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
Related categories

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  1. Qualia.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1995 - Faith and Philosophy 12 (4):472-474.
  2. The Subject is Qualia.Robert F. Allen - manuscript
  3. The Subject is Qualia: Paronyms and Temporary Identity.Robert F. Allen - manuscript
  4. So THAT'S What It's Like!Sean Allen-Hermanson - forthcoming - In Companion to the Philosophy of Animal Minds. Routledge.
    Many philosophers have held that we cannot say what it is like to be a bat as they present a fundamentally alien form of life. Another view held by some philosophers, bat scientists, and even many laypersons is that echolocation is, somehow, at least in part, a kind of visual experience. Either way, bat echolocation is taken to be something very mysterious and exotic. I utilize empirical and intuitive considerations to support an alternative view making a much more mundane contention (...)
  5. Qualia.Torin Alter - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
    Introduction Qualia and causation Do qualia exist? Qualia and cognitive science Qualia and other mental phenomena Knowledge of qualia Are qualia irreducible?
  6. Application of Double-Cusp Catastrophe Theory to the Physical Evolution of Qualia: Implications for Paradigm Shift in Medicine and Psychology.Richard L. Amoroso - 2004 - Anticipative and Predictive Models in Systems Science 1 (1):19-26.
    Seminal work intended to found a new field of integrative Noetic Science is summarized. Until now the philosophy of Biological Mechanism has ruled medicine and psychology. Penrose claims, AA scientific world-view which does not profoundly come to terms with the problem of conscious mind can have no serious pretensions of completeness@. A noetic action principle synonymous with the historic concept of élan vital is introduced as the basis of a Continuous State Conscious Universe (CSCU). The least unit of CSCU superspace (...)
  7. Cognitive Phenomenology and Metacognitive Feelings.Santiago Arango‐Muñoz - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    The cognitive phenomenology thesis claims that “there is something it is like” to have cognitive states such as believ- ing, desiring, hoping, attending, and so on. In support of this idea, Goldman claimed that the tip-of-the-tongue phe- nomenon can be considered as a clear-cut instance of non- sensory cognitive phenomenology. This paper reviews Goldman's proposal and assesses whether the tip-of-the- tongue and other metacognitive feelings actually constitute an instance of cognitive phenomenology. The paper will show that psychological data cast doubt (...)
  8. Qualia Ain't in the Head.David Armstrong - 1999 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):12-15.
  9. Qualia and the Argument From Illusion.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
  10. Phenomenal Properties: The Epistemology and Metaphysics of Qualia.Andrew R. Bailey - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Calgary
    This dissertation develops and defends a detailed realist, internalist account of qualia which is consistent with physicalism and which does not resurrect the epistemological 'myth of the Given.' In doing so it stakes out a position in the sparsely populated middle ground between the two major opposing factions on the problem of phenomenal consciousness: between those who think we have a priori reasons to believe that qualia are irreducible to the physical , and those who implicitly or explicitly treat qualia (...)
  11. Review of "The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind" and "Feeling Extended: Sociality as Extended Body-Becoming-Mind". [REVIEW]Gary Bartlett - 2016 - Essays in Philosophy 17 (1):164-188.
  12. On Phenomenal Character and Petri Dishes.Gary Bartlett - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:67-74.
    Michael Tye (2007) argues that phenomenal character cannot be an intrinsic microphysical property of experiences (or be necessitated by intrinsic microphysical properties) because this would entail that experience could occur in a chunk of tissue in a Petri dish. Laudably, Tye attempts to defend the latter claim rather than resting content with the counter-intuitiveness of the associated image. However, I show that his defense is problematic in several ways, and ultimately that it still amounts to no more than an appeal (...)
  13. Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness.Alexander Batthyany & Avshalom C. Elitzur (eds.) - 2009 - Winter.
  14. Scents and Sensibilia.Clare Batty - 2010 - American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (2):103-118.
    This paper considers what olfactory experience can tell us about the controversy over qualia and, in particular, the debate that focuses on the alleged transparency of experience. The appeal to transparency is supposed to show that there are no qualia—intrinsic, non-intentional and directly accessible properties of experience that determine phenomenal character. It is most commonly used to motivate intentionalism—namely, the view that the phenomenal character of an experience is exhausted by its representational content. Although some philosophers claim that transparency holds (...)
  15. Seeing Qualitons as Qualia: A Dialogue with Wittgenstein on Private Experience, Sense Data and the Ontology of Mind.Hilan Bensusan & Eros Moreira De Carvalho - 2013 - Papers of the 33rd International Wittgenstein Symposium.
