Read another response by Eddy Nahmias
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I recently read an article by a philosopher who stated that physicalism must be false or at least incomplete because it doesn't adequately account for experience. For example, say you knew all the physical information involved in seeing a sunset, even if you convey all that information to a person you'll never actually describe a sunset. Say you know a blind woman (since birth) and she asks you "what's it like to experience a sunset?", do you go off saying well it's a wavelength hitting the photoreceptors in your eyes which send electrical signals to your brain, even if that's true she's still no closer to understanding what experiencing a sunset is like. The point being that you can't reduce experience (or qualia) down to purely physical information. Personally I agree that it's impossible to describe experience with just physical information, even with something as simple as the smell of an orange, you can only communicate a description of what the smell of orange smells like tautologically, i.e. "it smells like an orange". (or something something incredibly close-smelling to an orange.) I suppose my question is, is physicalism false because experiences can't be described with purely physical information? How important is describing experiences in philosophies of mind any way? I mean if experiences really are caused by physical processes, does it matter whether we can or can't fully describe the experience with that information?