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Physicalism Essay

1675 words - 7 pages

Physicalism is the philosophical position, which states that everything is placed under the limits of its physical properties, and that there is nothing other than physical things. The knowledge argument is said to be one of the biggest challenges to physicalism, which holds that the world is entirely physical. It was first introduced in 1982 by Frank Jackson, who no longer supports it but is still said to be one of the most important arguments in the philosophy of mind. Frank Jackson establishes the knowledge argument by using two different though experiments; Epiphenomenal Qualia and What Mary Doesn’t know. Both of these experiments are meant to prove that our own conscious experience differs from those who around us. This is done throughout the articles by showing that it is possible for you to have a physical description of an object without actually have the complete knowledge needed and thus proving that there are non-physical facts. The idea behind the knowledge argument is that an individual can have all the physical knowledge needed about another conscious but still be have incomplete knowledge about how it may feel to have the experiences of that particular thing. Through the examination of Daniel Dennett, David Lewis, and Paul Churchland it is evident that the knowledge argument rejects physicalism.
Fred in Frank Jackson’s article Epiphenomenal Qualia is an individual who can see things that most people cant, where most of us see one specific single color, Fred can pick out two separate colors; red1 and red2. Fred further explains that the difference between red1 and red2 is as extreme as yellow is to blue for most of us. Fred confirms his beliefs by sorting out ripe tomatoes into 2 categories, which to us look the exact, similar but to him look like distinct colors. Its obvious to say that we are color blind in regards to what red1 and red2 look like. We may never know what Fred really sees in regards to the distinct colors unless we were to receive a partial brain transplant which would give us direct experience to Fred’s thoughts. Jackson proposes the question “what kind of experience doe Fred have when he sees red1 and red2?” Fred can try his hardest to help explain the color difference that he sees tin the ripe tomatoes, however it is impossible to do so as we cant experience what he sees and thinks.
Mary in What Mary Didn’t Know is the second and more popular example to the knowledge argument. Mary is imprisoned in a black and white room with no color around her eye sight. She is said to be to a brilliant scientists who learns all there is to know about colors and neurophysiology of vision which is the way we see color; all the physical facts, but has never herself seen colors. Frank Jackson in his knowledge argument states that if we assume that Mary has all of the physical facts about color vision, then she has all the facts she needs to know about color vision. However, Mary learns new things once she leaves her black...

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