    In this paper we put forward the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. Further, we maintain that Wittgenstein hints in this direction. We also find in Wittgenstein elements of an account of language acquisition that takes the presence of qualia as an enabling condition. We conclude by pointing out some difficulties of this view.
  16. Qualia Qua Qualitons: Mental Qualities as Abstract Particulars.Hilan Bensusan & Eros Moreira De Carvalho - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (2):155-163.
    In this paper we advocate the thesis that qualia are tropes (or qualitons), and not (universal) properties. The main advantage of the thesis is that we can accept both the Wittgensteinian and Sellarsian assault on the given and the claim that only subjective and private states can do justice to the qualitative character of experience. We hint that if we take qualia to be tropes, we dissolve the problem of inverted qualia. We develop an account of sensory concept acquisition that (...)
  17. Wittgenstein and Qualia.Ned Block - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
    endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected. The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are contents of experiential states which cannot be fully captured in natural language. I will pinpoint the difference between the innocuous (...)
  18. Qualia.Ned Block - 2004 - In Richard L. Gregory (ed.), Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Qualia include the ways things look, sound and smell, the way it feels to have a pain; more generally, what it's like to have mental states. Qualia are experiential properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions and, in my view, thoughts and desires as well. But, so defined, who could deny that qualia exist? Yet, the existence of qualia is controversial. Here is what is controversial: whether qualia, so defined, can be characterized in intentional, functional or purely cognitive terms. Opponents of qualia (...)
  19. Not in the Mood for Intentionalism.Davide Bordini - 2017 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 41 (1):60-81.
    According to intentionalism, the phenomenal character of experience is one and the same as the intentional content of experience. This view has a problem with moods (anxiety, depression, elation, irritation, gloominess, grumpiness, etc.). Mood experiences certainly have phenomenal character, but do not exhibit directedness, i.e., do not appear intentional. Standardly, intentionalists have re-described moods’ undirectedness in terms of directedness towards everything or the whole world (e.g., Crane, 1998; Seager, 1999). This move offers the intentionalist a way out, but is quite (...)
  20. Artificial Qualia, Intentional Systems and Machine Consciousness.Robert James M. Boyles - 2012 - In Proceedings of the DLSU Congress 2012. pp. 110a–110c.
    In the field of machine consciousness, it has been argued that in order to build human-like conscious machines, we must first have a computational model of qualia. To this end, some have proposed a framework that supports qualia in machines by implementing a model with three computational areas (i.e., the subconceptual, conceptual, and linguistic areas). These abstract mechanisms purportedly enable the assessment of artificial qualia. However, several critics of the machine consciousness project dispute this possibility. For instance, Searle, in his (...)
  21. Vision, Action, and Make‐Perceive.Robert Briscoe - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (4):457-497.
    In this paper, I critically assess the enactive account of visual perception recently defended by Alva Noë (2004). I argue inter alia that the enactive account falsely identifies an object’s apparent shape with its 2D perspectival shape; that it mistakenly assimilates visual shape perception and volumetric object recognition; and that it seriously misrepresents the constitutive role of bodily action in visual awareness. I argue further that noticing an object’s perspectival shape involves a hybrid experience combining both perceptual and imaginative elements (...)
  22. What is This Thing Called Subjective Experience? Reflections on the Neuropsychology of Qualia.R. Buck - 1993 - Neuropsychology 7:490-99.
  23. Qualia Domesticated.Roberto Casati - 2002 - In Amita Chatterjee (ed.), Perspectives on Consciousness. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
    Consider the following argument If panpsychism is true, then the hard problem of consciousness is solved Physicalism is true Physicalism entails panpsychism. We conclude that The hard problem of consciousness is solved. This is a valid argument, and one whose conclusion has a certain appeal. What about the premisses? How exactly is panpsychism a solution to the problem of phenomenal consciousness? Who can take panpsychism seriously, and how can panpsychism be entailed by physicalism? A little forcing is assumed in suggesting (...)
  24. Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification.Marc Champagne - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (1):145-183.
    ABSTRACT: This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the “explanatory gap” that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel’s revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block’s controversial claim that we should countenance a “phenomenal-consciousness” which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy (...)
  25. Wine Active Compounds 2008: Proceedings of the WAC2008 International Conference.David Chassange (ed.) - 2008 - Oenapluria Media.
  26. Perspectives on Consciousness.Amita Chatterjee (ed.) - 2003 - New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
  27. A Theory of Sentience.Austen Clar (ed.) - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
  28. Color, Qualia, and Attention : A Non-Standard Interpretation.Austen Clark - 2010 - In Jonathan D. Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press. pp. 203.
