Re: q***** [that is, "qualia"]

Dan Fabulich (
Wed, 15 Dec 1999 03:16:38 -0500 (EST)

'What is your name?' 'jeff nordahl.' 'Do you deny having written the following?':

> Doubting that anything exists creates a stasis through paralysis of
> analysis.

Who's doubting the existence of the real world? This is a strawman. I'm *fully* committed to the existence of the real physical world. I also have an argument against the existence of qualia. On this count, conflating my position with Berkeley-esque idealism or nihilism is, arguably, the most preposterous error one could possibly imagine. Berkeley thought qualia was all there was, and no physical world. I think the physical world is all there is! Big difference.

> The skeptic serves his/her purpose well if their doubts fertilize a
> new branch of thought for science to pursue, but if the only intention
> of the skeptic is to just be a pain in the ass, then I suggest
> slitting your jugular vain and smile in your sweet victory over the
> illusion of existence and qualia.

Excuse me. The skeptic has ALSO done his job by getting the scientists NOT to work on things, like trying to find elan vital.

Furthermore, you have simply confused the existence of qualia with existence in general. I think that the real world exists, and that there are no qualia in it. I will not slit my throat under any circumstances. This is only the practical view!

> pragmatic theory of truth- a statement or belief is true if and only if "it
> works," if it allows us to predict certain results, if it allows us to
> function effectively in everyday life, and if it encourages further inquiry
> or helps us lead better lives.

What does <qualia> get us? *Nothing*. It's derived from nothing, it allows us to predict nothing, it helps us not at all compared to the alternative (functionalism, for the curious!), and in no way improves anyone's lives. The world would be a better place were it not for <qualia>.

I consider myself a pragmatist through-and-through: <qualia> is a completely useless idea, and that's a big part of the reason why we ought not to believe in them. When I say "I'm hungry," "maximize pleasure," "fear leads to anger," I mean what I say. I mean it in a functionalist sense. I don't mean I'm having a qualia, or that qualia exist. I don't have to. I can make all of the same predictions of someone who posits the existence of qualia WITHOUT all those tedious assumptions. <Qualia> doesn't predict anything at all.


-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-

e.e. cummings