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Old January 5th, 2013, 07:40 AM   #1
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Mary, the Color-Blind Scientist

The following is a quotation from the philosopher Frank Jackson, regarding his thought experiment to demonstrate the existence of "qualia."
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Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? [4]
This is one of the big questions of contemporary philosophy. I would like to get the thoughts of the forum and discuss it. Did Mary learn something new? Is there, perhaps, a flaw in the thought experiment itself?
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Old January 30th, 2017, 09:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The following is a quotation from the philosopher Frank Jackson, regarding his thought experiment to demonstrate the existence of "qualia."


This is one of the big questions of contemporary philosophy. I would like to get the thoughts of the forum and discuss it. Did Mary learn something new? Is there, perhaps, a flaw in the thought experiment itself?
Nope.

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Old January 30th, 2017, 09:19 AM   #3
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Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal cords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence ‘The sky is blue’. [...] What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not

Assuming Mary is actually brilliant and has experienced the phenomenon of color through her vision previous to the experiment, she indeed learns quite a bit about sensory deprivation, vocalization, anatomy....etc..

If she instead has only experienced a black and white world, she has an uncanny grasp of what color is and has learned about sensory action regardless.
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Old January 31st, 2017, 05:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The following is a quotation from the philosopher Frank Jackson, regarding his thought experiment to demonstrate the existence of "qualia."


This is one of the big questions of contemporary philosophy. I would like to get the thoughts of the forum and discuss it. Did Mary learn something new? Is there, perhaps, a flaw in the thought experiment itself?
I'd say she learned something new. There are different ways of knowing.
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Old February 4th, 2017, 09:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cicero View Post
The following is a quotation from the philosopher Frank Jackson, regarding his thought experiment to demonstrate the existence of "qualia."


This is one of the big questions of contemporary philosophy. I would like to get the thoughts of the forum and discuss it. Did Mary learn something new? Is there, perhaps, a flaw in the thought experiment itself?
Why is this a "thought experiment" when we can already "see" beyond the visible color spectrum with xrays and night vision glasses.

We can't "see" planets around other stars but we have used other methods to detect their presence.

Ok, enough with the rational scientific facts since your question is actually a philosophical one about "qualia".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia

The problem is that there is no agreed upon single definitive definition of qualia by philosophers themselves so the thought experiment above is moot. It is just the means by which one philosopher is using to define his own interpretation of the term qualia.

So to answer your two questions then yes, Mary did learn something new and yes, there is a flaw because the premise of the qualia hypothesis has not been properly defined so as to to render a result from the "thought experiment" that would either prove or disprove the qualia hypothesis.

That is my opinion and it is worth exactly what you just paid for it! Thanks for posing it since it gave me the opportunity to use my soap box again.

FTR Cicero is my favorite philosopher.
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Old February 5th, 2017, 05:50 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Derideo Te View Post

The problem is that there is no agreed upon single definitive definition of qualia
Aufgeblassen to the rescue!

quale

[kwah-lee, -ley, kwey-]

noun, plural qualia [kwah-lee-uh, kwey-] (Show IPA). Philosophy.

1. a quality, as bitterness, regarded as an independent object.

2. a sense-datum or feeling having a distinctive quality.

But IMHO, it DOES indeed seem like a made-up, non-sensicle word & definition. I hope that helps.
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