About this topic
Summary Qualia (singular: quale) are those properties of conscious mental states or events that determine 'what it is like' for the subject of those states or events to undergo them. Paradigm examples of qualia include the particular painfulness of some pain state, the sensation of being tickled, the taste of lemon, or the smell of fresh mown grass. Somewhat more contested examples might include 'primary qualities' presented in perception, such as shape or number; emotions such as feelings of elation or a sensation of creeping depression; or qualititive features that may accompany cognition (such as one's 'internal monologue', or the feeling of something being 'on the tip of one's tongue'). Even within the canonical range of qualia the notion is contested, and some argue that we cannot make clear sense of it at all. If it can be made sense of, then a key question is whether qualia are irreducibly nonphysical, or alternatively can be naturalised through reduction to or identification with some physical or functional property. Questions also arise about our knowledge of qualia (our own and others), and about the relationship between qualia and intentional content: qualia have often been thought of as non-intentional features of mental states, although this position has recently been widely challenged.
Key works C.I. Lewis is generally thought to have coined the term 'qualia' in Lewis 1956, while Dennett 1991 attempts to cast doubt on the coherence of the notion (and see also Rey 1998). Searle 1992 is a well known argument that all conscious mental states, including thoughts and occurrent beliefs, have a qualitative character (and see also Strawson 1994). Several lines of argument have been advanced to try and show that qualia cannot be physical, including the conceivability argument (Kripke 1980, Chalmers 1996), the knowledge argument (Nagel 1974Jackson 1982) and the explanatory gap argument (Levine 1983). Important physicalist responses include the proposal that qualia are naturalisable as a species of intentional property (e.g. Byrne 2001), and the 'phenomenal concepts' strategy that argues that the appearance of a gap between the physical and the phenomenal is merely conceptual and not ontological (Loar 1990).
Introductions Block 2004; Chalmers 1995Nagel 1974Harman 1990Dennett 1988; Shoemaker 1982
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  1. Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar (2010). Tantas Puertas Para Tebas: Sentidos y Qualia Pra Una Epistemología. In María G. Navarro, Betty Estévez & Antolín Sánchez Cuervo (eds.), Claves Actuales de Pensamiento. Csic/Plaza y Valdés.
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  2. Jan Almäng (2014). Perceptual Transparency and Perceptual Constancy. Husserl Studies 30 (1):1-19.
    A central topic in discussions about qualia concerns their purported transparency. According to transparency theorists, an experience is transparent in the sense that the subject having the experience is aware of nothing but the intended object of the experience. In this paper this notion is criticized for failing to account for the dynamical aspects of perception. A key assumption in the paper is that perceptual content has a certain temporal depth, in the sense that each act of perception can present (...)
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  3. William P. Banks (1996). How Much Work Can a Quale Do? Consciousness and Cognition 5 (3):368-80.
    It is argued that theoretical models cannot use qualia as explanatory tools, and cannot explain them either; thus, there is no way to make qualia do any useful work at all, at least in a theory. However, qualia do occur in both imagery and perception, and this article presents some ways of thinking about qualia from a functional perspective. Imagery differs from perception in its function. It is not a faded copy of perception. It is less distinct than perception because (...)
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  4. Mark Bradley (2011). The Causal Efficacy of Qualia. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):11-12.
    Qualia are the elements of phenomenal consciousness -- the raw feels which constitute what it is like to be in a conscious mental state. Some claim that qualia are epiphenomenal properties -- mere by-products of brain function which are causally inert. Though this is an implausible theory, it is difficult to show that it is false. Here I present an ad hominem argument -- the argument from coincidence -- which shows that epiphenomenalism about qualia is explanatorily deficient because it leaves (...)
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  5. Albert R. Braunmuller (1971). The Natural Course of Light Inverted: An Impresa in Chapman's Bussy D'Ambois. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34:356-360.
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  6. Austen Clark, Inversions Spectral and Bright.
    Spectrum inversion is a thought experiment, and I would wager that there is no better diagnostic test to the disciplinary affiliation of a randomly selected member of the audience than your reaction to a thought experiment. It is a litmus test. If you find that you are paying close attention, subvocalizing objections, and that your heart-rate and metabolism go up, you have turned pink: you are a philosopher. If on the other hand the thought experiment leaves you cold, and you (...)
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  7. Robert Cummins, Martin Roth & Ian Harmon (2014). Why It Doesn't Matter to Metaphysics What Mary Learns. Philosophical Studies 167 (3):541-555.
    The Knowledge Argument of Frank Jackson has not persuaded physicalists, but their replies have not dispelled the intuition that someone raised in a black and white environment gains genuinely new knowledge when she sees colors for the first time. In what follows, we propose an explanation of this particular kind of knowledge gain that displays it as genuinely new, but orthogonal to both physicalism and phenomenology. We argue that Mary’s case is an instance of a common phenomenon in which something (...)
