Questions for the friends of qualia.

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Lawrence Crocker
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Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Fri May 22, 2015 1:34 pm

Some questions for the friends of qualia.

When you experience, at a particular moment, a necker cube, does the quale come in one of 3 different flavors (out to right, up to left, or flat on page) and shift when you “see it” in a different way? Or is there a single quale that can change among these 3 appearances?
07neckercube.jpg
07neckercube.jpg (50.31 KiB) Viewed 2417 times
Along the same lines, are there two different qualia before and after you see the Jesus image, or only a single quale here?
jesus.gif
jesus.gif (16.13 KiB) Viewed 2417 times

For those of you who see the Jesus image right away (perhaps because of earlier exposure), I apologize. Imagine that it took you some time, as it did for most of us on our virginal experience. If anyone has another good “one way” ambiguous figure example, I would be grateful to be shown it. By “one way” I intend an ambiguous figure such that, once you see it, it is impossible to unsee it – or at least it is difficult and you are likely to succeed only briefly. This feature of the Jesus figure example I like because it leads into my next qualia question.

When looking at a picture of a crowd you realize that one of the faces is not a stranger after all, but a friend of yours. Does the quale change into a different quale, or is it only that you hold a different belief about one and the same quale? Does the quale differ from what it would otherwise be because, knowing your friend, you can tell that he was amused or frustrated when the picture was taken?

If you experience Isabel Leonard singing “Non so piu” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9usaRXn1IA), is there a single quale or a visual quale and a auditory quale? How long does the quale last before it is replaced by another?

Does it make a difference in the visual quale (or unified visual-auditory quale) of Leonard if you see it on your computer, on a Met HD Live screen or live at the Met from a close seat? Assume that pattern on your retina is the same, but that your eye focusing muscles are at quite different tensions in the 3 cases? Is the unconscious information you have about those muscles, which we know contributes to your 3 dimensional acuity, part of the visual quale or not?

Can sincere qualia reports ever be false?

Can you be certain about the appearance features of your qualia?

I ask these questions of the friends of qualia, not as a qualia enemy, but more as a mere acquaintance. There is a reality that people are talking about when they talk about qualia, but I suspect that the reality is not quite what it is often thought to be. In particular, what is lumped together a qualia, may be several different phenomena with importantly different epistemic properties.

If you are interested in the history, you might want to look at my blog post on a prior generation's take on qualia, called “sense data.” I ask whether when you close your eyes tightly you see sense data – a question that can just as well be asked of qualia. I argue that sense data theorists required two incompatible epistemic properties of their sense data – immediacy and incorrigibility. Some contemporary qualia theorists may sometimes fall into a similar mistake. http://lawrencecrocker.blogspot.com/201 ... ata-i.html

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Wyman » Fri May 22, 2015 2:08 pm

I am not a friend of qualia, but I assume they would say that each different 'aspect' (to use Wittgenstein's term) of the cube or a duck-rabbit, or any illusion is a separate quale; that there can be no false reports (sincere) of a quale. The question of change is interesting - I think they have a problem there, as each incident or episode or segment of perception is a unique quale; therefore, since time can be chopped up in an infinite variety of ways, they would have a hard time ever pinning down one, unique quale.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Fri May 22, 2015 9:24 pm

The series running from necker cube, through one way ambiguous figures, through the recognition of a friend, to the recognition of the friend's state of mind seems interesting because there is more judgment at each stage. For those who like their qualia raw, this makes, at the very least, for a somewhat difficult line drawing issue. How much judgment or inference or outside information can be involved in qualia?

I think the problem here for the qualia-friend is worse than that, however. This would be better shown by running the series the other direction, and perhaps starting with my seeing, upon looking at the picture of my friend in the crowd, that he has just had a fight with his significant other. No one wants to count that as part of the content of the quale, but, in fact, the same thing is going on with the necker cube. In seeing a line drawing as a cube, I am using outside information and making an inference, albeit an unconscious one. This is a problem for the qualia-friend, as it was for the friend of sense data, at least for those qualia friends who want the qualia to be purely color-line-surface sorts of things and not in any respect theory-laden.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Ginkgo » Sat May 23, 2015 12:11 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote:The series running from necker cube, through one way ambiguous figures, through the recognition of a friend, to the recognition of the friend's state of mind seems interesting because there is more judgment at each stage. For those who like their qualia raw, this makes, at the very least, for a somewhat difficult line drawing issue. How much judgment or inference or outside information can be involved in qualia?

