Similar to this question I wondered whether affect was a qualia, and if so whether it can be shown to depend on other aspects of experience (consciousness, tactile feelings).

Perhaps there is nothing it is like to feel love we just learn to relabel out sensations.

1 Answer 1


I believe we can have qualia of "internal" sensations.

Qualia is of our internal brain activity, and therefore there is no reason in principle why it should be restricted to senses corresponding to external phenomena.

that is, when you are looking at your monitor, you are having qualia of the activity of neurons in your brain, not of an external monitor.

therefore, there isn't really a difference between having qualia of color, and having qualia of sexual desire; these are two phenomena occurring in your brain for which you can have qualia.

so yes, you can have qualia of emotional sensations, such as affection, or anger, etc...

As for love, this is a bit more complicated since it depends on how you define love, or being in love, or feeling love.

I do not believe we have qualia of abstract concepts, such as justice, etc... so if you define love an abstract concept, then the answer is no.

if you identify love with a combination of anger, sexual desire, strongly wanting to make sure someone else is safe or happy, etc..., then the answer is yes.

and if you do not know how to define love, then the answer is who knows...

  • i was hoping for shared assumption RE defining terms
    – user6917
    Apr 10, 2015 at 13:01
  • @MATHEMATICIAN the trick with defining terms is that we can define them any way we please, but generally draw the lines where they are most helpful to us. It may be most helpful for one person to define love as its own qualia and another person to define it in terms of relabeling sensations. However, neither side will convince the other to take their viewpoint unless they can demonstrate that the value of their viewpoint outweighs the value of other viewpoint in the mind of the other individual. It's a tricky task indeed, that definition.
    – Cort Ammon
    Apr 10, 2015 at 15:33
  • hay MATH, what banal truism of @CortAmmon do you refer to? didn't seem so banal to me. Apr 12, 2015 at 3:12
  • some of us, who are not pure materialists, might not limit qualia to only what is "internal brain activity". we might see some metaphysical character to our consciousness and qualia within it. if i were a pure materialist, i would agree that "qualia is of our internal brain activity". but i think it is more than that. Apr 12, 2015 at 3:18
  • @MATHEMATICIAN You had mentioned hoping for "shared assumption regarding defining terms." That's why I mentioned the truism. If you're looking for a general meaning of qualia which you can expect everyone to hold to, it will be a difficult search.
    – Cort Ammon
    Apr 12, 2015 at 5:10

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