Picture: Daniel Dennett. Daniel Dennett not sceptical enough about qualia? It seems unlikely. Dennett’s trenchant view can be summed up in two words:  ‘What qualia?”.  It makes no sense, he would say, for us to talk about ineffable items of direct experience: things which by their definition, we can’t talk about. That’s not to say we can’t talk about our experience of the world: we just need to talk about it in third-person, heterophenomenological terms. Instead of claiming to discuss people’s first-person inner experience, we discuss what they report about their first-person  inner experience. In fact, if we think about it carefully, we’ll realise that’s all we could ever do, all we’ve ever done: really, whatever we may have supposed, all phenomenology is actually heterophenomenology; all discussion is necessarily in third-person, objective, scrutable, effable terms.

Typically Dennett’s is a relatively lonely voice ranged against those who would assert that qualia, direct private phenomenal experiences, are knowably, undeniably real, however hard they may be to explain and to reconcile with the objective third-person world described by science. Now Justin Sytsma (‘Dennett’s Theory of the Folk Theory’, JCS Vol 17, no 3-4) interestingly takes a different tack, suggesting that in fact Dennett has conceded too much by accepting that the folk theory, what ordinary people naively believe about their own experience, includes belief in qualia. He quotes Dennett saying:

“there seem to be qualia, because it really does seem as if science has shown us that colors can’t be out there, and hence must be in here…”

Reasonably, if somewhat unphilosophically, Sytsma treats what people actually believe as an empirical matter, something we can test; in a sense we could say that this is turning heterophenomenology on itself. It turns out, apparently, that Dennett’s assumption is false: in fact people don’t regard, say, redness, as an ineffable mental quality, but as a real property of things in the world.  Perhaps ordinary people are more sophisticated than Dennett has given them credit for: perhaps less; not sufficiently aware of  ‘what science has shown us‘ for it to have had much impact on what they believe.

What are we to make of this? Well, one issue is that there is an inbuilt tension in the entity we’re trying to discuss: Sytsma is talking about folk theories: but folk beliefs are really what we have when we have no theories: a folk theory is a kind of contradiction in terms. Julian of Norwich, I think, said that the worst thing about heretics was that they forced honest Christians to determine the truth of theological propositions which pious folk could otherwise have ignored; in a similar way we might argue that philosophical experimenters force their subjects into addressing tricky phenomenological questions which would otherwise never have troubled them.

Sytsma, then, by asking his subjects questions, was not evoking their previously-held views on phenomenology so much as engendering these views for the first time. There is an obvious danger that the terms of the question would tend to influence the form of the views evoked; but really that doesn’t matter because whatever view Sytsma evoked, it would be different to the no-view that his subjects held initially. Is the folk view pro or anti qualia?  The most accurate answer is probably ‘no’.

However,  forensically Dennett must be in the right.  If we want to establish a position, we need to argue against its negation; even if the majority or ‘the folk’ favour our view, we must instead argue against an arbitrary opponent; in fact against all the most plausible and persuasive opponents we can think of.  Even if Dennett was wrong about what people generally believe, tactically it was correct to assume that they disagreed with him: without being unduly elitist, what the majority, or the folk, or the man on the Clapham omnibus actually happen to think, is in this case philosophically uninteresting. We need not worry about whether we should endorse a sceptical theory about Dennett’s sceptical theory about folk theories. Isn’t that a relief?

313 Comments

  1. 1. Lloyd Rice says:

    The view that I talked about in “Decomissioning..” would say that there is something real about people’s reports of what red is, although it is of course true that such reports are always to be taken cautiously. I have not seen this “signal synthesis” idea discussed elsewhere. Anybody?

    I claim that the medial temporal? lobe synthesizes a specific signal based on the processed versions of the sensed cone excitations. How that signal is originally defined is, I claim, subject to the requirements of the moment of first perception, the need to distinguish pink, etc. Henceforth, that signal is synthesized as a way to recall and recognize the color.

    Similar signals constitute the “qualia” for sound and touch stimuli, including pain. Most other percepts are presented to the central manager (see Baars) more or less directly as observed, and following generous amounts of adjustment to compensate for background changes, distance, etc.

  2. 2. Vicente says:

    Peter, just a quick reaction of what I think there are two basic elements in your post.

    – Even in the case that colors were an intrinsic property of matter, it makes very little change for the qualia problem. The question would be, how did the colors get in my brain, which is greyish all the time, irrespective of what I am looking at, and second there are many other qualia different from colors.

    – “but folk beliefs are really what we have when we have no theories”

    It is not true, when we have no theories we can have no theories, no need for “pacifier” believes. If I ignore something, I ignore something and that’s it. I could make a guess, but that is very different froma a believe.

    Very different is that scientific theories, are in a way a myth, a believe, since the can be proven false. They can be consider the best myth among all current ones.

    And also a different issue is that sometimes people stick to absurd positions to be notorious, just to have a differential attribute that provides them a space of their own to make their living on it.

  3. 3. Vicente says:

    believe -> belief (I must be blind)

  4. 4. Vicente says:

    And even in the brain visual cortex changed with color stimuli it still doesn’t make a change.

  5. 5. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: “Similar signals constitute the “qualia” for sound and touch stimuli, including pain”

    Please, tell me one single parameter or characteristic of those signals that ressembles or has anything to do with a color or any other qualia, including pain. Anything in those signal you could think of.

  6. 6. John davey says:

    I don’t see the argument. If Dennett is saying “there must be qualia” it seems to be that he is making a statement about an objective fact in the universe – namely qualia. If it was just a question of opinion, wouldn’t he have said “the folk theory suggests that folks believe in qualia”

    Am I missing something ? Incidentally, there are plenty of elitist philosophers who believe in them too !

    Lloyd,

    “The view that I talked about in “Decomissioning..” would say that there is something real about people’s reports of what red is,”

    Do YOU see red ? Have you ever had any day to day problems with people who have constantly disagreed with you that something is blue rather than yellow, and where medical circumstances were not an issue ?

    It is evidently rather peculiar to discuss the existence of something that everybody agrees on. By asking ‘does red exist’ both parties are actually agreeing that it does, as they both know what ‘red’ means. As they both know what it means, its existence is confirmed by both deniers and confirmers. Dennett is no different, although he seems to dress it up as a linguistic crisis – logical positivism by another name.

  7. 7. Allen says:

    The problem isn’t that qualia don’t exist, but rather that they are fundamental.

