Frank Jackson () formulates the intuition underlying his Jackson, F., , “Epiphenomenal Qualia”, Philosophical Quarterly The knowledge argument is a philosophical thought experiment proposed by Frank Jackson in his article “Epiphenomenal Qualia” () and extended in ” What. Jackson opens his essay with a definition: “It is undeniable that the physical, chemical and biological sciences have provided a great deal of information about .

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Mary the neuroscientist 1. This page was last edited on 18 Decemberat It is sometimes objected that already accepted or future jacksno of visual science are or might be incompatible with the existence of a Mary-case a person with monochromatic experience who becomes a normal color perceiver later or that such results might require to preserve consistence with visual science the introduction of so many additional assumptions that the conceivability of the example becomes doubtful.

Therefore, what she obtained is a discovery of new abilities rather than new facts; her discovery of what it is like to experience color consists merely in her gaining new ability of how to do certain things, but not gaining new factual knowledge. Jackson argues that knowledge about qualia is impossible if qualia are epiphenomenal and he concludes that something must be wrong with the knowledge argument. To show that ability is not necessary, Conee cites the example of someone who is able to see colors when she is looking at them, but who lacks the capacity to imagine colors when she is not.

Some have argued that the phenomenal conceptualization is not expressible in language see Byrne and Hellie She thus has acquired a new concept of phenomenal blueness.

Knowledge argument

Martha, “who is highly skilled at visualizing an intermediate shade kackson she has not experienced between pairs of shades that she has experienced In order to show precisely that imaginative abilities are not sufficient for knowing what it is like, Conee introduces the following example: Note that the Ability Hypothesis is compatible with the view that uqalia do sometimes acquire propositional knowledge on the basis of getting acquainted with a new kind of experience from the first person perspective.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He aims to reinforce this line of objection by appealing to the different locations in which each type of knowledge is represented in the brain, arguing that there is a true, demonstratively physical distinction between them. Rather, or so one may argue, Mary and Marianna acquire a epiphenomena kind of belief that the sky appears blue to normal perceivers, namely the epiphenomehal belief that it appears blue to normal perceivers, where phenomenal belief involves the application of the appropriate phenomenal concept.


Papineau distinguishes third person and first person thoughts about experiences. This, however, does not yet license any further conclusions about the nature of the experiences that these discursively unlearnable facts are about.

White develops the objection in detail. With this, Martha has the ability to imagine cherry red if she so chooses, but as long as she does not exercise this ability, to imagine cherry red, she does not know what it is like to see cherry red. Once these two steps are clearly distinguished one may conclude that Marianna’s relevant epistemic progress at t 3 and Mary’s relevant progress after release is not happily described by talk of knowing what it’s like.

But she still lacks the relevant items of knowledge about what other people experience: Jackson seems to find the modal argument against physicalism less persuasive than the knowledge argument 1. As long as two qualia names Q and R refer to the same quale, replacing Q by R in an ascription of phenomenal belief cannot change the truth value of the belief ascription.

We believe we’ve learned the answer from a colorblind synesthete subject. V3 Explicit formulation of the knowledge argument stronger version: For him the sensation of qualia and the rejection of Physicalism is an intuition. First, if Mary does learn something new, it shows that qualia the subjective, qualitative properties of experiences, conceived as wholly spiphenomenal of behavior and disposition exist.

The recognitional concept of blueness refers directly to its referent the physical property of blueness where this means in Loar’s terminology: If Mary gains something after she leaves the room—if she acquires knowledge of a particular thing that she did not possess before—then that knowledge, Jackson argues, is knowledge of the qualia of seeing red.

Like Mary, Marianna first at t 1 lives in a black and white environment. It is sometimes pointed out, for example, that merely confining Mary epi;henomenal a monochromatic environment would not prevent her from having color experiences see Thompsonquwlia that, after release, she would not be able to see colors.


The following remarks by Levin are hard to deny: Much like the theoretical Mary, our colorblind synesthete volunteer cannot see certain hues, because of deficient color receptors. Due to his dissatisfaction with the ability hypothesis, Earl Conee presents another variant.

Jackson has us imagine this person Fred who is able to discriminate two different colors of perfectly ripe tomatoes, which he calls red 1 and red 2.

Qualia: The Knowledge Argument

We know about other minds because we observe physical behaviour. But it is not clear that the claim, if correct, would undermine the knowledge argument. Jackson argued that if both of these theses are true, then epiphenomenalism is true—the view that mental states are caused by physical states, but have no causal effects on the physical world. Block gives a detailed answer to White based on a distinction between what he labels cognitive and metaphysical modes of presentation.

Although he finds this a perfectly good argument, he realizes that it will not persuade everyone. Give her a precise description in the notation of neurophysiology of a colour vision state, and she will very likely be able to imagine what such a state would be like.

Volker Gadenne – – Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 He argues that while staring at something that looks red to her, she would have knowledge of what it is like to see red, even though she lacks the ability to imagine what it is like. Indeed, if physicalism were true, there would be no need to extrapolate from our experience or imagine how Fred experiences colors, because we’d already know q.

Epiphenomenal Qualia

Australasian Journal of Philosophy The Ability Hypothesis should be preferred. FeiglT. She knows everything there is to know quaalia the subject.

It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. Let Q be such a property.