in going directly to the sources and knowing the philosophical thought of the hand of entries like Descartes phrases (architect of modern philosophy), Phrases of Schopenhauer (a philosophy as complex as it is beautiful) or Phrases by Bertrand Russell (the analytical philosophy).

Before saying goodbye, we encourage you to leave us a comment telling us all your impressions. Did you know about the existence of qualia? Had you thought about the subjectivity of our perceptions? Write to us; We will be happy to read you!

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