    A standard view in philosophy of mind is that qualia and phenomenal character require consciousness. This paper argues that various experimental and clinical phenomena can be better explained if we reject this assumption. States found in early visual processing can possess qualitative character even though they are not in any sense conscious mental states. This non-standard interpretation bears the burden of explaining what must be added to states that have qualitative character in order to yield states of sensory awareness or (...)
  29. Quality Space.Austen Clark - 2000 - In Austen Clar (ed.), A Theory of Sentience. Oxford University Press.
  30. Qualia and the Psychophysical Explanation of Color Perception.Austen Clark - 1985 - Synthese 65 (December):377-405.
    Can psychology explain the qualitative content of experience? A persistent philosophical objection to that discipline is that it cannot. Qualitative states or " qualia " are argued to have characteristics which cannot be explained in terms of their relationships to other psychological states, stimuli, and behavior. Since psychology is confined to descriptions of such relationships, it seems that psychology cannot explain qualia.
  31. Qualia, Extension and Abstraction.Bowman L. Clarke - 1986 - The Monist 69 (2):216-234.
  32. Whither Visual Representations? Whither Qualia?Jonathan Cohen - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):980-981.
    This commentary makes two rejoinders to O'Regan & Noë. It clarifies the status of visual representations in their account, and argues that their explanation of the appeal of qualia is unsatisfying.
  33. Is Trilled Smell Possible? How the Structure of Olfaction Determines the Phenomenology of Smell.Ed Cooke & Erik Myin - 2011 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):59-95.
    Smell 'sensations' are among the most mysterious of conscious experiences, and have been cited in defense of the thesis that the character of perceptual experience is independent of the physical events that seem to give rise to it. Here we review the scientific literature on olfaction, and we argue that olfaction has a distinctive profile in relation to the other modalities, on four counts: in the physical nature of the stimulus, in the sensorimotor interactions that characterize its use, in the (...)
  34. The Origins of Qualia.Tim Crane - 2000 - In Tim Crane & Sarah Patterson (eds.), The History of the Mind-Body Problem. London: Routledge.
    The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as two horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but on the other hand, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are (...)
  35. History of the Mind-Body Problem.Tim Crane & Sarah Patterson (eds.) - 2000 - New York: Routledge.
  36. To Express or Suppress May Be Function of Others' Distress.Geert Crombez & Chris Eccleston - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):457-458.
    We argue that pain behaviour cannot be wholly accounted for within the operant model of Fordyce (1976). Many pain behaviours, including facial expression, are not socially reinforced but are evolutionarily predetermined. We urge researchers to take into consideration other learning accounts. Building on the idea that pain sufferers learn to suppress the expression of pain, we begin the development of a framework for a relational understanding of pain complaint.
  37. Capturing Qualia: Higher-Order Concepts and Connectionism.Bryon Cunningham - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (1):29-41.
    Antireductionist philosophers have argued for higher-order classifications of qualia that locate consciousness outside the scope of conventional scientific explanations, viz., by classifying qualia as intrinsic, basic, or subjective properties, antireductionists distinguish qualia from extrinsic, complex, and objective properties, and thereby distinguish conscious mental states from the possible explananda of functionalist or physicalist explanations. I argue that, in important respects, qualia are intrinsic, basic, and subjective properties of conscious mental states, and that, contrary to antireductionists' suggestions, these higher-order classifications are compatible (...)
  38. Empirical Evidence for Constraints on Colour Categorisation.Jules Davidoff & Debi Roberson - 1997 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (2):185-186.
    The question of whether colour categorisation is determined by nontrivial constraints (i.e., universal neurophysiological properties of visual neurons) is an empirical issue concerning the organisation of the internal colour space. Rosch has provided psychological evidence that categories are organised around focal colours and that the organisation is universal; this commentary reconsiders that evidence.
  39. The Myth of Cartesian Qualia.Raffaella de Rosa - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):181-207.
    The standard view of Cartesian sensations is that they present themselves as purely qualitative features of experience. Accordingly, Descartes view would be that in perceiving the color red, for example, we are merely experiencing the subjective feel of redness rather than seeming to perceive a property of bodies. In this paper, I establish that the argument and textual evidence offered in support of SV fail to prove that Descartes held this view. Indeed, I will argue that there are textual and (...)
  40. The Existential Quality Issue in Social Ontology: Eidetics and Modifications of Essential Connections.Francesca De Vecchi - 2016 - Humana Mente (16):187-204.