    Can anything fundamental ever be communicated to someone not already possessing knowledge of it?

    The information that is conveyed by verbal communication is just a series of unique identifiers for concepts which both parties must both already possess. No *actual* fundamental concepts are EVER communicated in this way.

    Let’s say I tell you, “I have a red cube that is 2 inches on a side.” To understand that message, you must already have the fundamental concepts of redness and of spatial distance and dimension and be able to map the words I’m using to those concepts.

    Note however, that the concept of a “cube” is obviously NOT fundamental…but fully grasping it’s meaning requires possession of the fundamental concepts of spatial distance and dimension.

    So, I can communicate the meaning of “cube” to you because it isn’t a fundamental concept…it’s defined in terms of spatial dimensions. However, I cannot communicate the meaning of “space” or “color” or “emotion” to someone who has no subjective experience of those concepts, because they ARE fundamental.

  8. 8. John davey says:

    allen

    I Fully agree with everything you say – rare in this subject area !

  9. 9. Vicente says:

    Allen, I agree with, just adding a characteristic to qualia. Appart from being fundamental, qualia are also personal and subjective.

    Being fundamental is not an impediment for something to be objective and observable (indirectly at least), for example the fundamental elements of physics will be objective and observable. But qualia are not like that.

    When you say you can communicate to somebody your experience of red is on the basis of your confidence in the other person experiencing the same qualia as you do. I will recall arguments like “dancing qualia”.

    You persons can observe a red ball simultaneously, but they cannot observe each other observed mind image by no means.

    Nobody can observe other persons qualia. They are fundamental and something more.

  10. 10. John davey says:

    Vicente

    “Being fundamental is not an impediment for something to be objective and observable (indirectly at least), for example the fundamental elements of physics will be objective and observable. But qualia are not like that.”

    Fundamental particles are observed, but never directly. All measurements of basic particles involve the use of metrics that arise from experiments that assume that those same particles exist, or at least that the underlying physics is fully valid. The “measurement” is an outcome of theoretical development.

    If there was a fully fledged theory of mental states then it would be possible to, likewise, set up experiments that would yield measurements of consciousness. Qualia would therefore be observable in exactly the same way that fundamental particles are.

    A classic example of a modern day folk-measurement of somebody’s mental state is to look at their faces, to judge them asleep, and so forth. More modern examples are the array of apparatus used by anaethetists, or, if you are prepared to accept the methodology may be a bit blunt, the electrical imaging used in brain scans.

  11. 11. Vicente says:

    John: I completely disagree on #10

    The particles are indirectly observed but their characteristic parameters are measured. Particles are located in space (preserving Heissemberg uncertainty of course). There are models for particles, and measurments and objective data behind.

    Qualia lack of all these.

    choose a small square area of the image you have now in your mind (eg: the “d” of mind), now give me the approximate coordinates (cartesian in meters)of the centre of that area. You can take the tip of your nose as coordinates origin if you want to.

  12. 12. Allen says:

    Each of us lives in a personal and subjective world. I only know about my subjective experience. From my knowledge of these subjective experiences, I infer additional beliefs about how things “really” are.

    The true fundamental facts are our subjective observations, not physical facts. Physics is just a summary of human experience. We construct plausible scientific narratives that are consistent with what we observe, BUT these are descriptive metaphors, not explanations. Our observations are such that it is *as though* electrons exist…not that electrons *actually* exist.

    We have our orderly conscious experiences and we want to explain them. To do this, we need some context to place these experiences in. So we postulate the existence of an orderly external universe that “causes” our experiences. But then we have to explain what caused this orderly external universe, and why it has the particular initial conditions and causal laws that result in what we observe instead of some other initial conditions and/or causal laws.

    If “The Physical World Hypothesis” is intended to explain the order and consistency of our experiences, then what explains the physical world’s order and consistency?

    I don’t accept *or* reject as fact the claim that there is a noumenal world that underlies our phenomenal experiences. I think Descarte’s “dream argument” and his “Method of Doubt” show that our perceptions are not necessarily a reliable guide to the “world as it really is”. Maybe the world is exactly as it appears, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe there is nothing to reality except our experiences. I don’t see any way that we can ever get outside our subjective experience to determine which is the case.

    However, I don’t outright deny that it is impossible to gain knowledge of how things really are. Who knows what future discoveries await us? BUT, as of now, I haven’t see any convincing evidence that it’s possible.

    The belief in an independently existing physical world is a starting assumption, not something derived from observation. Vicente’s dogmatic assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.

  13. 13. Lloyd Rice says:

    On the assumption that my Allen[12] metaphors are of interest to anyone, I would like to talk about my signals. Do I dare do so?

    Pete Mandik, in his OCC talk (http://consciousnessonline.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/color-consciousness-conceptualism/), discusses some of the mechanics of blue1 vs blue2, but I have two concerns. One is that I believe he is not clear about what it is that comes out of the context adjustment steps and that may or may not get stored in short-term memory. He refers to a concept, but is not very clear about what this concept is and where in the pathway it applies. But more than that, he does not discuss the apparent conversion of the three-dimensional cone excitation signal into a two-dimensional color value. Thus, his discussion of whether the primary colors determine the color qualia misses the point.

    In my view, the 3D cone excitation value (after context adjustment) gets converted into a 2D color signal. No, Vicente, that signal is not any shade of blue. It is a relative, time-dependent signal consisting of two neural firing rates, which my central manager interprets as equivalent to the corresponding signal generated when I look at some point on the CIE color chart. That is to say that the signal, either before or after a short stay in STM, is interpreted (“seen”) by the central manager as a shade of blue.

    The nature of this interpretation is, I believe most will agree, the core of the matter. The main point is that, by its neural nature, the signal can be stored, retrieved, and compared with other such signals. Because the signal is, by its nature a shaky, changing 2D variable, the comparisons do not always come out the same. Sometimes blue1 equals blue2, sometimes not. But now the signal has to “be like something”. Somehow, it seems easier for me to think through how the brain might make an edge or a shape appear to “me” as “being like something” than to see how the same kind of “being like” could be true for this more abstract signal. But the same kind of operations must be involved. In my view of how this all works, the process of creating the color signal has made the color accessible to the central manager in the same way as the shape or object identification information that has similarly been presented to the manager.

    I fully realize that to you discerning readers that in trying to describe how all of this information available to the central manager gets interpreted as “a world out there”, I have not said anything about why it “is like something”. To me, the question hangs on what the manager must do with that information. As I have said earlier, the central manager will do nothing with the information other than to use it to make motor activity decisions.