I think the problem here for the qualia-friend is worse than that, however. This would be better shown by running the series the other direction, and perhaps starting with my seeing, upon looking at the picture of my friend in the crowd, that he has just had a fight with his significant other. No one wants to count that as part of the content of the quale, but, in fact, the same thing is going on with the necker cube. In seeing a line drawing as a cube, I am using outside information and making an inference, albeit an unconscious one. This is a problem for the qualia-friend, as it was for the friend of sense data, at least for those qualia friends who want the qualia to be purely color-line-surface sorts of things and not in any respect theory-laden.
Perhaps the interpretation changes but the qualia remains the same?

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Wyman » Sat May 23, 2015 3:17 pm

Ginkgo wrote:
Lawrence Crocker wrote:The series running from necker cube, through one way ambiguous figures, through the recognition of a friend, to the recognition of the friend's state of mind seems interesting because there is more judgment at each stage. For those who like their qualia raw, this makes, at the very least, for a somewhat difficult line drawing issue. How much judgment or inference or outside information can be involved in qualia?

I think the problem here for the qualia-friend is worse than that, however. This would be better shown by running the series the other direction, and perhaps starting with my seeing, upon looking at the picture of my friend in the crowd, that he has just had a fight with his significant other. No one wants to count that as part of the content of the quale, but, in fact, the same thing is going on with the necker cube. In seeing a line drawing as a cube, I am using outside information and making an inference, albeit an unconscious one. This is a problem for the qualia-friend, as it was for the friend of sense data, at least for those qualia friends who want the qualia to be purely color-line-surface sorts of things and not in any respect theory-laden.
Perhaps the interpretation changes but the qualia remains the same?
Then when and how does the quale ever change - i.e. when is the change not part of the interpretation? Or are we looking at a Parmenides-type situation?

I always thought that viewing the judgment/interpretation as distinct from the 'outside information' is problematic, to say the least. They can be viewed as two different causes, or as two different substances, or as two different concepts or as two different parts of perception. When you try to pin a philosopher down as to how they are referring to 'judgment' and 'sensation', they inevitably use the ambiguity to slide out of any difficult situations.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Sat May 23, 2015 4:26 pm

Ginkgo wrote:
Lawrence Crocker wrote:The series running from necker cube, through one way ambiguous figures, through the recognition of a friend, to the recognition of the friend's state of mind seems interesting because there is more judgment at each stage. For those who like their qualia raw, this makes, at the very least, for a somewhat difficult line drawing issue. How much judgment or inference or outside information can be involved in qualia?

I think the problem here for the qualia-friend is worse than that, however. This would be better shown by running the series the other direction, and perhaps starting with my seeing, upon looking at the picture of my friend in the crowd, that he has just had a fight with his significant other. No one wants to count that as part of the content of the quale, but, in fact, the same thing is going on with the necker cube. In seeing a line drawing as a cube, I am using outside information and making an inference, albeit an unconscious one. This is a problem for the qualia-friend, as it was for the friend of sense data, at least for those qualia friends who want the qualia to be purely color-line-surface sorts of things and not in any respect theory-laden.
Perhaps the interpretation changes but the qualia remains the same?
That is an option. Its drawback is that qualia so understood no longer seem to capture the phenomenal aspect of experience. The experience after seeing the Jesus figure is different from the experience before the figure popped out. We experience the necker cube in different ways. It does not seem to be experience, then interpretation.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by hammock » Sat May 23, 2015 6:46 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote:Some questions for the friends of qualia.When you experience, at a particular moment, a necker cube, does the quale come in one of 3 different flavors (out to right, up to left, or flat on page) and shift when you “see it” in a different way? Or is there a single quale that can change among these 3 appearances? Along the same lines, are there two different qualia before and after you see the Jesus image, or only a single quale here?

The content or phenomenal structure of the second image remained the same both before and after interpretation was applied to it (that is, the raw initial appearance of it versus later showings worked over by reflective thought). But after "Jesus" had been located / cognized, the concept of Jesus continually invades each perception of the image to emphasize or discriminate that face / upper body from the rest of background.

