International Journal of
Psychology and Counselling

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Psychol. Couns.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2499
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 213

Full Length Research Paper

The problem of qualia

R. T. Oyelakin
Department of Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 16 March 2009
  •  Published: 30 April 2009



The paper intends to research into the mind-body problem and examine an aspect of the current issue in the debate. An attempt to solve the mind/body problem has moved to the examination of the nature and property of consciousness. It is hoped that sufficient study and understanding of the nature and characteristics of consciousness could suffice for the solution to the age-old problem. This has generated series of arguments between the physicalists such as Paul and Patricia Churchland and the anti-physicalists such as Frank Jackson, about the possibility of the complete empirical explanation and reduction of the nature and property of the subjective aspect of consciousness. The former argue for the possibilities of the project while the latter dissent. That which would be left unexplained and unreduced is termed ‘qualia’ or the phenomenal experience. The paper intends to examine some of the arguments on both sides and conclude that though much objective nature of consciousness could be explained, the phenomenal aspect of consciousness is going to be left unexplained and so unreduced by the physicalists. I will, in this respect, argue that the understanding of the nature of the phenomenal aspect of consciousness may assist some experts dealing with mental illnesses to tackle the problem of mental disorderliness in our society.


Key words: Qualia, phenomenal experience, what it is to see red, raw feels, physicalists, anti-physicalists.