[ExI] Mary passes the test.

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 11 15:10:29 UTC 2010

--- On Wed, 2/10/10, Will Steinberg <steinberg.will at gmail.com> wrote:

> "Mary the Color Scientist" is
> often used as an iron defense of the magicalness or platonic
> reality of qualia.  To some, it is enough to say that Mary
> learns something COMPLETELY new about the color red when she
> sees it, giving the sense that, even for all fact and
> physicality, something is missing until Mary sees that
> color.  Why is this thesis so readily expected?  I think
> that qualia, however weird or outside of normal fact, is, at
> heart, inextricable from those facts.  For example:
> Upon emerging from her room, The Scientists present Mary
> with two large colored squares.  One is red, and one is blue.  I
> wholeheartedly believe Mary will be able to tell which one is red.  
> When asked why, Mary says "I had a feeling that's what it would
> look like."
> I would say that Mary, after learning about red and its
> neural pathways and physical properties, is able to form
> some conception of the color in her mind's eye,
> regardless of whether it has been presented to her, because
> red is "in there" somewhere.  

This is very interesting, Will. Most curious to me is that you seem to want to refute a supposed argument for what you call the "platonic reality of quaila", but you do so with an argument that Plato himself would likely agree with. Plato taught that we never learn anything important that we don't already in some sense know, just as Mary in your story in some sense knows the color of red before seeing it.

The Greek word for "truth" is "aletheia" which one can translate literally as "un-forgetting" or "remembering".



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