With the first picture, however, even an extended understanding of the object still results in my initial cognition of it most of the time (which is also supposedly the most common interpretation ascribed to a necker cube). Alternative conceptions / perspectives require a conscious effort to inject their influence into picture, whereas the Jesus discernment of the 2nd image automatically encroaches. I can't say that there was even a thoughtless apprehension of loose lines for a brief moment when first viewing it; the reflexive idea of their integration as a "box" seemed immediate.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by raw_thought » Sat May 30, 2015 5:15 pm

The necker cube is more evidence of qualia. Even if one could look into my brain and see the cube, it would still be a private experience. Similarly, if I visualize the duck/rabbit no one can tell if I am seeing a duck or a rabbit.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by raw_thought » Sat May 30, 2015 5:22 pm

"When you experience..."
from the OP
Qualia is a fancy name for experience. To deny that qualia exist means that one cannot even begin your experiment.
......
Here is Dennett’s (an opponent of qualia) definition of qualia,
“"Qualia" is an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us. 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.”
http://cogprints.org/254/1/quinqual.htm
Here is the dictionary definition of “experience”,
A particular incident, feeling, etc that a person has undergone.
To be emotionally or aesthetically moved by ; feel, to experience beauty.
The content of a perception regarded as independent of whether the apparent object actually exists.
FROM
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... experience

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat May 30, 2015 7:32 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote:Some questions for the friends of qualia.
i.html
Your questions are really odd, as if you do not quite understand what the concept of qualia represents.
Maybe you could indulge me by telling me your own take on the subject?
I imagine you know the story of Monochrome Mary. When first she emerged from the monochrome room a person hands her an apple. How can she tell if the apple is green or red?

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:33 pm

My questions arise from the suspicion that, like the old friends of sense data, there may well be unappreciated pathological ambiguities in the usage of “qualia”. For the argument that this was so for sense data see post of 8/17/14, www.lawrencecrocker.blogspot.com.

There is an ambiguity if it it not immediately clear to all friends of qualia whether there are two different qualia involving the Jesus figure before and after recognition, or only one. My guess is that there is no such confident unanimity, but I thought I would ask to see if I were wrong. If there is an ambiguity, it is not necessarily pathological as it was for sense data theories. That is a question for another day.

The Mary thought experiment needs some tinkering that may be philosophically important. A monochrome room is relatively easy with proper engineering of the ambient light so that, e.g. Mary will bleed gray, or, if you prefer, grey. There is a human subjects problem but none of epistemology or metaphysics in keeping Mary in the room from birth. However, that is not enough to keep colors out of Mary's life as you can easily demonstrate by closing your eyes and pressing very gently on your eyeball. The same effect will occur in completely dark caves or in monochrome rooms. So Mary's room must include some intrusive machinery for altering Mary's visual system neurophysiology to keep out all “internal” color effects. This represents a pretty strong change in the nature of the physical world in an argument intended to undermine physicalism.

But let us put that aside, along with, I think it's Dennett's, contention that Mary, knowing all the physical facts about physical color, neurophysiology, and linguistic sociology, will already have imagined a red apple. We can further ramp up the room's intrusion into Mary's brain to insure that this cannot happen either.

With these assumptions, there will certainly be something new about Mary's experience when she walks out the door. My question is how that difference is properly put into qualia language.

Mary sees a red apple. She sees it as an apple – a roughly spherical fruit that grows on trees, ripening in the autumn, eaten raw and used in pies and cider. She might imagine to herself, at that moment, a tree with many such red apples on them. She hears a friend say, “Fancy an apple, Mary?” Let us suppose that is what Mary experiences. Is there one quale here, or many qualia? If there are many, what is the nature of the most specific red apple quale? Is it an edible red fruit being offered to her by a friend, a spherical red apple, red color patch among other color patches?

Why is this important? Well, I am not certain that it is, but it has been traditional to ask the proponents of new metaphysical terminology to tell us how they would individuate the entities they intend to denominate. It's part of the craft of good metaphysicianship.

Moreover, it is always possible that disagreements about how to individuate qualia will show up an ambiguity in the term that will have consequences for the arguments in which it is used. That is what I put off for now.

If you think think that the interesting question in the qualia vicinity is whether Mary would recognize that the apple was red, this can be discussed perfectly well without introducing qualia. My answer to the question would be: it depends. Mary's knowledge of all things physical and her reasoning ability are all but unlimited, by hypothesis. So, even if she has no device for determining the wavelength of the light coming off the apple, there might well be enough evidence in the whole scene, apple variety, other colors, for her to infer that the apple was red.

If she were taken directly from the monochrome room to the red room, my tentative belief is that she would not know it was red -- unless we gave her a high resolution fMRI to use on herself. That, together with her knowledge of the fMRIs of others could be enough.

There is something about Mary, but there may not be as much as her closest friends think.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by hammock » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:15 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote:. . . There is an ambiguity if it it not immediately clear to all friends of qualia whether there are two different qualia involving the Jesus figure before and after recognition, or only one. My guess is that there is no such confident unanimity, but I thought I would ask to see if I were wrong. If there is an ambiguity, it is not necessarily pathological as it was for sense data theories. That is a question for another day. . . .