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  8. Malte Dahlgrün (2010). The Notion of a Recognitional Concept and Other Confusions. Philosophical Studies 150 (1):139 - 160.
    The notion of a recognitional concept (RC) is stated precisely and shown to be unrelated to the proper notion of a perceptually based concept, defining of concept empiricism. More fundamentally, it is argued that the notion of an RC does not reflect a potentially sensible candidate theory of concepts at all and therefore ought to be abandoned from concept-theoretical discourse. In the later parts of the paper, it is shown independently of these points that Fodor's attacks on RCs are in (...)
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  9. Lieven Decock & Igor Douven (2013). Qualia Compression. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):129-150.
    Color qualia inversion scenarios have played a key role in various philosophical debates. Most notably perhaps, they have figured in skeptical arguments for the fundamental unknowability of other persons’ color experiences. For these arguments to succeed, it must be assumed that a person's having inverted color qualia may go forever unnoticed. This assumption is now generally deemed to be implausible. The present paper defines a variant of color qualia inversion—termed ‘‘color qualia compression’’—and argues that the possibility of undetectable color qualia (...)
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  10. Raphael Demos (1947). The Spectrum of Knowledge. Philosophical Review 56 (3):237-257.
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  11. Shimon Edelman & Tomer Fekete (2012). Being in Time. In Shimon Edelman, Tomer Fekete & Neta Zach (eds.), Being in Time: Dynamical Models of Phenomenal Experience. John Benjamins. 88--81.
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  12. Frances Egan (2013). Explaining Representation: A Reply to Matthen. Philosophical Studies (1):1-6.
    Mohan Matthen has failed to understand the position I develop and defend in “How to Think about Mental Content.” No doubt some of the fault lies with my exposition, though Matthen often misconstrues passages that are clear in context. He construes clarifications and elaborations of my argument to be “concessions.” Rather than dwell too much on specific misunderstandings of my explanatory project and its attendant claims, I will focus on the main points of disagreement.RepresentationalismMy project in the paper is to (...)
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  13. Malcolm Forster (1991). Preconditions of Predication: From Qualia to Quantum Mechanics. Topoi 10 (1):13-26.
    Although in every inductive inference, an act of invention is requisite, the act soon slips out of notice. Although we bind together facts by superinducing upon them a new Conception, this Conception, once introduced and applied, is looked upon as inseparably connected with the facts, and necessarily implied in them. Having once had the phenomena bound together in their minds in virtue of the Conception men can no longer easily restore them back to the detached and incoherent condition in which (...)
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  14. Carl A. Fox (2013). Qualia Fest Rocks. The Philosophers' Magazine 61 (61):6-6.
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  15. Carl A. Fox (2013). Qualia Fest Rocks. The Philosophers' Magazine 61 (61):6-6.
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  16. Robert Francescotti (2000). Introspection and Qualia: A Defense of Infallibility. Communication and Cognition 33 (3-4):161-173.
  17. Martina Fürst (2004). Qualia and Phenomenal Concepts as Basis of the Knowledge Argument. Acta Analytica 19 (32):143-152.
    The central attempt of this paper is to explain the underlying intuitions of Frank Jackson’s “Knowledge Argument” that the epistemic gap between phenomenal knowledge and physical knowledge points towards a corresponding ontological gap. The first step of my analysis is the claim that qualia are epistemically special because the acquisition of the phenomenal concept of a quale x requires the experience of x. Arguing what is so special about phenomenal concepts and pointing at the inherence-relation with the qualia (...)
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  18. Volker Gadenne (2007). Qualia, intentionale Zustände und menschliches Selbstverständnis. Facta Philosophica 9 (1):103-118.
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  19. Gordon G. Globus (1998). Self, Cognition, Qualia, and World in Quantum Brain Dynamics. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (1):34-52.
    If the brain has a level of quantum functioning that permits superposition of possibilities and nonlocal control of states, then new answers to the problem of the consciousness/brain relation become available. My discussion is based on Yasue and co-workers’ account of a quantum field theory of brain functioning, called ‘quantum brain dynamics’. In the framework developed each person can properly state: ‘I am nonlocal control and my meanings are control variables.’ Cognition is identified with a conjugate reality and perception is (...)
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  20. J. Goguen (2004). Musical Qualia, Context, Time and Emotion. Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (3-4):117-147.
    Nearly all listeners consider the subjective aspects of music, such as its emotional tone, to have primary importance. But contemporary philosophers often downplay, ignore, or even deny such aspects of experience. Moreover, traditional philosophies of music try to decontextualize it. Using music as an example, this paper explores the structure of qualitative experience, demonstrating that it is multi-layer emergent, non-compositional, enacted, and situation dependent, among other non-Cartesian properties. Our explanations draw on recent work in cognitive science, including blending, image schemas, (...)
