Philosophy Qualia
by
Clare Batty
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0095

Introduction

You wake up to the sounds of the birds chirping. You open up the curtains and take in the colors of the flowering trees outside. Walking downstairs you are greeted by the smell of the coffee brewing. In each case, you undergo an experience with a distinctive phenomenal “feel.” That is to say, there is something that it is like to hear the birds chirping, smell the coffee, and see the colors of the flowers outside. Each, we say, is an experience with qualia. In neutral terms, qualia are those features, whatever they are, that account for the phenomenal character of experience. Tradition has it that perceptual experiences have qualia, as do bodily sensations, felt moods, and felt emotions. This entry focuses on philosophical issues and questions of qualia.

General Overviews

There are unfortunately no texts that provide a general overview of the issues surrounding qualia. Most texts are devoted to broader issues of consciousness on which the question of qualia comes to bear. Still, an excellent online overview comes in the form of the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy entry on qualia (Tye 2010).

  • Tye, Michael. “Qualia.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2010.

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    This is an extremely clear and comprehensive introduction to qualia and related issues. As such, it provides a useful, jumping off point for anyone interested in knowing more about qualia.

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