Qualia: plural of qua·le. Noun: A quality or property as perceived or experienced by a person.
Qualia (kwɑːliə or kweɪliə), singular “quale” (Latin pronunciation: [kwaːle]), from a Latin word meaning for “what sort” or “what kind,” is a term used in philosophy to refer to subjective conscious experiences as ‘raw feels’. 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.”
Erwin Schrödinger 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.”
Feelings and experiences vary widely. For example, I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, I am the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this standard, broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia. Disagreement typically centers on which mental states have qualia, whether qualia are intrinsic qualities of their bearers, and how qualia relate to the physical world both inside and outside the head. The status of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy largely because it is central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia are at the very heart of the mind-body problem.
– (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Qualia are simply how we experience our world when we are conscious. We are not conscious of the electrical spikes that are buzzing in our brain, but we are conscious of the Qualia which represent these spikes. The experience of colors represents the electric spikes conveyed from our color sensitive cells in our eyes, and that of sound from sound sensitive cells in our ears and so on for all the other senses.
– (Nagi Hatoum, M.D., M.S.E.E. Biotele.com)
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know
— John Keats – “Ode on a Grecian Urn“
“Twas ever thus.”
– Mr. Natural (R. Crumb)
– Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
– Shakyamuni Buddha