    It is my hope that by continuing to sort out the details ever closer to what the central manager actually does, we will get closer to eventually understanding how it is that it “is like something”.

  14. 14. Vicente says:

    Well Allen, my position is in the worst case as dogmatic as yours.

    If you look at cmmt #2, I also said that I believe that scientific theories are the best myths among all current ones.

    Lloyd: “No, Vicente, that signal is not any shade of blue”. Precisely.

    “The nature of this interpretation is, I believe most will agree, the core of the matter”

    Absolutely, assuming it is in fact an “interpretation”.

    “It is my hope that by continuing to sort out the details ever closer to what the central manager actually does, we will get closer to eventually understanding how it is that it “is like something”.”

    Ok, why not.

  15. 15. Lloyd Rice says:

    I said in #13 that I thought it would be easier to imagine how the brain goes from its representation of the shape of an object to a 3D conscious form of that object than to imagine how it gets from the 2D color signal to the color quale. But there is an equally interesting story with form as is with color.

    Obviously, the neural signals that represent the form are not themselves three-dimensional objects. I would like to know more about the neural signals that represent form, but the ability to do mental rotations and other such abilities make it clear that the signals do represent the 3D object.

    So how is it that these neural signals could become conscious qualia for the form?

  16. 16. Lloyd Rice says:

    Is it fun to beat around these bushes the way we all do, each in his own way?

  17. 17. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: So how is it that these neural signals could become conscious qualia for the form?

    The only thing I believe to have clear, is that: “something” uses the data/information contained in those signals, plus some additional information, to construct our inner phenomenal experience.

    Who/what does that? and where does it take place? are the core questions for me.

    My personal guess is that the construction of the experience does not takes place in the brain, not even in this Universe.

    Ready for the coming punches…

  18. 18. Mike Spenard says:

    Wouldn’t Dennett’s point from his “Making Sense of Ourselves” in Intentional Stance be applicable here? The unsophisticated modern person,with his folk psychology, could hold two mutually exclusive beliefs. I.e, that objects themselves /are/ “red”, and that “redness” is something non physical? Its a large assumption, but most people I encounter are Dualists by other names believing in a non-physical mental life, yet feel firmly that the stop light /is/ “red”.

  19. 19. John davey says:

    Vicente

    “The particles are indirectly observed but their characteristic parameters are measured. Particles are located in space (preserving Heissemberg uncertainty of course). There are models for particles, and measurments and objective data behind.”

    If there was a theory for mental phenomena, then there would have to be ‘characteristic parameters’ associated with them too! The ‘characteristic parameters’ of fundamental particles are theoretical in origin – I assume you don’t think anybody can see them, or feel them, or that somehow experimentation can ‘see’ or ‘feel’ via proxy. They are as evident as the theory is acceptable. I see no difference between the ‘characteristic parameters’ to be found in a theory of mind and one to be found in a theory of matter. Indeed, it would be axiomatic that any theory of consciousness would also have to relate to the world of detectables, the physical world. Otherwise it could not be mathematical, nor much use.

    It strikes me that preliminary models of thsi type are being developed in any case by neurological departments using CAT scans. It is the obvious (as well as only) route forward in the circumstances.

    But ultimately the relationship between physics and space, time and mass is no more topologically unified than the relationship of physics to mental phenomena. A mathematical theory of consciousness and an ability to measure consciosuness may be inattainable in practice, but in theory it is a perfectly possible outcome.

  20. 20. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re Vicente[17]: There is really just one underlying basis for my views, which is that the brain operates by purely materialist principles. Because I find that view so unshakable, it drives the resulting belief that qualia are somehow produced by the activities of the perceptual modules together with the controller/manager/workspace (as per GWT), even though I cannot at this time find a suitable argument for how it could take place that I do seem to have “what it’s like” experiences.

    I suppose that is an unsatisfactory answer. It certainly is so for me, because I would like very much to understand what goes on in the neural firings and how that produces the qualia that I experience.

    I keep reading and debating and hoping someday …

  21. 21. Lloyd Rice says:

    As I said in #13, my strategy is to continue gathering science-based information about how the brain works, adding to this my software experience, hoping to close in on the qualia question from both sides. Of course, I understand that from the Vicente[17] point of view, such a strategy is essentially meaningless.

    BTW, I am having second thoughts about the 2D structure of color. I suspect that saturation would take us back to a 3D color model. Nevertheless, the 3D signal need not consist of the same three dimensions as the cone excitations.

  22. 22. Vicente says:

    John:

    The point is that we can locate particles in space with certain accuracy, even if it is just following a trace in a fog chamber, or computing the data provided by thousands of detectors in the walls of the LHC.

    Then, we can all look at the same fog chamber.

    Now, can you answer my question, just tell me where is the centre of this “O” in your mind image, in meters please, with any accuracy. Is there any chance that I might have a look at the “O” in your mind. This one is the easiest of all the questions I can pose.

    The study of particles has nothing to do with the “study” of qualia.

    What is your preliminary model for qualia? just a crazy guess…

  23. 23. Vicente says:

    John: of course, looking at the chamber is not looking at the particle, but the point is: can you tell me any process equivalent to this one for qualia.

  24. 24. Vicente says:

    Lloyd:

    I don’t think your strategy is meaningless, actually it would be great that somebody finds an answer, proving me completely wrong. You are more productive and constructive, I basically just do nothing to find an answer.

  25. 25. Lloyd Rice says:

    I appreciate that the Vicente[17] view is said to be a guess rather than an unshakable conviction, such as I have described Lloyd[20]. In my case, it seems to be beyond my control. I would like to think that a sufficiently compelling argument would lead to a change in my beliefs. I have certainly many times changed some of my less world-encompassing views.

    In any case, I do not plan to stop asking questions.

  26. 26. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, here is a view to shake up your belief. Let’s do a thought experiment from the God’s eye view.
    I claim that God will say Dennett is right. Qualia? What qualia!

