What are qualia...

From: Philip Sutton (Philip.Sutton@green-innovations.asn.au)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2005 - 21:48:34 MST


I just been thinking about qualia a bit more recently.

(I have to make a disclaimer. I know next to nothing about them, but other
people's ideas from this list have been fermenting in my mind for a while.)

Anyway, here goes......

How about the idea that qualia are properties generated in the brain relating to
the *experience* of real world. They are artifacts that are generated as ways
of embedding labels or evaluations of data from the real world into the data
streams that, in the brain, are tagged as being 'real'. eg. 'red' is an
identification label, a 'stink' is a safety evaluation.

Using qualia is probably the quickest way to compile data about the real world
into a digested form that contains everything from data that is relatively close
to what the real world is like together with other subjective responses from
within the brain that is convenient to be transferred through the brain tightly
bound to the data that might be considered more objective.

Given that biological systems have had hundreds of millions of years to evolve
this 'objective'/'subjective'data bundling it is no wonder that it seems
marvellously rich and seemless and carries an overwhelming sense of being

Once complex brained / complecly motivated creatures start using qualia they
could play into lifepatterns so profoundly that even obscure trends in the use
of qualia for aesthetic purposes could actually effect reproductive prospects.
For example, male peacocks have large tails that look nice - clearly qualia are
playing a role in the differentiation process that decides which peacocks will
be more or less successful in breeding.

Cheers, Philip

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