Qualia have physical effects and are physical phenomena
First, let’s be clear what qualia are. Qualia that we are talking about here are phenomena that we can be consciously aware of and can consciously experience, such as the vision of the red color, the sound of the note C, the smell of the rose, the happy emotion, and the thought of a past event. That we are consciously aware of and consciously experience qualia means that we have awareness and experiences of what the qualia are like occurring in our mind. For example, for the qualia just mentioned, we have awareness and experiences of what the vision the red color is like, what the sound of note C is like, what the smell of the rose is like, and so on occurring in our mind. This is different from phenomena that we cannot consciously aware of and cannot consciously experience. Such phenomena are phenomena that occur subconsciously or unconsciously, such as perceptions of blood levels of electrolytes, oxygen/carbon dioxide, hormones, various nutrients, various waste products, etc. Although we are subconsciously or unconsciously aware of them and respond to them appropriately all the time, we do not have awareness and experiences of what they are like, i.e., what the perceptions of those blood levels are like.
Now, because we can be consciously aware of and experience what qualia are like, qualia must induce the occurrence of conscious awareness and conscious experiences in the brain. But conscious awareness and conscious experiences in the brain need functions of some neural circuits for them to happen, they cannot just occur in the brain by themselves. Therefore, because neural circuit functions are physical functions, qualia must have physical effects, at least by inducing these physical functions to occur. What’s more, we can think, talk, and write about qualia, can memorize and recall them, and can have conferences and do experiments on them – even you, the reader, are reading this article about them and studying them. Therefore, because all these activities are physical activities and they occur because of or are affected by qualia, qualia must have physical effects; otherwise, all these physical activities would not have occurred or affected.
Additionally, qualia are predictably affected by physical interventions, and their changes conform to physical laws. For example, visual, auditory, olfactory, emotion, and thinking qualia are predictably affected by physical interventions, such as mechanical impact, electrical/magnetic stimulation, and pharmacologic administration, to neural circuits that are associated with visual, auditory, olfactory, emotion, and thinking qualia – for instance, we can predict and verify when a visual quale will appear, change, or disappear by observing and manipulating various visual areas in the brain, and we can predict how it will change after we deliver physical interventions to those visual areas.
If qualia have physical effects, qualia must be physical entities, obeying physical rules, because there is no evidence that any physical effects can occur outside physical laws. And the fact that qualia are predictably affected by physical interventions confirms that qualia are indeed physical entities.
What are the physical effects of qualia?
At present, there is no conclusive evidence for what the physical effects of qualia are. But as qualia are physical phenomena that occur in the brain and as any physical phenomena that occur in the brain require resources in creating, maintaining, and processing the phenomena and may have some negative effects, if their overall effects do not help increase the survival chance of the animals that have the phenomena, those animals and the phenomena will likely become extinct in the evolutionary process. This is especially true for major phenomena in a critical organ as in the case of qualia in the brain. The fact that qualia still exist today indicates that they have been selected to remain in the evolutionary process. This means that their overall effects must help increase the survival chance of the species that have them. Qualia, in the form that they are – phenomenal qualia or qualia that appear phenomenally in our mind – thus are evolved phenomena to help increase the survival chance of the species, including humans, that have them.
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