Dennett's Quining Qual Analysis

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Qualia, in the broader sense of the word, is understood as the qualitative properties of conscious experience or the phenomenal character of experience (i.e. what it is like subjectively to undergo the experience). The meaning of the term “qualia” will differ based on which philosopher’s views you support. In this paper, I will be focusing on Dennett’s views; there are other views on qualia but I will not be examining these views in my essay. Since centuries past, countless studies have attempted to uncover the root cause of qualia and understand how it relates to the notion of consciousness, but a definite conclusion has yet to be reached. Moreover, our rapidly advancing technological world presents many new and thought-provoking questions…show more content…
as ineffable, private, intrinsic, and directly apprehensible properties of consciousness). The notion that qualia are ineffable is due to the belief that we cannot exactly express or describe our experiences in language. Due to qualia’s supposed ineffability, we believe that qualia are private since it is impossible to perform interpersonal comparisons when we cannot fully express our phenomenal experiences. We also think of qualia as private because it seems that every individual has privileged access to our own qualia (i.e. first-hand perspective of one’s experiences). Qualia are thought to be intrinsic insofar as phenomenal experiences are somehow atomic, simple or homogenous, and therefore unanalysable without direct experience. Lastly, we believe that qualia are directly apprehensible through consciousness in the sense that we seem to have the capacity to reflect on our experiences, which therefore makes qualia immediately accessible to the consciousness of their experiencer. Dennett aims to prove that there is no concrete proof that qualia has these special attributes mentioned above and also, in a way, present a new understanding of qualia through his intuition pumps – that qualia are phenomenal information (PI) properties, where PI is simply a phenomenal type of information that can only be gained through…show more content…
To start off, I will introduce the notion of “virtual machines”. Dennett brought this concept to light in Consciousness Explained (1991), when he suggested that “conscious human minds are more-or-less serial virtual machines implemented - inefficiently - on the parallel hardware evolution has provided for us”. From my understanding, a virtual machine is essentially an entity that operates on a computer but has its own distinct characteristics, which are mostly independent of its computer’s processing nature. An example is the virtual calculator that most computers have, which is of a different physical composition from a real calculator but can still perform calculations just the same. However, do note that my paper entails a much more complex version than the virtual calculator example (e.g. the virtual machine must have the capacity to perform humanlike cognitive functions). Dennett saw virtuality as a means of overcoming the limitations of materialism in the study of consciousness. This is because in a virtual domain, we need not consider the way in which the material of the brain causes mental states – instead, it is plausible to just treat mental states as the result of a virtual machine operating on a parallel material of the neural brain. In other words, the notion of virtual machines enables us to

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