3

When I pick up an object, I feel its heaviness. Classical mechanics tells us that what determines how heavy something feels to a given person is a property of matter called mass. I see a kind of similiarity between this case and the case about color (i.e. how a given person perceives a certain color has to do with wavelength of light). So, after all, is the feeling of how heavy something is usually considered to be a quale?

  • Historical note: The relationship between heaviness and mass was one of the first things to be investigated in psychophysics. cis.rit.edu/people/faculty/montag/vandplite/pages/chap_3/… Later it was shown that how heavy something feels also depends on its shape and colour, black objects feel heavier, for example. – Lucas Apr 19 '14 at 16:52
  • The dependance on a shape makes sense (shame I forgot about that). Does the dependance on a color have to do with the radiation pressure? – user132181 Apr 19 '14 at 17:01
  • No. It's as purely psychological as anything can be. Radiation pressure is a very very very small force (the incorrect but widely circulated hypothesis that radiation pressure turns a Crookes radiometer often contributes to people overestimating its magnitude, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) – Lucas Apr 19 '14 at 17:41
  • Got it. I would really love to get an answer from you, just saying :) – user132181 Apr 19 '14 at 17:50
  • 1
    Everything is qualia. Everything you feel. ABSOLUTELY. Even the complex feeling that you have hands. Look! It's my hands! Take now your hands and look at them, ain't they amazing?! They are yours. You got another qualia. It trough these hands you feel heavy feeling. And so many others. – Asphir Dom Apr 19 '14 at 23:09
3

From the SEP

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 broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia.

Heaviness is a feeling - it feels heavy; it has a subjective character - I feel that this suitcase is heavy; it is phenomenal - until I pick up that suitcase it won't feel heavy. Being angry, for example, isn't phenomenal - I can't hear, or see or smell something that makes me angry; this isn't to say that listening to someone libel me won't make me angry, but here it isn't the phenomenal experience of sound that is causing the anger, but what is being said.

So heaviness is an example of qualia - but not a common one. Heaviness is on the perceptual side of perception-physical divide, its corresponding physical cause is pressure.

More commonly, examples are drawn from colour, say redness, whose physical cause is a certain wavelength of light.

  • The same source you quote, lists moods as states having qualia "Felt moods, for example, feeling elated, depressed, calm, bored, tense, miserable. (For more here, see Haugeland 1985, pp. 230–235)". Hard as I try I haven't yet found a thing I can be conscious of not having a corresponding qualia, including thoughts, feeling, and any sensation at all; do you have an example of such a thing? – nir Aug 8 '14 at 14:40
  • Interesting question - I can't either; which leads one to suspect that its never possible. It would nice to have a watertight argument that demonstrates this. But I can't think of one. Perhaps one should start with the fact that consciousness is embodied; and perhaps another angle is to ask what can't have qualia: a stone - in a sense it 'experiences' gravity; but can one say that it is 'conscious' of gravity? – Mozibur Ullah Aug 20 '14 at 0:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.