Why is redness red? Why not?
If our brains are to represent the frequency spectrum of light reflected from an object, how can it be done? Would it be better for our survival if objects had numeric frequencies superimposed on them? Would some other representation make it easier to tell if the fruit was ripe or the snake was poisonous? Why not colours? Would some other representation make it easier to remember and recall a place or object? Is there a better way to represent the frequency of air pressure waves then what we call sound?
The qualia that we experience are the forms of the model of reality that our brains create. No doubt the forms that our brains use have evolved to provide the ability to quickly and accurately discriminate between objects and events. And if this is the case, it seems to me that we would probably share the basic nature of qualia with other vertebrates, although details would differ. It certainly seems probably to me that we would share qualia with other humans. When someone asks how we know that my red is the same as your red, the answer is we don’t know; but the best guess by far is that they are the same or similar. Otherwise, we would have to explain how and why they differ. As far as I know, there is no evidence that they differ and no evidence that our sensation of red is developed in response to environmental factors. There is also no evidence (so far at least – and – to my knowledge) that our brain architecture differs in this respect from individual to individual. Why would your short wave length retinal cones follow or produce different development signals then mine do? Obviously the cells are going to follow the same biochemical programs during the development of the brain in you and in me. When this does not happen, the result is learning disabilities and other problem conditions.
I’ve just been reading a ’97 paper by Ramachandran and Hirstein. They place the conscious experience with its qualia in the temporal lobe. They also give three laws of qualia and discuss the relationship between qualia and the experience of ‘self’. If you are at all interested in this subject, the paper is a must to read.