    Imagine you are God. You are forever, you are omnipotent. You exists outside of time. Time and space are something inside your thought. They are something you can play with. Now you created the universe inside your thought. In your creation, you set some parameters and boom, the universe comes into existence. You takes a hands-off approach. You let it evolve. You watch it evolve like watching a DVD. If you don’t like it, you do a rerun and change the plot. You can, but you don’t. At some point inside the DVD, some creature pops up and starts complaining he has qualia and is confused by it. You said, that is interesting! Let me see what makes the movie to play this way. Since you did not make the movie yourself. Rather you let it run on its own. So you have to put the movie through a debugger to run it through frame by frame to see exactly what was causing this weird creature to complain. Being omnipotent, you immediately understand what the cause of behavior is and you said, it is fine. This is just a result if I let it run its own course. It is all “physically” explainable behaviors. Then this create stops complaining. And then he dies of old age. Generation after generation, more creatures start to discuss about this qualia thing. Some publish papers about it. And you said, this is indeed an interesting world I created. I did not know if I let my thought run free, these creatures will invent a topic call qualia and publish papers about it. In deep amazement, you turn your attention to something else and your thought disappears. The universe vanishes. You turn around and have another thought, and another universe comes into existence. This time, you readjust some parameters, and make sure that the word “qualia” never appears in the new movie. Indeed, you finish the new DVD and the word qualia is never heard again in the entire movie. You said, good, finally I found a way to get rid of that irritating sound.

    Conclusion: In God’s view, there is no qualia. It is just some irritating noise generated by some creatures inside one of his thoughts.

  27. 27. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: I must be missing something. My thoughts did not shake. I see a couple of old geezers watching TV. Who cares how the stories come out? Discovery Channel has a great new science show coming on, anyhow. So get some more Fritos and another six-pack and shut up.

    Why is the universe the way it is? Geez. I have no idea! I kind of like the idea that there are billions of different universes, each with its own strength of strong force or gravity. Some of them support life, some don’t. Evolution does its thing. We are what we are. Qualia or no qualia, I still face the same issues.

  28. 28. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee: #26 is not a thought experiment, it is just a story.

  29. 29. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, “..I must be missing something..” Indeed, you missed the entire point. Unfortunately, I cannot say it in any clearer way than what I just said.
    Vicente, it is not a thought experiment in regular usage of the term. So, let’s call it a story.

  30. 30. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: Yes, I did treat your #26 rather flippantly. I found it too hard to do otherwise, although I did read it carefully. If I were able to imagine such a powerful being and then somehow get all the details right about just exactly how his creations would work, then I could perhaps have answered otherwise. But here is the problem: You seem to think that an all powerful God could imaginatively create any sort of universe that would, without further intervention, follow any set of rules that he might dream up. I have no idea whether that could be possible or not, but my materialistic bias says it would not be possible. Could a universe be created such that it would follow any arbitrary combination of “rules” (ie. physics laws, or whatever)? Maybe so, maybe not, but for me, it’s totally off the deep end to suppose it could be. So I answered your “story” the way I did.

    Now the bottom line is that if my ideas about consciousness are correct, then your “no qualia” universe would not be possible. So the story made no sense. If my ideas about consciousness are not correct, then I cannot image what characteristics any universe might have. OK, maybe that’s going a little too far, but it’s in the right direction.

  31. 31. Lloyd Rice says:

    If my ideas about consciousness are not correct, then the universe as I understand it does not follow physical laws, so anything goes. I have the same point of view regarding divine miracles and all other forms of supposed godly powers.

  32. 32. John davey says:

    “The point is that we can locate particles in space with certain accuracy, even if it is just following a trace in a fog chamber, or computing the data provided by thousands of detectors in the walls of the LHC.”

    The existence of the particles is theoretical : the tracing is theoretical (even in a cloud chamber) : you are measuring the particles, or their location/velocity or other physical properties through indirect means.

    The level of current neurology is somewhat primitive but I submit that that is irrelevant to the wider point. Electrical activity in the brain in CAT scans is clearly being mapped (in a broad sense) to mental states. There is well established science relating specific parts of the brain to, for instance, emotional states, certain competences and so forth. Some parts of the brain seem to be more clearly connected to consciousness than others (in the sense that they cannot be damaged without leading to death). There are the series of famous experiments which assert the ability to detect specific decisions from neural activity (before the decider is aware of making the decision, apparently). All these are external, detectable observables relating to mental states.

    If you want my opinion you are falling into the same trap as the strong AI people. You are assuming that physics has a phenomenological relationship with the physical world rather than a descriptive one. Physics tells us about particles, but only inasmuch they occupy space and time. It tells us nothing about matter as an intrinsic substance. Nothing at all. That is where mental phenomena and the ‘intrinsic’ characteristics of matter are the same. They elude direct detection but they nonetheless leave traces we all can follow. In physics that leads to the use of things liek cloud chambers. In neurology at the moment we have to use the rather crude device of asking the objects of neurological experiments what they think or feel, and relate electrical activity to it.

    I have no ‘model’ for qualia incidentally other than I know they exist.I am not entitled to speculate on specific causes on mental states as far as I am concerned – the science just is not there in any way – although I am completely entitled to rule some out – computation, for instance.

  33. 33. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: Why should computation be ruled out as a cause of mental states? Yet, you say you do not know all about the brain. Do you know all about computation?

  34. 34. Allen says:

    Bernard d’ Espagnat has an interesting discussion of the quantum mechanical treatment of “particle traces” seen in cloud chambers in “On Physics and Philosophy”, pg. 95:

    “At first sight, as we noted, these alignments of bubbles seem comparable to the white trails produced by a jet plane in a blue sky. Hence, when the ‘particle’ source is external to the chamber (or the emulsion), we not only attribute to each ‘particle’ inside this device a well-defined trajectory (coinciding with the trace) but also do not hesitate to continue the latter to the rear, by thought, up to the particle source. [...] However, as we also noted, such a picture does not fit with quantum mechanics (nor, incidentally, with the Broglie-Bohm model, in which the corpuscles continually undergo deviations dictated by the whole-universe wave function). [...]

    The true explanation for the observed alignments is not, therefore, to be looked for within the realm of such ideas, great as may be the force with which our intuition puts them forward. It essentially lies in the fact that, when the initial conditions are sufficiently known quantum mechanics makes it possible to predict what will be observed. It does this, as we know, by introducing mathematical symbols that were given names (wave function, state vector, etc.) and many of them evoke some picture. But, to repeat, the pictures thus called up are unreliable ones and play no role in the calculations.

    What quantum mechanics in fact yields are merely the probabilities that, for a given initial flow, microblobs will be observed at such and such places within the device. And, as already noted, the probabilities of concerning the cases of the blobs being aligned along the general direction of motion are considerably larger than those relative to any other configuration. In other words, what quantum mechanics predicts is just that, within the device, we shall see alignments (of microblobs or bubbles) consistent with what we actually observe and naively interpret as being ‘traces’.”

