The issue of qualia is highly controversial. I am slipping from being a proponent of qualia to an opponent quite often within this blog. Being a wave and particle at the same time about this issue.
Why is the question of qualia important?
But why on earth should this question be necessary at all? We are discussing whether some kinds of private entities, neural correlates within our brains or bodies, exist on the top of neurons and their firings. Why would such a question be of any importance to anyone but neuroscientists and philosophers?
What this blog aims to do is to show how certain obscure questions of philosophy are, in fact, essential for anyone. One can take this from the opposite point: if philosophy deals with a particular issue that cannot be of any importance for our lives, then such an issue should be of no importance for philosophy as well. Such argument still needs to prove the importance of the qualia question but at least hopefully connects philosophy back to life – and life forth to philosophy.
Many issues connected to qualia are being addressed in this blog. Zombies are not humans because they do not have qualia. Are zombies possible? If qualia exist, there should also exist corrupt, broken, damaged qualia that should have been treated by medical science. Another issue directly linked to the qualia question is the free will question and perhaps even more critical question, “who acts” when we do or say something. If we are machines (without qualia), many important questions of ethics and morality arise. Well, they are present even if qualia exist, but answers are different in one or another case. All these and many other topics related to qualia are listed as tags in this blog.
This post will not resolve the qualia question in one or another direction. My claim is that there are many directions towards qualia.
Qualia and communication
The main argument against qualia comes from a hard scientific standpoint. Science does not like subjectivity, so qualia as a subjective entity do not comply with scientific standards from the very beginning. How would hard science resolve the qualia question? “You perceive this table as big, and I perceive that same table is small. When we measure it, we do not experience it as small or as big anymore.” Does this mean that particular quality of our perception vanishes after the perceived object is (objectively) measured? Does this mean that neural correlates (and qualia) existed before the measurement if they disappeared after it?
First, we should notice that even if we take as if we’ve lost something with a measurement, something that was “lost” was, in fact, communicable. So that, what we lost, needed to be more incommunicable qualia. There most probably is a neural correlate behind, one in my body (not only brain) and one in yours – but qualia are nothing that would be accessible only to you for yours and to me for mine since we can share it in communication. We can fake it, but we cannot avoid communicating it (if we want to communicate it).
Qualia as a quantum entity?
And second: what if we take seriously that no object exists to be measured? What if, when dealing with qualia, we face a situation like an electron measurement? If we measure (know) the position of an electron to the point, we don’t know anything about its velocity. We cannot measure its speed if the position is measured, and vice versa. What if qualia are such quantum entities?
If qualia are quantum entities, unmeasurable but objective, then suddenly intersubjectivity comes into play. Qualia exists but is measured (communicated) only with its disappearance. Another critical issue gets easier with quantum qualia: the fake news question disappears completely. Everything is fake from an abstract point (of no measurement), while after measurement (intersubjective communication and agreement), everything (within discourse) becomes true. Reality is fake and accurate simultaneously – objective only after intersubjectivity is resolved through measurement (communication). Multiverse exists as potentiality and dissolves into our Universe after being measured/communicated.
Dear reader of this blog: confusion most certainly piles up with this post. It is at least partly resolved and will be even more after my three-year elaboration on memetics.