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  21. Melvyn A. Goodale (2001). Real Action in a Virtual World. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):984-985.
    O'Regan & Noë run into some difficulty in trying to reconcile their “seeing as acting” proposal with the perception and action account of the functions of the two streams of visual projections in the primate cerebral cortex. I suggest that part of the problem is their reluctance to acknowledge that the mechanisms in the ventral stream may play a more critical role in visual awareness and qualia than mechanisms in the dorsal stream.
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  22. L. S. Greenberg (2003). Review of “Emotions, Qualia and Consciousness” by Alfred Kaszniak (Ed.). [REVIEW] Consciousness and Emotion 4 (2):327-333.
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  23. A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.) (1992). A. J. Ayer: Memorial Essays. Cambridge University Press.
    A memorial collection of essays by leading Western philosophers, with a postumous essay by Ayer himself.
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  24. Donald F. Gustafson (1998). Pain, Qualia, and the Explanatory Gap. Philosophical Psychology 11 (3):371-387.
    This paper investigates the status of the purported explanatory gap between pain phenomena and natural science, when the “gap” is thought to exist due to the special properties of experience designated by “qualia” or “the pain quale” in the case of pain experiences. The paper questions the existence of such a property in the case of pain by: (1) looking at the history of the conception of pain; (2) raising questions from empirical research and theory in the psychology of (...)
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  25. Pentti O. A. Haikonen (2009). Qualia and Conscious Machines. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 1 (02):225-234.
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  26. Gilbert Harman (1996). Qualia and Color Concepts. Philosophical Issues 7:75-79.
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  27. L. E. Hicks (1912). Something More About Inversion: A Rejoinder. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 9 (19):520-523.
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  28. David Hilbert, Qualia.
    Perception and thought are often, although not exclusively, concerned with information about the world. In the case of perceiving though, unlike thinking, it is widely believed that there is an additional element involved, a subjective feeling or, as it is often put, something that it is like to be perceiving. Qualia are these characteristic feelings that accompany perceiving. One motivation for the idea that we experience qualia is that there is a clear difference between seeing a red tomato (...)
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  29. Christopher S. Hill, Visual Awareness and Visual Qualia.
    Department of Philosophy Brown University Providence, RI 02915.
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  30. Greg P. Hodes (2005). What Would It "Be Like" to Solve the Hard Problem?: Cognition, Consciousness, and Qualia Zombies. Neuroquantology 3 (1):43-58.
    David Chalmers argues that consciousness -- authentic, first-person, conscious consciousness -- cannot be reduced to brain events or to any physical event, and that efforts to find a workable mind-body identity theory are, therefore, doomed in principle. But for Chalmers and non-reductionist in general consciousness consists exclusively, or at least paradigmatically, of phenomenal or qualia-consciousness. This results in a seriously inadequate understanding both of consciousness and of the “hard problem.” I describe other, higher-order cognitional events which must be conscious if (...)
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  31. David Hodgson, Goodbye to Qualia and All That.
    Max Bennett is a distinguished Australian neuroscientist, Peter Hacker an Oxford philosopher and a leading authority on Wittgenstein. A book resulting from their collaboration (M. R. Bennett and P. M. S. Hacker, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003) has received high praise. According to the Blackwell website, G. H. von Wright asserts that it ‘will certainly, for a long time to come, be the most important contribution to the mind-body problem that there is’; and Sir Anthony Kenny says it (...)
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  32. David Hodgson (2002). Three Tricks of Consciousness: Qualia, Chunking and Selection. Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (12):65-88.
    DAVID HODGSON Abstract: This article supports the proposition that, if a judgment about the aesthetic merits of an artistic object can take into account and thereby be influenced by the particular quality of the object, through gestalt experiences evoked by the object, then we have free will. It argues that it is probable that such a judgment can indeed take into account and be influenced by the particular quality of the object through gestalt experiences evoked by it, so as to (...)
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  33. Jason Holt (1999). Blindsight in Debates About Qualia. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (5):54-71.
    Blindsight is a hot topic in philosophy, especially in discussions of consciousness. Here I critically examine various attempts to bring blindsight to bear on debates about qualia -- the raw constituents of consciousness. I argue that blindsight does not unequivocally support any particular theory of qualia. It does, however, vindicate the view that there are qualia, despite arguments -- most notably by Daniel Dennett -- to the contrary.
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  34. Ted Honderich (1992). Seeing Qualia and Positing the World. In A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.), A. J. Ayer: Memorial Essays. Cambridge University Press. 129-152.
    It is the business of philosophy to deal without presupposition with the question of the general nature of the world and with the question of how or indeed whether we can know that nature. These are questions to which answers are given in the realism of ordinary belief, as it can be called, the phenomenalism of Berkeley, the pragmatism and the scientism of Quine, and the varieties of scepticism. The ontological and the epistemological questions are bound up with another, that (...)
