Edited by Andrew Bailey (University of Guelph)
|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 1974, Jackson 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 1995; Nagel 1974; Harman 1990; Dennett 1988; Shoemaker 1982|
Material to categorize
Using PhilPapers from home?
Create an account to enable off-campus access through your institution's proxy server.
Monitor this page
Be alerted of all new items appearing on this page. Choose how you want to monitor it:
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
Learn more about PhilPapers