The the correct frequency freehold triggers ‘red-channel activation’.

The knowledge argument is an argument designed with the aim of invalidating physicalism by showing that full
knowledge of the physical properties of a person does not mean that you know everything about that person and
therefore there are things which cannot be explained with physicalism. It’s thought that the argument originated
from C.D. Broad, where he argues that an archangel could fully understand everything about the chemical ammonia,
including how it affected the nose in a human, yet, the angel couldn’t know what it smells like. This argument was
modified by Frank Jackson in 1982, who produced a thought experiment about a neuroscientist, Mary. She is a
very gifted scientist and knows every single part of the physical process of human colour vision. Due to a strange
upbringing (maybe her mum was a philosopher and decided to implement one of these mad thought experiments),
she had never seen a colour other than black and white. One day, she is allowed to leave her monochromatic prison
and she sees colour for the first time. Has she learnt anything? It seems that she had, even though she knew all
the physical information about the process of seeing. Does this mean that there is a form knowledge that cannot be
explained with physicalism.
1 The Physicalist Response
Firstly, it would be helpful to formalise the argument:
(i) Mary has all physical knowledge about human colour vision ? she knows all physical facts about human colour
(ii) Mary cannot know what the colour  looks like having never seen it ? there are facts about colour vision she
cannot know.
(iii) From (i) and (ii): There are non physical facts about colour vision.
The first source of counter argument I shall look at is from Owen Flanagan. Owen Flanagan, though not in direct
response to Jackson provides a counter argument to point (i) with more physicalism. He argues that Mary cannot
know everything about colour vision without actually seeing the colours, saying that the phenomenal state of seeing
red is a physical event whereby light in the correct frequency freehold triggers ‘red-channel activation’. Without the
presence of a red object, there is no causal event that could activate that area of the brain. Know physical knowledge
could activate this because knowledge of the sort that Jackson is referring to is purely linguistic. There is no way of
stimulating I, however, don’t think that this is really a problem with the argument. The argument is not concerned
with experience, it is concerned with the ability to fully explain experience through physics alone. Flanagan has
surly reinforced the argument by explaining the process of seeing red colour, yet giving no physical explanation that
Mary could use to see a red object after her escape and know it was red without asking. I would also like to point
out that she was in a black and white room. White is the superposition of all wavelengths of visible light and
therefore contains red. The biological process of red-channel activation must have been triggered, yet, she will have
no knowledge of what red looks like. This surly leads you to conclude that there is a non physical aspect to vision,
if the experience doesn’t follow from the stimulus.
Flanagan also argued that there is a distinction between linguistic physics and complete physics, arguing that
although physics can explain the system behind phenomenal states, it cannot be used to express that state so that
it can be understood phenomenally. Language is learnt through association of sounds or shapes with concepts, for
example, if I were to say red, I am hoping to trigger the concept in your mind that you have associated the word
‘red’ with. If you have no such concept you must therefore have no such association and I have no way of planting
those in your head. You may have a great grasp of mathematics and physics, and me saying ‘red’ summons your
knowledge of red’s properties, but I cannot implant an experience. Jackson rejected that this, saying that such a
division couldn’t be made in physicalism, only when in opposition. If knowledge is purely physical, it would be stored
in the brain. Where one piece of knowledge begins, and another ends would surely be impossible to identify, so then
trying to claim that there are two different types of knowledge, stored on the same medium, in the same way, is surly
mad. And if there are two types, how do they communicate with each other? How can I see a colours object (a
phenomenal experience) and know how to lift it (complete physical knowledge) if the two types are not compatible?
And if they are compatible, why can’t I use one to infer about the other?
Another attack on Jackson is an attack on (ii). Nemirow and Lewis argued that she does know everything about
human colour vision because it is a purely physical process, but, what she doesn’t know is what it is like to experience
colour vision.
The Ability Hypothesis says that knowing what an experience is like just is the possession of these
abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize. It isn’t knowing-that. It’s knowing-how.
– Lewis 1990, 516
Lewis then argues that the only alternative to the Ability Hypothesis is the Hypothesis of Phenomenal Information –
where the knowledge gained from seeing a colour is in a purely phenomenal form – but this hypothesis is incompatible
with physicalism. Surly if you can find an explanation that is equivalent, but also compatible with physicalism, it
is better because then the we answer the question and have the evidence that physicalism brings with it. But
compatible doesn’t mean right.
David Papineau took a completely different response. He, a physicalist, agreed with Jackson’s argument but
concludes something else. He claims that the knowledge argument is a fantastic way of distinguishing between
different phenomenal concepts. But he states that the difference between phenomenal and material concepts is a
different level of sense, not reference. They refer to the same thing through different means. What we really mean
when we experience things, it’s not really a phenomenal state, but really the concepts that we use to understand
them that seem phenomenal. She may know everything physical about human vision, but she doesn’t possess the
ability to assign the concept of red to the experience of red. The concept is knowledge that she had after all her
physical study, but the assignment (a purely physical, biological process), of that concept to the stimulus cannot be
done without the presence of that stimulus. Now, you can say that this isn’t an acquisition of knowledge, so she
hasn’t learnt anything new or if she has learnt anything new, there is a physicalist explanation that breaks (i).
Nother responce is called the New knowledge/Old Fact view. This is the views that Mary’s new knowledge
2 My Own Speculation
But I wonder if there is a deeper issue with the conclusion. I would question weather you can know what a colour
looks like. Patches of colour are merely photons wiggling at different speeds. You don’t see that, so are you justified
in saying that you know what red looks like? You could say, “Well, I know what red looks like to me” But now we
have transgressed past what Mary could ever possibly know without studying you personally. Surly the subjectivity
and individuality of human experience means that any conclusions the draws about her own experiences that are not
general are surely invalid. Maybe, if she studies me for long enough, see will know what colour looks like to me. She
will know exactly how I would react to it, and do we have reason to believe that seeing is anything else? But she
will not know how she would so would still learn another introspective facit about herself upon leaving her captivity.