Dennett and others on qualia

1) Schroedinger on qualia.

"Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, the 
experience of taking a recreational drug, 
or the perceived redness of an evening sky. Daniel Dennett writes that qualia 
is "an unfamiliar term for 
something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem 
to us."[1] Erwin Schrödinger, 
the famous physicist, had this counter-materialist take: "The sensation of 
colour cannot be accounted for by 
the physicist's objective picture of light-waves. Could the physiologist 
account for it, if he had fuller 
knowledge than he has of the processes in 
the retina and the nervous processes set up by them in the optical nerve 
bundles and in the brain? I do not think so." [2] 

The importance of qualia in philosophy of mind comes largely from the fact that 
they are seen as posing a 
fundamental problem for materialist explanations of the mind-body problem. Much 
of the debate over their 
importance hinges on the definition of the term that is used,
as various philosophers emphasize or deny the existence of certain features of 
qualia. As such, 
the nature and existence of qualia are controversial.

2) Dennett on qualia

"In Consciousness Explained (1991) and "Quining Qualia" (1988),[19] Daniel 
Dennett offers an argument against qualia that attempts to 
show that the above definition breaks down when one tries to make a practical 
application of it. In a series of thought experiments, 
which he calls "intuition pumps," he brings qualia into the world of 
neurosurgery, clinical psychology, and psychological experimentation. 
His argument attempts to show that, once the concept of qualia is so imported, 
it turns out that we can either make no use of it in the 
situation in question, or that the questions posed by the introduction of 
qualia are unanswerable precisely because of the special
properties defined for qualia."

Is this the height of arrogance or what ? Dennett essentially says
that qualia do not exist because he cannot explain them. 

3) The Nagel argument. The definition of qualia is not what they are, but what 
they do..
what role they play ion consciusness. On the same page as above, 

The "What's it like to be?" argument 
Main article: Subjective character of experience 

Although it does not actually mention the word "qualia," Thomas Nagel's 
paper What Is it Like to Be a Bat?[4] is often cited in debates over qualia. 
Nagel argues that consciousness has an essentially subjective character, a 
what-it-is-like aspect. He states that "an organism has conscious mental states 
if and only i
if there is something that it is like to be that organism — something it is 
like for the organism."

 Nagel also suggests that the subjective 
aspect of the mind may not ever be sufficiently accounted for by the objective 
methods of 
reductionistic science (materialism). He claims that "[i]f we acknowledge that 
a physical theory of mind
 must account for the subjective character of experience, we must admit that no 
available conception gives us a clue how this could be done."[6] Furthermore, 
he states that 
"it seems unlikely that any physical theory of mind can be contemplated
until more thought has been given to the general problem of subjective and 

4) The zombie argument (from the link already given)

The zombie argument 
Main article: Philosophical zombie 

" A similar argument holds that it is conceivable that there could be physical 
duplicates of people, 
called "zombies," without any qualia at all. These "zombies" would demonstrate 
outward behavior 
precisely similar to that of a normal human, but would not have a subjective 
It is worth noting that a necessary condition for the possibility of 
philosophical zombies is that 
there be no specific part or parts of the brain that directly give rise to 
qualia—the zombie can only 
exist if subjective consciousness is causally separate from the physical brain."

Roger Clough, 
"Forever is a long time, especially near the end." -Woody Allen

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