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In philosophy of mind, qualia (/ˈkwɑːliə/ or /ˈkwliə/; singular form: quale) are defined as individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. The term qualia derives from the Latin neuter plural form (qualia) of the Latin adjective quālis (Latin pronunciation: [ˈkʷaːlɪs]) meaning "of what sort" or "of what kind" in a specific instance, such as "what it is like to taste a specific apple, this particular apple now".

Examples of qualia include the perceived sensation of pain of a headache, the taste of wine, as well as the redness of an evening sky. As qualitative characters of sensation, qualia stand in contrast to "propositional attitudes",[1] where the focus is on beliefs about experience rather than what it is directly like to be experiencing.

Philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett once suggested that qualia was "an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us".[2]

Much of the debate over their importance hinges on the definition of the term, and various philosophers emphasize or deny the existence of certain features of qualia. Consequently, the nature and existence of various definitions of qualia remain controversial. While some philosophers of mind like Daniel Dennett argue that qualia do not exist and are incompatible with neuroscience and naturalism,[3][4] some neuroscientists and neurologists like Gerald Edelman, Antonio Damasio, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Giulio Tononi, Christof Koch and Rodolfo Llinás state that qualia exist and that the desire to eliminate them is based on an erroneous interpretation on the part of some philosophers regarding what constitutes science.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

  1. ^ Kriegel, Uriah (2014). Current Controversies In Philosophy of Mind. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-415-53086-6.
  2. ^ Dennett, Daniel (1985-11-21). "Quining Qualia". Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  3. ^ Dennett, D. (2002). Quining qualia. En: Chalmers, D. (Ed.). Philosophy of mind. Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 226-246). Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Dennett, D. (2015). Why and how does consciousness seem the way it seems? En: T. Metzinger & J. Windt (Eds.). Open mind (pp. 387–398). Mind Group.
  5. ^ Damasio, A. (1999). The feeling of what happens. Harcourt Brace.
  6. ^ Edelman, G., Gally, J. & Baars, B. (2011). Biology of consciousness. Frontiers In Psychology, 2, 4, 1-6.
  7. ^ Edelman, G. (1992). Bright air, brilliant fire. BasicBooks.
  8. ^ Edelman, G. (2003). Naturalizing consciousness: A theoretical framework. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100, 9, 5520-5524.
  9. ^ Koch, C. (2019). The feeling of life itself. The MIT Press.
  10. ^ Llinás, R. (2003). I of the Vortex. MIT Press, pp. 202–207.
  11. ^ Oizumi, M., Albantakis, L., & Tononi, G. (2014). From the phenomenology to the mechanisms of consciousness: Integrated information theory 3.0. PLOS Computational Biology, 10, e1003588.
  12. ^ Overgaard, M., Mogensen, J. & Kirkeby-Hinrup, A. (Eds.) (2021). Beyond neural correlates of consciousness. Routledge Taylor & Francis.
  13. ^ Ramachandran, V. & Hirstein, W. (1997). “Three laws of qualia. What neurology tells us about the biological functions of consciousness, qualia and the self.” Journal of consciousness studies, 4 (5-6), pp. 429-458.
  14. ^ Tononi, G., Boly, M., Massimini, M., & Koch, C. (2016). Integrated information theory: From consciousness to its physical substrate. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17, 450–461.

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