Excerpt from part 1:
My wife and I sailed to England in the summer of 1963. I carried with me an idea I had had about qualia, as philosophers call the phenomenal qualities of experiences, such as the smell of coffee or the ‘redness’ of red. In my epistemology course at Harvard with Roderick Firth, I had had what struck me as an important insight – obvious to me but strangely repugnant to those I had tried it out on. I claimed that what was caused to happen in you when you looked at something red only seemed to be a quale – a homogeneous, unanalyzable, self-intimating ‘intrinsic’ property. Subjective experiences of color, for instance, couldn’t actually owe the way they seemed to their intrinsic properties; their intrinsic properties could in principle change without any subjective change; what mattered for subjectivity were properties that were – I didn’t have a word for it then– functional, relational. The same was going to be true of [mental] content properties in general, I thought. The meaning of an idea, or a thought, just couldn’t be a self-contained, isolated patch of psychic paint (what I later jocularly called ‘figment’); it had to be a complex dispositional property – a set of behavior-guiding, action-prompting triggers. This idea struck me as congenial with, if not implied by, what Ryle was saying. But when I got to Oxford, I found that these ideas seemed even stranger to my fellow graduate students at Oxford than at Harvard.