  35. 35. Allen says:

    Lloyd[20]:

    “There is really just one underlying basis for my views, which is that the brain operates by purely materialist principles.”

    Fine. Materialist principles explain your brain’s operation. But what explains materialist principles?

    1) What do like charges repel? They just do…that’s physics for you.

    2) Why does your brain’s operations produce qualia. They just do…that’s brain operations for you.

    If you’re happy with the first “explanation”, why not be happy with the second?

    What is the difference between an explanation and a mere description?

  36. 36. John davey says:

    lloyd
    “Yet, you say you do not know all about the brain”
    No, the brain is a physical object whose nature is eluded by scientific investigation.Currently the state of knowledge about it is dismal – let’s put it at < 1%.

    "Do you know all about computation?"
    Yes. Computation is a mathematical theory of symbols. What computers do is fully known by definition – thus it is known 100%

    Mathematical symbols have no causal powers. They do not even exist, in the phenomenological sense. They are observer relative : syntactical : meaningless. I assume you work in the IT field, as I do – ask yourself a question – if I gave you a computer program in source or binary form, could you tell me what I was meant to be doing ?

  37. 37. John davey says:

    lloyd

    just to be clear, that is what FUNCTION the program is meant to perform, not the actual bytes and bit manipulation etc.

  38. 38. Lloyd Rice says:

    Allen: Yes, I agree with both propositions of #35.

    John: That is to say that you know in principle what all possible computations could do. But that is a very long way (way less than 1%) of knowing the computational details of all possible computed functions.

    That is to say that you cannot know the limits of what computation can do. And don’t bring up Goedel. We are not talking about closed functions that have no ongoing input.

    As for my software quiz (as per #37), maybe or maybe not. But I don’t see how that is relevant. Is the process of evolution computable?

  39. 39. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: What you can know is a certain set of properties of a certain limited class of computable functions. That’s a very long way from knowing all that is computable.

  40. 40. John davey says:

    “That is to say that you know in principle what all possible computations could do. But that is a very long way (way less than 1%) of knowing the computational details of all possible computed functions.”

    Computation is a branch of mathematics that deals with operations on sets of symbols. Frankly that is all you need to know. Numbers have no causal or phenomenological powers. 2 + 2 can’t make rain.

    “As for my software quiz (as per #37), maybe or maybe not. But I don’t see how that is relevant. Is the process of evolution computable?”

    The correct answer as you well know Lloyd is you cannot know – unless you ask the programmer. Programs are never ‘about’ anything, that is the problem. Imagine writing a ‘sad’ program, some kind of subroutine that mimicked ‘being sad’. Let’s say I choose my hardware to be a chipset with a certain set of microinstructions. So I run my ‘sad’ program. I then run it on a different set of hardware with a different microinstruction set. Only on this machine , the effect of this ‘sad’ program is to run a program that is actually effectively the same as a ‘happy’ program on this new hardware.

    What I need is a software machine to emulate my old hardware on my new hardware to get my ‘sad’ program to work. The question is, is the computer sad when it runs the sad program through the emulator or is it just running an emulator ? Which one does it have to choose between when it’s being conscious ?

    “Is the process of evolution computable?”

    It’s modellable. Modellable on a computer, on a scrap of paper. But not reproduced in a computer of course, no more than a program of a rainstorm reproduces a rainstorm, or a program of a brain reproduces a brain.

    As for my software quiz (as per #37), maybe or maybe not. But I don’t see how that is relevant. Is the process of evolution computable?

  41. 41. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: “2+2 can’t make rain”, “program a rainstorm”, etc. To the contrary. That is one of Searle’s basic misconceptions. I need only refer you to earlier pages of this blog where I have talked about automobile engine controllers. Of course, there are many, many examples. Computers run things, computers kill people.

    Of course, today’s computers are built and (mostly) programmed by people. But that will not be true always.

    The problem with your “sad” computer example is that you’re thinking too small. Sadness in humans is a matter of neural firing in the amygdala, striatum or other such places. Those firings stimulate the appropriate neurotransmitter chemicals and, lo, the rest of the day feels gloomy and bitter. The computer can certainly have the equivalent of the neural and chemical responses. So there are two issues here, the obvious material causes and the conscious results. You seem to be denying the latter by way of denying the former. That will not work.

  42. 42. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, just for my curiosity now that we are talking about a “sad” computer program. Could you illustrate what your “sad” computer program might entail? Will it be a behaviorism based “sad” program? (Actually, I can’t help burst into laughter when I think of a “sad” computer program. Don’t ask me why, it just feel very very funny.)

  43. 43. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: Well, I specifically did not discuss how the “feel” of sadness might be implemented. I can certainly imagine a number of conditions in which things are not going well and the software might work better having some sort of feedback to that effect. But wait. Let us stop and take stock.

    What is the function of sadness? Presumably, it has a primarily social role. It seems to me that it will be some time yet before computers need any sort of mechanisms to deal with “life” on a social basis, either between computers and humans or among computers. We’re not even close to the Leonard Nimoy flavor of “iRobot”, let alone the Will Smith flavor. Until that time arrives, I see no purpose in computational sadness and therefore shall decline to speculate on implementations.

    I’m happy that you are enjoying the thought. I did not mean to suggest that sadness might be one of Windows9’s big new features.

  44. 44. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: This is going back to an old point; your question in #5, paraphrased, “How are these ‘signals’ anything like the qualia they are supposed to generate?”

    Pain: The primary role of pain qualia is to identify a specific body region. That is clearly done by triggering one of the topical maps, perhaps in the posterior portions of the cingulate gyrus. But what about the severity? I claim that the pain signal is one of several levels of alarm that becomes conscious because it acts on one or more of the modules which connect to the workspace controller. Because pain does not have a specific “shape” or “texture” that could directly create a “feel”, it is necessary to synthesize a unique signal for each level of severity, which is then realized as the qualia we feel, be that tickling, itching, heat, pressure, puncture, and so on.

    Auditory qualia are more interesting to me, but let me hold that for another time.

  45. 45. Lloyd Rice says:

    In #43, I should have said “I, Robot” instead of “iRobot”.

  46. 46. John davey says:

    “John: “2+2 can’t make rain”, “program a rainstorm”, etc. To the contrary. That is one of Searle’s basic misconceptions. I need only refer you to earlier pages of this blog where I have talked about automobile engine controllers. Of course, there are many, many examples. Computers run things, computers kill people.”

    so a simulation of a rainstorm IS a rainstorm ? You have an imagination Lloyd, I’ll say that for you !

