Fandango’s Provocative Question this week involves “qualia”, described by him below:
This week’s provocative question asks about how we perceive the world in which we live. There is a philosophical and psychological concept called qualia, which states that our surroundings can only be observed through the filter of our senses and the ruminations of our minds.
Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, or the perceived redness of an evening sky. In other words, everything you know, everything you’ve touched, seen, and smelled, has been filtered through any number of physiological and cognitive processes. And that brings me to this week’s question:
“Do you believe that anyone can really
experience anything objectively?
Why or why not?”
There is no view without a viewer. It is why the experience is called subjective and not objective. I believe people – and other living things – can have shared experiences, where you might drink wine while watching the evening sky together, but what each of you tastes and each of you sees will be filtered through your senses and cognitive processes.
I think there are certain philosophies like Buddhism or Zen, where the goal is to detach from your senses and your cognitive processes and to regard your experiences as if you were a camera, an inanimate object, taking pictures. I think there is a way to detach emotions from what one is observing or experiencing, at least for periods of time, but I do not believe that is the natural state to be desired as a human being.
If someone got a libotomy that destroyed the limbic/feeling regions of the brain, they might observe objectively but they would also be drooling zombies.