Can functionalism account for qualia?

I am not sure. Chalmers says no, in that he offers a form of qualia realism which says consciousness is not reducible to the physical/functional. What do you think? Any ideas? … p?t=139918


As someone interested mostly in (neo-)Scholastic realsm, I would agree that, yes, consciousness is not reducible to the physical. This is mainly shown by the nature of the intellect as spiritual since it knows immaterial things. What does Chalmers say?

By the way, remind me what “qualia” are…the category of qualities?
I need a better definition of “functionalism” as well.
Sorry, it’s been a while since i took philosophy in college.

quality outside of the thing having the quality…

like the whiteness of snow outside of snow…

and they hang out with the ganglia…


So it’s whiteness as known by the senses etc.?

yes, I believe so…


I am afraid I don’t have the time to outline functionalism and qualia. (see Online Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy, “Qualia” and “Funtionalism” entry.) However, I suspect Chalmers would say that you make an assumption. Where you said “consciousness is not reducible to the physical…” as “the nature of the intellect as spiritual since it knows immaterial things”, you are assuming that those “immaterial things” are not physical themselves. You need an ARGUMENT why they are not physical.



Okay, lets see what you think of this argument:

First imagine a horse: black, from the side, siitting.

Second, imagine another horse: white, from the front, standing.

These images do not look like one another in the imagination, but we know them both to be “horse”. On reflection, this shows that the imagination of man and universals of man are different: the imagination may be material bacause it’s spacial, but the understanding is not physical, because there is no third horse to compare the two horses – except for the immaterial horse.

I’m sure my teachers could put it better, but that’s as well as I know it. What will you do with this argument?

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