    “Of course, today’s computers are built and (mostly) programmed by people. But that will not be true always.”

    Strictly speaking computers have been programming since the advent of 2GL’s in the 1970’s. But a computer program won’t ever write a computer program unless it’s programmed to do so. So I guess you’re wrong.

    “The problem with your “sad” computer example is that you’re thinking too small.”

    Wow ! I need to get with the zeitgest !

    |Sadness in humans is a matter of neural firing in the amygdala, striatum or other such places.”

  47. 47. John davey says:

    |Sadness in humans is a matter of neural firing in the amygdala, striatum or other such places.”

    Yes – and a matter of feeling sad. Have you never felt sad Lloyd ? Never, not even lonely, frustrated that nobody listens to you ? Is emotion just a sequence of neural firings, or are there consequences ?

    “Those firings stimulate the appropriate neurotransmitter chemicals and, lo, the rest of the day feels gloomy and bitter. ”

    Ah .. So its the chemicals that create the feelings, not the computation. The material,the matter that pervades the brain, shapes the consciousness. So you agree with me that consciousness it not caused by computation as well !

  48. 48. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: “to synthesize a unique signal for each level of severity, which is then REALIZED as the qualia we feel”.

    realized?

    Nobody answers my question about where in space qualia dwell…

  49. 49. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, if you take being “Sad” to mean the feeling of “sadness”, then it has no function at all. But if you take being “sad” to be a descriptive term for a collection of (third person view) physiological states in which they combine to trigger some certain behavior, then “sad” has its function. I think we are talking about the former, not the latter. That is why I asked if you would code a “sad” program according to behavioral means. If this is the approach, then it is very simple: Declare a n-bit integer, from negative to positive, and let all the states in the state machine architecture contribute to this number. That is the computer sadness. According to this computer sadness index, the computer is given a certain probability of doing certain things, weighted by this index. So, if the computer is “happy” (index being positive), it is more likely to generate one type of sound, for example. If it is “sad”, it is more likely to generate another type of sound, among other things. The index can be two dimensional, to generate those bitter-sweat moment, etc. So, now you have your sad program, and the computer is really really sad. And at this point, I start laughing again. See..I just generated a “sad” computer… :)

    John, on one specific point of computation, I like to come to Lloyd’s defense. Chemical reaction can be viewed as one form of computation. So, a computationalist can see the brain as a chemical computer, which is consistent with their view.

    Vicente, if I may again invoke the CPU/software metaphor for the mind/world interaction, as the presence of the CPU is not to be found inside the virtual world of the software (SIMS family’s world for example), the mind is not to be found inside the 3-D physical world. It is “elsewhere”. It is fruitless to ask a SIMS character to find his “mind(i.e. the CPU)” in his virtual world and he can run to every corner of his world and he will not find it. That is the beauty of the universal mind hypothesis with this metaphor. But to a monist materialist, this won’t cut it.

  50. 50. John davey says:

    Kar – “Chemical reaction can be viewed as one form of computation.”

    That isn’t what Lloyd said – He said the computation led to the release of the chemicals which led to the feelings. If the chemicals are computation by another name, why mention them ?

    Besides, I disagree. Chemical composition is a hardware issue, not a software issue. Chemical reactions can’t be computational as they aren’t really software.

  51. 51. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: “2+2 can’t make rain” et al? I suggest you double-check your physics (or your computer manual). I agree that if your software simply increments ” int raindrop;”, then nobody gets wet. But all you need to do is hook it up to a condenser/evaporator and you had better grab your umbrella.

    You say chemicals don’t compute. But neurons exude all kinds of chemicals. Some of them affect synapses, ie., computation. Others affect things like the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the glands, ie., direct chemical effects.

    Bottom line: There’s no hard and fast dividing line. Have you ever programmed an FPGA? You can’t separate hardware/software, computation/physical effects, simulation/reality, etc, etc. The key elements are called transducers. Information cannot be so easily constrained.

  52. 52. Lloyd Rice says:

    What’s this ‘heterophenomenology’, anyhow?

    Suppose you are talking to a non-human entity, perhaps from another planet who has lived on Earth long enough to speak your language. You have no preconceptions about the nature of this entity’s mind. You interview this individual. Is there anything you could ask to elicit a clue as to whether or not this entity “experienced” things rather than just “knowing” things?

    Blindsight tells us that it is possible to know without seeing. But presumably the facts can always be discerned through conversation.

    Obviously, if you believe consciousness is a basic property of the universe (Burt, et al), the answer is ‘yes’. But to others, I pose this question. What questions would you ask?

  53. 53. Vicente says:

    Loyd: “Blindsight tells us that it is possible to know without seeing”

    very interesting statement. I believe it is not absolutely true, but it must hold a key to understand better how visual information is processed.

    Can people with blindsight condition imagine the known but unseen object? or is it that they only have information about certain characteristics of the object. How is it then?

  54. 54. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I believe Gazzanaga has the best treatment of the condition. Koch also has a good discussion. Typically, one side of the visual field is “non-functional”.

    The bottom line seems to be that the person can answer various questions about an object that is within the faulty visual region but not within the good visual field. The person reports not being able to see the object, but can answer questions about its shape, size, orientation, and (maybe) color. As far as I know, nobody really knows how it works (brainwise, that is). One theory I’ve seen is that the thalamus, receiving both visual fields, does more analysis than had been previously believed. The assumption is that thalamic “perception” would not contribute to consciousness.

    It’s been a long time since I read the Gazzanaga stuff, though.

  55. 55. Lloyd Rice says:

    Make that “Gazzaniga”.

  56. 56. John davey says:

    “John: “2+2 can’t make rain” et al? I suggest you double-check your physics (or your computer manual). I agree that if your software simply increments ” int raindrop;”, then nobody gets wet. But all you need to do is hook it up to a condenser/evaporator and you had better grab your umbrella.”

    That is a bit like saying ‘all you need to do is create some clouds and hey ho ! computation creates rain” ! Crazy. The rain is created by the water vapour, not the computer.

    I think you need to do some work on ontology and causality. If you think that in the above example that computation was causing the rain in that example, you have a bit of work to do.

    “Bottom line: There’s no hard and fast dividing line.”

    I don’t think even Daniel Dennett himself would say there is no hard and fast dividing line between the physical world and the virtual world of numbers.