The images posted here are just that: They are monochrome combinations which accordingly create a spatial organization of details whose relations allow them to be open to multiple interpretation. Whereas a quale in isolation is supposed to be elemental; its unadulterated manifestation would lack structure (thus enabling the supposed ineffability of having no details to describe). The primal qualitative element CAN be extended / repeated over space, like green completely filling the outline of a leaf in a child's coloring book. It might even be contended that a single, ideal pixel of color would be so tiny as to not be discernable as that color, that it must replicate over more territory for its trait to be shown / validated. But in the course of instances like a rotten odor or a high-pitched sound having a "directional location" (i.e., more inferred there than being confined to a dimensionless point), or a burning sensation of pain extending over a skin area, there is still a supposed lack of features or heterogeneity in the basic quale itself.

In turn, that absence of detail would seem to make variable interpretations difficult (unlike the situation here of whole images, where black / white qualities are connectively structured into objects, patterns, etc). Personal judgments could be applied to a quale, just as a bell tone could be "pleasant" in the afternoon or "irritating" in the middle of the night. But these subsequent acts of reflective thought don't alter the original occurrence which stimulated both a discriminating word-label and any choice of appraising personal conceptions that was appended to it.

Despite all the chatter about inverted or arbitrarily deviating qualia over the years, it would be rather astounding that the majority of us could really arrive at such consensus about the properties of experience if they could literally manifest so dissimilarly from person to person. Only minorities like the color-blind would potentially object to the hexadecimal #A52A2A either not being brown or being the code of a useless color distinction for them. That most of us share the same operating system for outputting phenomenal characteristics would be the reason for discarding qualia as being defined as subjective or private. Since the bloody color of an orange is publicly and inter-subjectively "out there" on that fruit-object in the sense of treating our collective extrospections or the agreement in our empirical reports as the external environment. Rather than elevating real status to either a material metaphysics or a scientific realism version of the world which is trumpeted as being completely mind-independent and thus devoid of such brain-generated qualities.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:06 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote:My questions arise from the suspicion that, like the old friends of sense data, there may well be unappreciated pathological ambiguities in the usage of “qualia”. For the argument that this was so for sense data see post of 8/17/14, http://www.lawrencecrocker.blogspot.com.

There is an ambiguity if it it not immediately clear to all friends of qualia whether there are two different qualia involving the Jesus figure before and after recognition, or only one. My guess is that there is no such confident unanimity, but I thought I would ask to see if I were wrong. If there is an ambiguity, it is not necessarily pathological as it was for sense data theories. That is a question for another day.

The Mary thought experiment needs some tinkering that may be philosophically important. A monochrome room is relatively easy with proper engineering of the ambient light so that, e.g. Mary will bleed gray, or, if you prefer, grey. There is a human subjects problem but none of epistemology or metaphysics in keeping Mary in the room from birth. However, that is not enough to keep colors out of Mary's life as you can easily demonstrate by closing your eyes and pressing very gently on your eyeball. The same effect will occur in completely dark caves or in monochrome rooms. So Mary's room must include some intrusive machinery for altering Mary's visual system neurophysiology to keep out all “internal” color effects. This represents a pretty strong change in the nature of the physical world in an argument intended to undermine physicalism.

But let us put that aside, along with, I think it's Dennett's, contention that Mary, knowing all the physical facts about physical color, neurophysiology, and linguistic sociology, will already have imagined a red apple. We can further ramp up the room's intrusion into Mary's brain to insure that this cannot happen either.

With these assumptions, there will certainly be something new about Mary's experience when she walks out the door. My question is how that difference is properly put into qualia language.

Mary sees a red apple. She sees it as an apple – a roughly spherical fruit that grows on trees, ripening in the autumn, eaten raw and used in pies and cider. She might imagine to herself, at that moment, a tree with many such red apples on them. She hears a friend say, “Fancy an apple, Mary?” Let us suppose that is what Mary experiences. Is there one quale here, or many qualia? If there are many, what is the nature of the most specific red apple quale? Is it an edible red fruit being offered to her by a friend, a spherical red apple, red color patch among other color patches?

Why is this important? Well, I am not certain that it is, but it has been traditional to ask the proponents of new metaphysical terminology to tell us how they would individuate the entities they intend to denominate. It's part of the craft of good metaphysicianship.

Moreover, it is always possible that disagreements about how to individuate qualia will show up an ambiguity in the term that will have consequences for the arguments in which it is used. That is what I put off for now.

