Imagine a tutor who specializes in teaching children about color. He’s a materialist, named…Steve. He knows all that is known about color. He knows the physics, the optics, the chemistry, the neurobiology, everything. A family retains him to teach their child, a prodigy, all that can be known about color.That's a tough question all right. But it's only one of many difficult questions of this type. Here are some others that Michael Egnor might want to ponder.
Tudor Steve goes to work. He teaches the little genius about quantum mechanics with relevant application of string theory to flesh out the more subtle issues, then goes on to teach the precocious child chemistry, optics, neurobiology, all of the material and physical facts about color. The child excels in color class in school, acing all of the exams on the physics and the chemistry and the neurobiology.
Then, one day, the boy confides in tutor Steve: the child is color-blind. He has learned all of the physical facts about color, but he has no idea what color looks like. He knows that tutor Steve is a materialist, so he assumes that all there is to know about color can be explained from a materialistic standpoint, including what color looks like. That’s why the child’s parents hired Steve the materialistic color tutor.
So the boy asks tutor Steve:
"Please explain to me what color looks like."
Materialist color tutor Steve has a dilemma. Material facts about color can, of course, be taught. But can ‘what it is like to see color,’ the subjective experience of color, be taught? If it can’t, then there is knowledge of color that is not material knowledge. Therefore materialism cannot completely explain the subjective experience (the qualia) of color. Therefore subjective experience is something in addition to matter. And therefore dualism is necessary to explain the mind.
How would materialist tutor Steve explain what color looks like to a person who is color blind?
- How do you explain intelligence to someone who is stupid?
- How do you explain what it's like to be abducted by UFO's if you've never been kidnapped by aliens?
- How does a bat explain echolocation to a human?
- How do you explain astrology to someone who doesn't know their birthday?
- How do you explain love, or anger, to someone who has never been angry or in love?
- How do you explain homeopathy to someone who has never been cured by drinking water?
- How do you explain Canada to someone who has never been there?
- Where are the weapons of mass destruction?
- Does Michael Egnor exist?