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  35. Mariann Hudak, Zoltan Jakab & Ilona Kovacs (2013). Phenomenal Qualities and the Development of Perceptual Integration. In Liliana Albertazzi (ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Experimental Phenomenology; Visual Perception of Shape, Space and Appearance. Wiley-Blackwell.
    In this chapter, data concerning the development of principal aspects of vision is reviewed. First, the development of colour vision and luminance perception is discussed. Relevant data accumulated so far indicates that perception of colour and luminance is present by 6-9 months of age. The presence of typical color illusions at this age suggests that the phenomenal character of color experience is comparable to that of adults well before the first birthday. Thus it seems plausible that color perception develops on (...)
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  36. Nicholas Humphrey, Getting the Measure of Consciousness.
    The hard problem of consciousness is to explain the experience of qualia. But everything gets easier once we realise that what has to be explained is not how qualia can exist as objective entities but rather why the conscious subject should believe that they exist. This essay lays out a programme for doing this. It makes radical proposals as to how the “qualia illusion” is created, and why sustaining this illusion is biologically adaptive.
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  37. Dale Jacquette (2006). Supervenience of Qualia and Intentionality. Philo 9 (2):145-164.
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  38. Zoltan Jakab (2012). Reflectance Physicalism About Color: The Story Continues. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):463-488.
    A stubborn problem for reflectance physicalism about color is to account for individual differences in normal trichromat color perception. The identification of determinate colors with physical properties of visible surfaces in a universal, perceiver-independent way is challenged by the observation that the same surfaces in identical viewing conditions often look different in color to different human subjects with normal color vision. Recently, leading representatives of reflectance physicalism have offered some arguments to defend their view against the individual differences challenge. In (...)
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  39. Zoltan Jakab (2003). Phenomenal Projection. Psyche 9 (4).
    In this paper I shall defend a projectivist view of sensory experience. The case I shall focus on is that of color experience. Projectivism has recently been criticized by some authors who claim that it is unintelligible, or at least implausible, and that it makes a severe category mistake. I shall argue that despite some prima facie impressions of implausibility, projectivism can be made intelligible, and plausible, if its details are spelled out in a reasonable way. In addition, projectivism is (...)
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  40. Bredo C. Johnsen (1997). Dennett on Qualia and Consciousness: A Critique. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):47-82.
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  41. James W. Kalat (2002). Identism Without Objective Qualia: Commentary on Crooks. Journal of Mind and Behavior 23 (3):233-238.
    Crooks has rightly pointed out that perceptions are unlike the external stimuli that trigger them, and that any discussion of "objective qualia" is likely to confuse or mislead. The important issue is whether the concept of objective qualia has been just unfortunate terminology and a bad example, or whether discarding the concept seriously harms the underlying position of mind-body identity. Neuroscience research to date has been fully consistent with some version of mind-brain monism, and is beginning to establish which brain (...)
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  42. Julian Kiverstein (2008). Wittgenstein, Qualia, and the Autonomy of Grammar. In David K. Levy & Edoardo Zamuner (eds.), Wittgenstein's Enduring Arguments. Routledge.
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  43. Martin Kurthen (1990). Qualia, Sensa Und Absolute Prozesse. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 21 (1):25 - 46.
    Qualia, Sensa and absolute Processes. In this paper, the development of Sellars' thoughts concerning the mind-body-problem is reconstructed. Starting from an elaborate critique of the identity theory, Sellars claims that the ultimate 'Scientific Image' must contain a concept of sensa as the bearers of certain properties of manifest sense impressions. In his later work Sellars' notion of absolute processes leads him to a new monism and thus to an extended critique of rival theories. It is argued that these Sellarsian thoughts (...)
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  44. S. L. (2003). Review of “Emotions, Qualia and Consciousness” by Alfred Kaszniak (Ed.). [REVIEW] Consciousness and Emotion 4 (2):327-333.
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  45. Brendan J. Lalor (1999). Intentionality and Qualia. Synthese 121 (3):249-290.
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  46. Harold Langsam (2000). Experiences, Thoughts, and Qualia. Philosophical Studies 99 (3):269-295.
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  47. George G. Leckie (1943). A Note on Symbolic Inversion. Philosophical Review 52 (3):289-298.
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  48. Yakir Levin (2004). Criterial Semantics and Qualia. Facta Philosophica 6 (1):57-76.
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  49. Joseph Levine (1997). Are Qualia Just Representations? A Critical Notice of Michael Tye's Ten Problems of Consciousness. Mind and Language 12 (1):101-113.
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  50. Joseph Levine (1997). Are Qualia Just Representations? Mind and Language 12 (1):101-13.
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