If you think think that the interesting question in the qualia vicinity is whether Mary would recognize that the apple was red, this can be discussed perfectly well without introducing qualia. My answer to the question would be: it depends. Mary's knowledge of all things physical and her reasoning ability are all but unlimited, by hypothesis. So, even if she has no device for determining the wavelength of the light coming off the apple, there might well be enough evidence in the whole scene, apple variety, other colors, for her to infer that the apple was red.

If she were taken directly from the monochrome room to the red room, my tentative belief is that she would not know it was red -- unless we gave her a high resolution fMRI to use on herself. That, together with her knowledge of the fMRIs of others could be enough.

There is something about Mary, but there may not be as much as her closest friends think.
The practicality of making a real monochrome room is utterly irrelevant, and whilst Mary might poke herself in the eye, without an external referent, she is unable to nominate the rainbow of colours, though she may now know what colours "feel" like.
I think it's Dennett's, contention that Mary, knowing all the physical facts about physical color, neurophysiology, and linguistic sociology, will already have imagined a red apple.
Does Dennett really say this? If so I am really beginning to doubt his intellectual capacity. Do you know how the thinks she would be able to do this?
My reaction to this is that you seem to like using words, but to little effect. When you finally get to Mary leaving the room, I think we can agree that although she finally observes that objects in the worlds have colour. In other words she finally perceives colour, she is unable to nominate colours despite her vast experience. So far so good.

You then seem to have a question about the delimitation of one quale with another, why I know not. I do not think we have need to understand the principle that experience is necessarily unique to each of us, and I'm not sure there is any value is trying to atomise that experience. When we feel for a person, for example, it's never pure love, hate, anticipation, fear, respect, ad infinitem, we feel that person, and the nominated concepts are only approximations like venn diagrams over a complex emotional state. Love, hate, evil and so on are not forces of nature, which we can pick out like a pick and pix - they are more like clumsy attempts to help explain how we are feeling. The hue, tone, and "colour" of an object is the same in as much as there is no pure, perfect "RED, Green, Blue".

The Jesus image. The brain is trying to identify a pattern, and compares what it knows. Camels and car in the clouds are the same. The brain has a specialised area for the recognition of faces, and clouds tend to offer us more faces than any other thing. Is this all really about qualia or just visual illusions.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Wyman » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:36 am

I think it's Dennett's, contention that Mary, knowing all the physical facts about physical color, neurophysiology, and linguistic sociology, will already have imagined a red apple.
Does Dennett really say this? If so I am really beginning to doubt his intellectual capacity. Do you know how the thinks she would be able to do this?
The gist of his argument - or a part of it - is that the idea of 'knowing all the physical facts about' something doesn't make sense. It's a complete fiction and none of us could know what it would mean to know all of the physical facts about anything. So, since anything can be proven from an absurdity, it makes just as much sense to say that Mary already knows the color red as that she doesn't. I don't agree much with Dennett, but I do agree here - Mary's room is silly.

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Re: Questions for the friends of qualia.

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:18 pm

Dennett does indeed say that Mary would know, specifically when presented with a blue banana when just out of the room, that "You tried to trick me! Bananas are yellow, but this one is blue" . . .You have to remember that I know everything -- absolutely everything -- that could ever be known about the physical causes and effects of color vision. So of course before your brought the banana in. I had already written down, in exquisite detail, exactly what physical impression a yellow object or a blue object . . .would make on my nervous system. So I already knew exactly what thoughts I would have . . ." Consciousness Explained" pp. 399-400.

Dennett's claim is that neither Jackson, nor anyone else but Churchland and himself, take Jackson's description "all physical facts" seriously. We assume that Mary is only a very good color vision scientist, not a physical-fact-omniscient one. Dennett, however, would, I think take as basically friendly Wyman's suggestion that the Mary thought experiment doesn't make because "all physical facts" is a defective expression. Perhaps Dennett-Wyman: either Mary's room makes no sense or its proper conclusion is that Mary would learn nothing new when let out of the room.

I am not inclined to think that it is a problem for the thought experiment that "all physical facts" would be an infinite set, and so beyond any real Mary. That there may be some important ambiguities in "physical facts" worries me more.

Some of the qualia-friendly reaction to Dennett's blue banana has been to grant that it Mary knows everything about the the physical facts, including her own neurophysiology, that she will be able to do what Dennett says, but that there will still be something that she didn't know about blue when she saw the blue banana i.e. what the blue experience was like -- the qualia. This has then gone into discussions of different kinds of knowledge and whether one of them is properly called "knowledge" at all.

Insofar as this brings front and center just what qualia are, my questions about how they are to be individuated might turn out to be important. An entity that cannot be defined in a way that works with its role in an argument is a serious problem.

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