Thursday, October 7, 2010

Curiosity and qualia

The standard objection to Jackson's Mary argument (in a monochromatic room she learns all that science can offer, but then she comes out into the larger world and learns what's like to see red—so what science can offer does not exhaust reality, since if it did, one couldn't learn anything more if one knew all that science can offer) is that "knowing what an experience is like" uses "knows" in a sense different from that in sentences like "Bill knows who won the World Series in 1973".

Here is a response. The object of curiosity is knowledge. But curiosity can both make one try to find out who won the World Series in 1973 (or some other bit of trivia) and make one try to find out what it's like to be stung by a scorpion (here you can substitute a whole host of things). Both are paradigmatically the sort of silly things that curiosity makes people want to find out. Thus if we are equivocating on "knows", we are either equivocating on "curiosity" or curiosity has a disjunctive object. The latter seems implausible. And it really seems like when we are talking of "curiosity" in the World Series and scorpion cases, we're talking about the same thing.

No comments: