Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 9 September 2006


Daniel Dennett delineates the properties of Qualia (as an extension of the definition) in his paper Quining Qualia.[1]

They are as follows:

  1. Ineffable; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any other means than direct experience. [the inefficacies of language, If Qualia can be physically differentiated, then…]
  2. Intrinsic; that is, they are non-relational properties, which do not change depending on the experience’s relation to other things. [Intrinsic to what? what does this mean? The very term qualitative implies judgment, a relation to something…]
  3. Private; that is, all interpersonal comparisons of qualia are systematically impossible. [physically located within a complicated system, all and impossible, where does he get this? from irreducible…?]
  4. Directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness; that is, to experience a quale is to know one experiences a quale, and to know all there is to know about that quale. [Of course, I’m sure this takes into account knowing your quale without knowing what a philosopher means by quale. There’s that all word again…]

Check out how he breaks down his argument against these.  Or do I need to do that.  it seems I don’t quite agree with his definition of quale.  I suppose the task is to approach defining qualia from the other side; in a way that doesn’t aim to debunk their existence.  [Theory laden nature of observations].

‘Quine’: In The Philosophical Lexicon, [edited by Dennett] the word is used in jest to mean “To deny resolutely the existence or importance of something real or significant.” Since then, the word has been used seriously in many papers to denote the proposed elimination (or reduction) of a thing or concept.

From Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism: “…in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.”

The truth value of self-referring [sentences]. liar paradox. 


[1] There is some disagreement about whether or not all, some or none of these are representative properties of qualia. The properties as presented could be an extended definition of Qualia, are enough for my purposes and need to be addressed anyway.





  1. […] Referring back to the Dennett post/note: […]

  2. […] Qualia as untransferable Referring back to the Dennett post/note: […]


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