Materialism is the belief that all things can be explained in physical terms or by science. Frank Jackson argues against this belief. Jackson’s philosophy is that not only are materialism false, but he also claims that consciousness is a subjective experience that can not be defined by any physical term or by science. The nonphysical experience known as qualia is Jackson’s explanation of consciousness. Qualia is the nonphysical feeling that can not be explained in physical terms or by science. Humans can not understand the feeling of qualia without experiencing it themselves.
Materialism suggests that everything that occurs have some type of scientific relationship or physical term. Jackson goes through his argument looking for proof until he gets one idea. Jackson performs an experiment that demonstrates that consciousness is a qualia feeling and that one can not understand or learn the feeling with out experiencing it. The subject he uses is Mary. Mary is an extremely bright scientist and since she could remember she was placed in a room with nothing but black and white. With limiting her sight to only this black and white gray-scale, she is unaware of what true color looks like. All her life she is educated through newspapers, television and teachers giving lectures. Near the end of the experiment she has mastered every aspect of the physical terms and science explaining the process of viewing color. One example was that she knew that an apple was red, but she cannot grasp the concept if she has never seen it. The final part of the experiment is to present to her real color. They use a red apple to demonstrate this.
The hypothesis for the experiment follows the laws of materialism. They hypothesized that Mary would not have a shocking reaction to the apple. They believed that she would know that the apple carried those characteristics. In the conclusion of the experiment they find out that their hypothesis was wrong and that Mary was shocked to find out what red really looked like. For the first time in her life she noticed that there was more to the red apple than the physical description. She felt qualia, the feeling of actually seeing the color. This proves that materialism cannot fully explain the world. The problem with materialism is that it leaves out subjective experiences and cannot explain them.
The three steps that prove Jackson’s point are: 1. Mary is taught everything about the physical facts of color vision.
2. Mary does not know all of the facts about color qualia.
3. So, the facts of color qualia are not physical facts.
Jackson’s experimentation revealed that the world, even though it is made up of physical things, it has the qualia in everyday life happenings. Jackson explains that consciousness is not a part of materialism, but rather the qualia one feels in everyday life.