Qualia

Do you know what Qualia means? I remember when I first stumbled upon the phrase I hadn’t a clue of its meaning, and even upon researching it further, I found it as a concept, almost intangible and too abstract to directly comprehend. Over the years I like to think I’ve established an idea of what it is exactly that qualia is.

As a base definition, qualia basically means “how something seems to us.” The most common example that is used to explain this concept is the perception of colour, which I have mentioned in a previous post.  The colour red can instill a wide variety of emotional responses in a viewer. The essence that would set your conscious experience of an event apart from others could be described as qualia. The aspects, or perspectives of life that are unique to you. Everyone will have a unique response to stimuli, the severity and prevalence of the uniqueness of that response will obviously vary throughout cultures and among them.  The internal psychological responses to external stimuli.

I have found through observations, the emotional responses exhibited by individuals can vary drastically. Throughout the course of ones life, I’d argue just about every conscious experience can contribute to ones overall outlook. It all adds up as some form of mental conditioning. Even free will itself could be argued, saying that everything we do is just a response to external stimuli, and the mental or emotional reasoning behind the response being qualia.

When I try to talk to people about the environment, when I try to get people actively involved in making a difference in this ecological system we are a part of, a vast majority of the people I interact with, fail to exhibit optimal emotional responses. They have no desire to engage in these mindsets, they’re content with their perspective, there’s no drive to embrace mine or others, apathy. They take opinions at face value and don’t develop them any further. Planting a seed of knowledge will not produce a plant of wisdom without a sufficient supply of sustenance, the light of thought and contemplation, without this food of thought, ideas whither and die.

We live in a world of substantial development. We have nations with deeply entrenched ideologies and ways of life. There is profound disagreement among the countless views we all share on Earth, conflicts of unimaginable meaning. I feel like there is no standardized sense of morality among humans, we do not seem to retain a paramount ideal, total truth or ultimate law, an ideal with which we can all relate. There are certain laws and ideals with which all humans can relate, but the merit we associate to these social values is not intrinsic. It is entirely dependent on the psychological and social integrity of the interpreter.

The reason I’m highlighting the lack of uniformity among Human perspective is because one week ago officials from 120 nations, one hundred and twenty individual nations, met together in Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+ 20 to discuss the future sustainability of the planet. The horrifying point being, these elected officials couldn’t come to a uniform agreement on a single issue brought before the summit. Not a one.

A lack of human cooperation is not something new, we are stubborn creatures. It’s easy to argue that we cooperate a lot more than we did thousands of years ago, but we still have a long way to go if we are hoping to get anywhere meaningful in the next hundred years. The next time someone does something you don’t agree with, perhaps the optimal course of action is not changing your ways to suit theirs, or even changing their ways to suit yours. There needs to be a mutual understanding of reasoning, we need to understand why we do what we do if we are to have any hope of agreeing on a long term course of action.

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