Dualism and Qualia

Philosophy of Mind


Do people have a soul?
• • Why? Why not?

What is a soul?
• Non physical • Not explained by physics. • Not a part of physical world. * Can exist without a body. * Can exist without a brain.

Problems with soul?
• Non physical • This means its not part of the physical universe. It can’t be explained by physics. Its not matter, its not energy. It’s separate from the universe.

PROBLEM • How, then, can the soul interact with things in the universe? • e.g. how can a person’s soul affect the way they think? • How can it cause a person to act? • What sort of wire could you use to connect the physical to the non-physical?

Problems with soul?
• Can exist without a body. • Can exist without a brain.

If this is true, then why do we need brains? If the soul can do all the thinking, and can somehow cause our body’s to act, then what do our brains do?

On the other hand, if brains can think and feel, then what need is there for a soul?

Why introduce a soul to the world when it is not required?

• • Despite these problems, many people believe that souls exist Such people think people are made of 2 different types of substance Physical stuff (the body, brain, etc) Non-physical stuff (the mind, consciousness)

1 2

The idea is that the mind and consciousness cannot be explained by science. They are non-physical and therefore cannot be explained by laws of physics (present or future). No laws of physics or science will be able to explain the mind and consciousness. These are separate from the physical universe (which contains our bodies, planets, light, radiowaves, energy, etc.)

Dualism is the idea that people are made of 2 different types of stuff

1 Physical stuff (the body, brain, etc) 2 Non-physical stuff (the mind, consciousness)
People who think dualism is true are called dualists. People who think dualism is false are known as physicalists (they believe that the mind can only be explained by looking at the physical structure of the brain)

How would you show that dualism is true?

You need to show that conscious experiences (or the mind) cannot be explained by the physical properties of the brain.
An example of a conscious experience is the experience of color

What are Qualia? The essence of experience. For example,

1. The blueness of the color blue.
2. The hurtfulness of pain

3. The sweetness of a sweet taste
Qualia are the qualities of the experience. Quality of experience is only really knowable to you and is hard to describe to other people – e.g. try to describe the experience of red to a colorblind person.

Are qualia internal or external? What does this question mean?

An example: does the color Blue exist in the external world, or is it just something that exists in the mind?

Colors seem real to us, but they do not exist in the external world (the world outside the mind). What can science tell us about the color blue? There are wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, which are being reflected off object surfaces. There is no Blue, just electromagnetic radiation. But WHERE is the Blueness? Where is that rich, lush sensation of Blue?

It is in the mind

Question: Is saccharin sweet or bitter?

Most people find it sweet, but a percentage of people think it’s bitter.
All rats taste it as sweet, but all cats taste it as bitter

What is the point?

The point is that the taste isn’t a property of the saccharin. It has certain chemical properties, but taste is something that happens internally to the taster.

Back to Color
Does this can contain redness?

It looks different to colorblind people
It looks different on Mars

The properties of the can remain the same everywhere The color must be something in the mind. If there were no minds, there would be no redness.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?


So it seems that Qualia are internal not external Qualia are in the mind, not in the world Next time we will try to find Qualia in the brain. If we can’t find qualia in the brain, then it would seem that they are non physical. If so, dualism is true

Powerpoint by BRENT SILBY Produced at UPT Christchurch, New Zealand www.unlimited.school.nz