    “You can’t separate hardware/software, computation/physical effects, simulation/reality, etc, etc”

    You can – its very, very easy and you can start by answering the question I asked you earlier. Does a computer program running an emulator running a sad program feel sad ?

  57. 57. John davey says:

    “Suppose you are talking to a non-human entity, perhaps from another planet who has lived on Earth long enough to speak your language. You have no preconceptions about the nature of this entity’s mind. You interview this individual. Is there anything you could ask to elicit a clue as to whether or not this entity “experienced” things rather than just “knowing” things?”

    If he speaks English then I’s ask him “are you conscious and do you experience things”. If he knew what I meant he could answer “yes” or “no”. He could be lying of course : but that would not alter the objective phenomenology of whether he is conscious or not.

  58. 58. Lloyd Rice says:

    John, re #56: If you built a house, would you say you pounded the nails or the hammer pounded the nails? I see nothing wrong with implicating second (or higher) order causes.

    John, re #57: So, assuming you could tell whether or not he was lying, your belief is that if he did not experience consciousness, he would stumble and mumble around, something like, “What the *** are you talking about?” Or, to put that another way, if he does not experience consc., he would simply not know how to answer. Anyone disagree with that? Could he (convincingly) fake it?

  59. 59. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee: could you give me any reference to read about this Universal Mind philosophy. I cannot understand what you say.

  60. 60. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee, re #49: It is not valid to compare the CPU with the mind. If anything, the CPU is (more or less) like the brain. The brain would be more like a very highly augmented motherboard with most of the software implemented in logic arrays. But still, the mind exists as the logical structure that “runs” in the neural hardware. Even if you go to the point of relating this motherboard to a software architecture, still you would have to say that the mind is the function that arises when the implemented software executes.

    Where the SIMS characters exist is still an interesting question — neither entirely hardware nor entirely software.

  61. 61. Kar Lee says:

    Vicente, unfortunately no! I have not seen it discussed anywhere else. The Universal Mind concept exists in many versions (from those new age cult beliefs to the philosophy of Buddhism and Hinduism). You will get a bunch of websites if you just google “Universal Mind”. But the metaphor I am using is completely my own imagination. However, I can send you a 50k-word manuscript that I have written (still in the process of editing and revising) which is an attempt to make a case for this concept.

  62. 62. Lloyd Rice says:

    I am assuming SIMS characters much more elaborate than today’s implementation. There would have to be much more mental capability before they could even begin to try to understand themselves.

  63. 63. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee, Vicente: Burt (see “Decomissioning .. #73) has an interesting take on the idea that consciousness is the root of everything. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no available on-line version of his ideas.

  64. 64. Lloyd Rice says:

    John, re #58: Maybe we need some different terminology for primary causes vs. more indirect causes. Here’s where my philo background comes up short.

  65. 65. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd,
    Interesting that you are getting into the ontology of the CPU, which is exactly the wrong way to look at this metaphor. Let’s say you are complimenting a beautiful girl by saying that she is as beautiful as a flower, and she starts dissecting the structure of a flower and try to make sense of how the comparison is possible in view of her own structure, would you agree that she has carried the metaphor too far?

    Since you are particularly good at envisioning yourself being a conscious computer, you should have no problem imagining yourself being a SIMS character living inside a virtual world, assuming the game in which this character belongs to is much better than the one created by Will Wright, so that all SIMS character achieve consciousness (use whatever definition of the word you are comfortable with). Now, where is the qualia associated with all these conscious beings? If there are indeed qualia for each individual character at all, the qualia cannot be anyone’s but that of the CPU. All the characters are simply role-playing performed by the CPU, running according to the software layer’s instruction. How can any single individual character have qualia while there is none for the CPU if the CPU is the real player behind the scene? It is in this sense that the metaphor of the CPU being the Universal Mind behind everything should be understood. If you can accept this way of looking at things, then the virtual world inside this computer game can be metaphorically mapped to the physical world we live in, both worlds governed by their own sets of “natural laws”. I don’t know if this description make sense to you or not.

  66. 66. Lloyd Rice says:

    But you see, Kar Lee, I do not accept the basic premise that “the qualia cannot be anyone’s but that of the CPU”. My theory of qualia (not unlike that of Dennett) is that qualia arise from the perceptual processing. If this is the case, then there is no reason to say that the qualia must somehow be centralized. It would in fact arise at the point of perception.

    Now, I am using the term ‘perception’ rather lightly in the above. As you well know from the last few blog pages, my view involves substantial processing between perception and qualia. But given characters of sufficient computational complexity, the basic point holds.

  67. 67. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: I may have gotten sidetracked from your original point in talking about SIMS characters. It is of course quite reasonable to say the the perception occurs as a function of processing in the CPU, even though the character may “think” he is somewhere else in a simulated environment. This is a strange situation in which the “mind” thinks it has a body different from the matter which supports it. If your original point was somehow related to this special situation, then I apologize for jumping to conclusions.

    Still, I stick by my statement in #66 about the nature of qualia.

  68. 68. Lloyd Rice says:

    In my view of consciousness, there is another layer of processing not normally discussed as a part of the global workspace model. I call this layer the Point-of-View Presentation, or POVP. The world model, as constructed in the workspace, is not in a form appropriate for efficient navigation in the world. For this purpose, another view is created, the POVP. For example, objects appear as solid 3D, but if a portion is hidden from view, that portion is not in the POVP. It is in this POVP view that the signals I have discussed which represent colors are presented in order to convey the unique qualities of each visible region. It is the processing of this POVP layer which gives rise to qualia.

  69. 69. Anonymous says:

    Lloyd

    I’m not speaking to you unless you answer my question.

  70. 70. John Davey says:

    Lloyd

    I’m not speaking to you unless you answer my question.

  71. 71. Kar Lee says:

    Vicente,
    I almost overlooked. Shankar’s blog contains some interesting discussion of the Universal Mind concept and it explores some of the consequence as well http://qualiaexaminer.blogspot.com/
    But in terms of the metaphor I keep coming back to, I have not seen it anywhere else.

  72. 72. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd, ” …This is a strange situation in which the “mind” thinks it has a body different from the matter which supports it..”
    Now we are communicating…

  73. 73. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee: Thank you, I’ll have a look. I would also be interested in your manuscript.

    Peter, I would appreciate if you could let Kar Lee have my e-mail off-line, thank you in advance.

  74. 74. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: What are #69 and #70 referring to? Did I miss something?

