The rough idea is something like this. An infant is born with the qualia of force. This set of feelings correlates with the infants movements. For example, a force quale occurs when the infant’s motor cortex sends a train of action potentials that result in movement of the infant’s right arm. On some occasions, movement of the arm causes the arm to hit an object, perhaps a hanging crib toy, which makes the object move. This is the germ of the infant’s concept of both force and causality. Later the infant generalizes the notion of force and causality when external objects collide or interact (Hume’s pool balls).
There are two central ideas:
- The infant has an inner feeling, or qualia of force that correlates with its self-generated physical movements.
- The qualia of force is the germ of the intuitive notion of physics and causality. The qualia of force, force, physics and causality are inherently linked.
If this notion is true, there are many downstream connections. For example, free will. How does the infant gain control of its force qualia, that is, how does the infant gain a sense control over voluntary movement?
Update March 24 2014: @mambo_bab_e made an interesting comment via twitter. “I understand it [qualia of force—jk], but it does not seem qualia was necessary for the story”. This is a difficult issue. The comment almost has to be true; no one, to my knowledge, has identified a function for qualia that can’t be covered by “stimulus” or “identifiable stimulus”. On the other hand, I think “qualia of force” is a much better prototype of qualia than the much more common “red”. The internal feeling during motor action is strong and distinctive; it has a real feel to it. “Red”?, eh. My guess is that the essence of all qualia is that they have one or several dimensions such as hedonic value, force/effort. Hedonic value may be divided into separate dimensions corresponding to motivational systems (hunger, lust, thirst). The rough idea is that qualia relate external stimuli to body state.*
A second consideration is “imagined force”. My guess is that all qualia can be induced by real stimuli or imagined stimuli. The permits two things: hypothetical behavior which leads to efficient behavior; and the ability to generalize the qualia to agents other than the self. Thus the infant can say “I feel a force when I push the ball; the large ball feels a force when it pushes the small ball”.
I doubt if this fully answers mambo_bab_e’s question. Supplying a convincing argument for the value of qualia would be an achievement. Perhaps these are stepping stones.
*I think this corresponds to Damassio’s sense of qualia; I’ll have to check.