Consciousness and the Introspection of ‘Qualitative Simples’

  • Paul M. ChurchlandEmail author
Part of the Studies in Brain and Mind book series (SIBM, volume 6)


Philosophers have long been familiar with the contrast between predicates or concepts that denote or express “qualitative simples,” as opposed to predicates or concepts that denote or express “structural, relational, causal, or functional” features. The tendency has been to think of these two classes of properties as being ontologically quite different from each other. Paradigm examples of the former would be features such as the redness of a tomato, the sweetness of sugar, the low pitch of a sound, and the warmth of a hearth. These particular examples, all features of things in the objective physical world, would be joined by a further population of presumed qualitative simples, features displayed in the conscious states of a human or other cognitive creature, features such as the qualitative character of your visual sensation of a tomato, of your gustatory sensation of a sugar cube, of your auditory sensation of a sound, and of your tactile sensation of a glowing hearth. Indeed, some may want to insist that the features displayed in this private cognitive domain are the only genuinely simple qualitative features, on grounds that their external brethren all turn out to admit of a structural, relational, causal, or functional analysis of some kind after all.


Qualitative Feature Qualitative Character Folk Psychology Bodily Configuration Explanatory Virtue 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUCSDLa JollaUSA

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