Qualia Basics

A quick way to clarify what qualia is for those who are opposed to the term on the grounds that it doesn’t mean anything.

Top mug: Blue qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 490 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Center mug: Red Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 690 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Bottom mug: Multicolored Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 780 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

What you see is qualia, not electromagnetic radiation. You can see red qualia in your dreams or visual imagination, but you couldn’t see electromagnetic radiation in the visible range there because it doesn’t physically exist in your brain. Electromagnetism is invisible and is a property transmitted by tangible, mechanical, photoelectric effects on matter in public space.

Visible light is qualia which can be *stimulated to appear* through tangible, mechanical photo-electric effects on matter in public space, but the qualia itself is not that stimulation. The qualia itself is a visible, aesthetic-participatory phenomenon that depends on your ability to access an intangible palette of visible hues, the extent of which is unknowable (there are at least three primary colors, but there may be many more, or infinitely many more, or new ones all the time…we don’t know.)

  1. Matt
    January 18, 2020 at 5:20 am

    I suspect that there can’t be colors “outside” the visible range that we perceive as the palette, because, in some platonic way, it is THE palette. Our inability to imagine an unseen color is then evidence that no such color “exists”. What perhaps could grow if our minds were larger, or more attuned to subtleties in variations of light waves, is the ability to discriminate more and more hues WITHIN the palette. Indeed, according to some theories of consciousness (IIT) seeing one color, red say, JUST IS not seeing blue, green, yellow etc. In other words, one color contains them all via a kind of informational negation. (What is experienced is determined by what could be experienced but isn’t.) The more potential discriminations the more specific every actual color will be. But even here, the aesthetic limits of color experience seem “bounded” by black and white as a kind of meta-polarity of visual sense, in regards to color at least. The “palette” emerges as discriminatory mechanisms within this polarity increase.

    • January 18, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      I agree, it seems like the pallette we can see is THE palette, although I don’t think that our inability to imagine other hues would constitute evidence they don’t exist (for the same reason that a blind person’s inability to imagine any color is evidence that color doesn’t exist). Mainly I base it on the sense of closure in the visible spectrum, with violet seeming to wrap around toward purple/magenta/red. Also people with four pigment cone cells instead of three report additional shades of existing colors that trichromats see, rather than a completely new primary color that is invisible to trichromats.

      I like the idea of each hue as the exclusion of other hues, and it goes along with my overall proposal of sense/consciousness being the sole universal absolute (The Aesthetic Holos) from which all phenomena are diffracted or divided (graphed via modulated insensitivity/entropy).

      • Matthew Richard Sigl
        January 18, 2020 at 8:37 pm

        Yes, the point about the “wrap around” closure of the spectrum is dead on. Just as a scale of music can only contain a bounded (if theoretically infinite) number of different ascending tones before it necessarily, inevitably, hits the “octave,” so color too seems to come close to its octave limit at the borders.

      • January 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm

        The “octave” is one of those suspiciously conspicuous signatures of divinity/order/intelligence, like the duality of Sun and Moon. It’s just too easy to read it as cosmologically meaningful. It’s so easy that it even invites us to read it as the opposite (coincidental, asignifying)…which is then cosmologically meaningful again, because opposites.

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