As is so often the case with philosophical jargon, it is easier to give examples than to give a definition of the term. Look at a glass of milk at sunset; the way it looks to you --the particular, personal, subjective visual quality of the glass of milk is the quale of your visual experience at the moment. The way the milk tastes to you then is another, gustatory quale , and how it sounds to you as you swallow is an auditory quale ; These various "properties of conscious experience" are prime examples of qualia. Nothing, it seems, could you know more intimately than your own qualia; let the entire universe be some vast illusion, some mere figment of Descartes' evil demon, and yet what the figment is made of for you will be the qualia of your hallucinatory experiences. Descartes claimed to doubt everything that could be doubted, but he never doubted that his conscious experiences had qualia, the properties by which he knew or apprehended them. The verb "to quine" is even more esoteric.
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Don't have an account? This chapter examines the origin and coherence of a certain candidate notion of qualia. Qualia are supposed to be special properties, in some hard-to-define way. By exposing the groundlessness of qualia-based insights, this chapter undermines the notion of qualia as absolute non-relational , atomic properties of phenomenal experience.
Whether such notions of the properties of phenomenal experience are the same as those countenanced by others is a moot point. That is, most psychologists would argue that they do not assume that qualities of percepts and sensations are free of inference, attitude or memory. However if one considers the tacit assumptions underlying much classical psychophysics, the discussion presented here has some force. Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service.
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26 Quining Qualia
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