A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

Qualia or Given

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on April 15, 2006

Qualia and Given. Those are two words I’ve used in the posts so far, to refer to the same thing. Something which was distinguished vs. abstract. However because both words have history of philosophical usage, I will try to explain on example what I mean by them in order to avoid misunderstandings.

two greens

Look at this picture. Both circles have green color, but the colors are not same. Why is that? Because “being colors“, and “being green“… the two abstractions that can cover one part of what we see on the picture, merely determine each of colors of the circles as abstractions from the whole situation. But we don’t see the abstracts qua abstracts, nor is the situation some configuration of abstracts – we see the concrete which is determined as abstract.
First we have as concrete which is given the whole situation, then we can abstract each of the circles, and we can abstract the color of each of the circles, and we determine it as abstract green.

That’s why it is possible two greens to be different, even the two colors are covered by same abstract, they are not in our perceptions qua abstractions.

We don’t look at the one color, and put it under an abstract, and then look at the other and put it under other abstract, and then somehow mechanically compare if the both colors are the same abstract. That is something that color expert might do. He can look at the upper circle and say it is scarab green, and then look at the bottom circle, and say it is spring green. The expert who can do that, who has more precise abstractions which cover only one type of green but not other, can do that even if the colors are not close to one another. He might look at one of the circles today, and look at the other one tommorow, and conclude that they were not the same color.

But to non-expert who doesn’t have those precise abstractions the difference appears in the concreteness of the given.

Of course one needs to focus on the issue if the colors are same. For example, one might fail to put his attention to the difference, he might not notice that two greens are different. But that wouldn’t mean that there is no given there, it would be same starting given, but on which different abstractions are done. If he would’ve used same abstractions, he would’ve been given same resulting givens.

The result of one abstraction as given, should not to be taken as some kind of part of the experience in such way that one could create the whole experience from those parts.


One Response to “Qualia or Given”

  1. UPDATE:This difference between colors, and their transcending time and space, are what opens the possibility for developing abstractions (learning colors).

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