Frank Jackson Epiphenomenal Qualia

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In the paper “Epiphenomenal Qualia,” Frank Jackson makes an argument in favor of qualia and against physicalism. Qualia are internal components of the senses that are a result of phenomena stimulating the senses with no purely physical information. Physicalism, on the other hand, argues that the physical world can account for everything humans experience. Jackson argues in favor of qualia thereby rejecting the idea that the physical world can explain everything. But Jackson’s argument does not successfully negate physicalism. Indeed, physicalism is a better explanation for qualia because it better reflects how humans interact with the world around them. In order to explain to the reader what qualia are, Jackson invokes the hypothetical story about Mary. In summary: 1. Mary is colorblind, but knows everything there is to know about the physical properties of colors. 2. One day she is able to see colors that she could not see with her knowledge 3. Jackson argues that this is new knowledge and therefore argues that not all information is physical.…show more content…
It is true that Mary knows all that there is to know about colors and how the human brain interprets them. When she escapes her black-and-white life, she is able to point out red roses and green grass. Experiencing red is different from knowing its properties, so Jackson posits that this is proof that Mary gained new knowledge that physicalism cannot account for so therefore physicalism is false. Using Jackson’s language, qualia disprove physicalism, but qualia are real, so therefore physicalism is not real. But in claiming this, Jackson relies on the idea that seeing the color red is a form of knowledge as opposed to a faculty. This is the assumption that the concept of qualia rests on. Jackson further argues that qualia are qualia because they only exist for us. That is, physical events in the outside world might impact humans, but qualia within humans cannot impact the outside

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