    The present work deals with the quality issue in social ontology: the fact that social entities not only can exist or not exist, but can also be more or less achieved and be subject to degrees of existence, and the fact that social entities can be bearers of varieties of ways of existence, that is, there are several ways in which a social entity of a certain type can be realized. In accordance with phenomenological eidetics, I show that modifications of (...)
  41. The Puzzle of Consciousness.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Cilicia Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):76-85.
    In this article, I aim to present some of the reasons why consciousness is viewed as an intractable problem by many philosophers. Furthermore, I will argue that if these reasons are properly appreciated, then McGinn's mysterianism may not sound as far-fetched as it would otherwise sound.
  42. Heidegger and the Problem of Consciousness.McManus Denis - 2016 - In Consciousness and the Great Philosophers. London: pp. 209-216.
  43. Corticothalamic Necessity, Qualia, and Consciousness.Sam M. Doesburg & Lawrence M. Ward - 2007 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (1):90-91.
    The centrencephalic theory of consciousness cannot yet account for some evidence from both brain damaged and normally functioning humans that strongly implicates thalamocortical activity as essential for consciousness. Moreover, the behavioral indexes used by Merker to implicate consciousness need more development, as, besides being somewhat vague, they lead to some apparent contradictions in the attribution of consciousness. (Published Online May 1 2007).
  44. Conceptual Qualia and Communication.Fabian Dorsch & Gianfranco Soldati - 2005 - In Gilian Crampton Smith (ed.), The Foundations of Interaction Design. pp. 1-14.
    The claim that consciousness is propositional has be widely debated in the past. For instance, it has been discussed whether consciousness is always propositional, whether all propositional consciousness is linguistic, whether propositional consciousness is always articulated, or whether there can be non-articulated propositions. In contrast, the question of whether propositions are conscious has not very often been the focus of attention.
  45. Cognitive-Phenomenological Penetration.Marius Dumitru - 2014 - Hypothesis 1 (1).
    The study of the mind has to grapple with both the unconscious and the conscious. While the phenomenon of cognitive penetration has already been explored especially in connection to the modularity of perceptual and cognitive processes, the phenomenon of cognitive-phenomenological penetration, the penetration within the stream of consciousness of the phenomenological fabric of experiences by the phenomenology of thought, has not been given much attention thus far. In this paper, I focus with analytic-phenomenological methods on cognitive-phenomenological penetration as a phenomenon (...)
  46. I Can't Get No (Epistemic) Satisfaction: Why the Hard Problem of Consciousness Entails a Hard Problem of Explanation.Brian D. Earp - 2012 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 5 (1):14-20.
    Daniel Dennett (1996) has disputed David Chalmers' (1995) assertion that there is a "hard problem of consciousness" worth solving in the philosophy of mind. In this paper I defend Chalmers against Dennett on this point: I argue that there is a hard problem of consciousness, that it is distinct in kind from the so-called easy problems, and that it is vital for the sake of honest and productive research in the cognitive sciences to be clear about the difference. But I (...)
  47. Qualia: Irreducibly Subjective but Not Intrinsic.Edward Feser - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):3-20.
    The indirect realist theory of our knowledge of the external world which Russellian philosophers of mind have appealed to in formulating and defending a unique version of the mind-brain identity theory can be applied also to the formulation and defence of a unique version of functionalism. On the view that results, qualia turn out to be features which do not exist over and above the natural world , and are irreducibly subjective but are non-intrinsic properties of brain states . This (...)
  48. On the Nature and Cognitive Function of Phenomenal Content -- Part One.Ivan Fox - 1989 - Philosophical Topics 17 (1):81-103.
  49. Das Wesen des Erscheinens: Eine Untersuchung über Phänomenales Bewusstsein und die Intentionalität der Erfahrung.Dirk Franken - 2014 - Dissertation, Münster
    Wann immer wir etwas sehen, hören, fühlen oder riechen, erscheint uns etwas. Was aber bedeutet es, dass jemandem etwas erscheint? Was ist der mentale Zustand, in dem sich jemand befindet, wenn ihm etwas erscheint (der Zustand des Erscheinens)? Diese nur scheinbar harmlose Frage steht im Zentrum der vorliegenden Untersuchung. Die Antwort, die verteidigt wird, lautet: Zustände des Erscheinens sind ihrem Wesen nach transparent. D. h. in einem Zustand des Erscheinens sind dem Subjekt dieses Zustandes ausschließlich die Gegenstände dieser Zustände präsent, (...)
  50. Qualia: The Real Thing.Keith Frankish - unknown
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