Commentary on Jakab's Ineffability of Qualia

Metzinger, Thomas (2000) Commentary on Jakab's Ineffability of Qualia. Consciousness and Cognition, 7.

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Abstract

Zoltan Jakab has presented an interesting conceptual analysis of the ineffability of qualia in a functionalist and classical cognitivist framework. But he does not want to commit himself to a certain metaphysical thesis on the ontology of consciousness or qualia. We believe that his strategy has yielded a number of highly relevant and interesting insights, but still suffers from some minor inconsistencies and a certain lack of phenomenological and empirical plausibility. This may be due to some background assumptions relating to the theory of mental representation employed. Jakab's starting assumption is that there is no linguistic description of a given experience such that understanding the description would result in someone who has never had the experience being described undergoing an experience of that type. (In terms of the well-known Mary case: No description could reveal what colors are like to Mary.) This is what Jakab means by the ineffability of qualia. And this is Jakab's explanation: Understanding in the standard sense involves our linguistic- conceptual abilities; but our linguistic-conceptual abilities are notinvolved in undergoing simple sensory experiences; so they cannot deliver knowledge by acquaintance, which means linguistic descriptions of sensory experiences cannot result in someone who understands the description undergoing the experience being described. (We do not agree with the assumption that our linguistic-conceptual abilities are not at all involved in undergoing simple sensory experiences; such processes can be involved in undergoing simple sensory experiences, but they need not be the only thinginvolved in undergoing simple sensory experiences; in undergoing simple sensory experiences something else is involved which cannot be captured by descriptions. The crucial point is that descriptions do not give us knowledge by acquaintance.)

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Qualia, Funktionalismus
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Bewußtseinsphilosophie, Philosophie des Geistes und der Psychologie
Depositing User: Sissi Kemp
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2002
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2011 18:50
URI: http://sammelpunkt.philo.at/id/eprint/268

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