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Qualia, Quality of Awareness

Updated: May 5, 2020

Qualia is "an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us". Daniel Dennett

So, why Qualia?

“Qualia dazzled me because it is the way we perceive the instant without the intrusion of judgement; it is the awareness of the presence.”

Qualia, Quality of Awareness

Qualia comes from the Latin and it is the plural of quale: “of what sort” or “of what kind” in an specific instance. In philosophy, Qualia is a sensation, emotion, or experience translated by the senses to the mind, or it could be said that Qualia is a tangible and personal subjective elucidation of what was lived. Experiences of all kind differ themselves by the character of the experience per se, or by the person living through them. Each individual is somehow immediately aware of a range of phenomenal qualities such as the color, shape, feeling of touch, the taste and/or odor if that is the case, it could go even further to recall associations, memories or create insights.

Also defined as “raw-feels” or a “qualitative character of experience”, Qualia have some properties that might help us recognize our conscious state. Those are: ineffable, intrinsic, private, and directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness. As an intent to explain this, there is an aclaratory note to be kept in mind, Qualia “seems to be the sort of things which just have to fall outside the reach of language.” That is the ineffable property of Qualia, meaning the description of what is like to have an experience, won’t give you the experience itself. Language seems to be a barrier. So it will guide us to the privacy of Qualia being the direct experience the only route to them, although accompanied by an specific point of view. The intrinsicity is given through the fact that, being related to a sense, a quale can be isolated and become independent of other senses and or mental states. On the act of biting a juicy mango, there is no judgement; just the sensation of the flesh and its taste, the temperature on your hands so as its texture, and the juice running down your arm; the yellow color and its aroma. Each one of them set up a quale, all together establish qualia. Finally, the conscious apprehension is related with time and its immediacy because the present moment is the only time Qualia exist.

Of course, experiences will always differ; each will be qualitatively distinct. There is a variable: the potential of improving our sensitivity, consequently the deepness or subtleness in which we are capable to go through an event. There is no space for is/seems judgement or discernment because we are just capturing “our reality” through the senses, or Qualia.



  • Dennett, D. (1988) “Quining Qualia” in Marcel and Bisiach (eds), Consciousness in Contemporary Science, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • De Leon, D. (n.d.). The Qualities of Qualia. Lund University Cognitive Science Kungshuset, Lundagård, S–222 22 Lund, Sweden.

  • Gil, J. R. (2019, November 1). Definición de "Los qualia". Retrieved from

  • Qualia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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