Last Updated: 12th August, 2019
Qualia: Since we’re talking about illusions and reality perception, there’s also this concept called qualia that puts the whole thing into question. This is more of a philosophical mystery than a scientific one, but we couldn’t resist adding it here, because it brings everything into question. In philosophy as well as certain models of psychology, qualia is described as specific instances of subjective, human consciousness in philosophy and certain models of psychology.
The term itself comes from the Latin word quālis, which means “of what kind.” The renowned American Philosopher C.I. Lewis is credited with first using it in a modern way in his book ‘Mind and the World Order.’
Think of qualia as the experiences that you have with the world. Now, in order to live in society, we have to agree on the validity of experiences. You are sitting on a bench minding your own business and I walk up and punch you in the nose, there is a shared experience not just between us, but also with all the bystanders who saw it happen.
When the police arrive, and you and other bystanders describe what I did, I’m going to jail. This is because it is a shared experience, and everyone’s qualia match. However, how do we know that everything does indeed match?
Take, for example, two people (A and B) who have only one major difference – while one sees colors normally, the other sees them inverted. Both have grown up learning the same name for colors, and thus A thinks of the background of our logo as “red” and B thinks of the inverse (which appears light blue) as “red” also.
The text ‘digit’ is also viewed the same way – A call the text on the left ‘white’ and B calls the text on the right ‘white.’ The same applies to dark, light, and pretty much everything else as well.
Since there’s no disagreement between the two ever, and both always see each other, use the correct names for colors, they would think that the world looks identical to both of them. Yet, we know for a fact that if A was shown what B sees, he would certainly disagree with B that the image on the right is a white logo on a red background.
This is the simplest way we can think of to illustrate the qualia problem (of human consciousness in philosophy), which essentially calls into question reality itself. Yet again, it’s time to walk beyond the unknown, i.e. Lygometry!