  75. 75. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: OK, It’s #56. I thought I had answered that. Sorry.

    Feeling sad is a matter of having sensors that report body/social conditions below acceptable levels. The cause could be a major loss or whatever. But first, the sensor’s report would be evaluated according to a situation database of some sort. That being found below acceptability, some sort of status control would be triggered.

    Now I must admit that I find it hard to think of conditions under which sadness would be the appropriate response for your average mechanical device. As I said sometime back. sadness is basically a social response and I have no idea what a society of machines might be like.

    So I admit it’s tough to answer your question beyond what I had said already.

  76. 76. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: I thought #41 had answered the question.

  77. 77. Lloyd Rice says:

    My point in #41 was that there are two issues here which need to be separated: The cause for a feeling and how that feeling gets realized. You gave me an example which has an extremely improbable cause, then complained because I did not come up with a realization.

    Can we get down to what the real questions are?

  78. 78. Doru says:

    My revelation is that Denett made Christianity more real than most of the evangelicals. Same applies for qualia and most of the explanations here.

  79. 79. 108th Philosopher’s Carnival « Philosophy Sucks! says:

    [...] Over at Conscious Entities Peter discusses Justin Sytsma’s recent JCS paper in Skeptical Folk Theory Theory Theory [...]

  80. 80. Burt says:

    I’d say that Allen[12] has it nailed.

    An aside anent Daniel Dennett:

    When I saw Dennett speak on his “Breaking the Spell” book tour, I was hugely disappointed in his inability to support his thesis. He was inarticulate and unimaginative. He couldn’t imagine that a rhinovirus could possibly serve any purpose, and had no raison d’être. These scraps of RNA strengthen immune systems, allow us to beg off work with a legitimate excuse etc. I could go on but why?

  81. 81. Mike Spenard says:

    @Vicente
    “”Lloyd: “Similar signals constitute the “qualia” for sound and touch stimuli, including pain”

    Please, tell me one single parameter or characteristic of those signals that ressembles or has anything to do with a color or any other qualia, including pain. Anything in those signal you could think of.”

    How about three? (1) The number of hues we can experience, (2)the opponency of some colors (no redish greens etc), (3) and how yellow is the brightest and most understaturated hue?

    Color Opponency: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_opponency
    We have six unique hues: red, green, yellow, blue, black and white. And the inability to experience a greenish red, or bluish yellow. Both of these are phenomenal aspects, i.e. ‘I can experience 6 unique hues’ and ‘I cannot experience a greenish red’ are subjective statements about the “phenomenal” aspects of color. And Opponency theory, which fits within an information and signal processing framework, explains why this is so. “I experience yellow as the brightest, but most unsaturated color” is also a subjective phenomenal aspect explained by this (Hardin 1988, 1992).

  82. 82. Vicente says:

    Mike:

    How about three? (1) The number of hues we can experience, (2)the opponency of some colors (no redish greens etc), (3) and how yellow is the brightest and most understaturated hue?

    It is evident to me that there is a “relation” between brain states and mind states, and you perfectly pointed it out in your comment.

    The thing is that none of you 3 points RESSEMBLES at all phenomenal experience, despite they are RELATED to it.

    What you call yellow, is just an EM frequency or a spiking rate or a chemical concentration, at brain side, and that does not ressemble at all yellow color.

  83. 83. Mike Spenard says:

    They do resemble, the question is if they are isomorphic. ‘I cannot experience a redish green or greenish red.’ is certainly a statement about my mental life; and it makes a statement about an opponency in my experiences of color. The personal opponency reported mirrors the opponency found in the visual system. But is it more then mirroring but isomorphic? What would that satisfy the condition for you? Or are you so sure of there not being a complete isomorphism that you feel it’s ok to operate without formalizing what would satisfy the condition?

    Even if the neural oppenency fails a test of being isomorphic with opponency of color qualia one thing cannot be denied; objective science has explain why a set of subjective experience are experienced in the way they are for us. And this was once thought impossible. Subsequently, the important point becomes that the characteristics and relationships of colors depend upon their biological substrate, and we delude ourselves if we suppose it possible systematically to understand the relations colors bear to each other in isolation from that substrate. And this bears down on how we should cast our mold for what is isomorphic.

    The difficulty is that the mode or logic of speech used to describe personal level phenomena is inherently different then subpersonal phenomena. It’s never going to strike the ear in a way that fully mitigates the qualms of our intuitions. Asking for an explanation of personal experiences using only the terms of personal language is obviously facetious–especially when we know full well that our autopsychology is so limited–but this seems to be the dogma many people have entrenched themselves in when asking others to answers questions like (1), (2) and (3). The more I heard about qualia the more apparent it becomes that the bifurcation is only ostensive in how we speak.

  84. 84. Vicente says:

    Mike:

    isomorhic: means that there exists a proportionate relation beteween the geometry (extend the concept…) of two figures, spaces, etc… and I agree that we could somehow establish an isomorphism between brain states and mind states. e.g: the brightness of a certain color experienced is directly proporcionate to some physiological parameter (concentration of a certain neurotransmitter in a certain node of the visual cortex, to say something). But the point is that the nature of the physiology of the brain has nothing to do with the nature of colors, there is just a relation, that is for me the binding problem.

    “objective science has explain why a set of subjective experience are experienced”

    I wish. Objective science is currently finding the relations we were talking about. The moment we get subjective phenomenal experience in the lab, in this field it is unavoidable, I am not sure objectivity is preserved altogether, we have to live with that.

    “The more I heard about qualia the more apparent it becomes that the bifurcation is only ostensive in how we speak.”

    Then, since you think the bifurcation is just an illusory language side effect, I am going to make you my favorite question. Where are qualia?

  85. 85. Mike Spenard says:

    Vicente:

    I meant to use isomorphic in that sense as two things having the same conceptual form, to the degree that we can say we are talking of the same thing. I apologize if my use was to unorthodox.

    “Where are qualia?”

    Well, I’m obviously no proponent of qualia. I think asking “where” is malformed, and is brought about by asking a question framed in the personal level, and then asking physicalists for an answer framed at the subpersonal level as if ex hypothesi to admit a difference in the level of description is to admit defeat. Its a rigged game. No one will ever properly answer such malformed question because of this. This is the same error Leibniz made with his mill.

    However, I still think the question is still worth asking, we can learn a lot about ourselves through the process; there being two staunch camps on this qualia issue has something to tell us in itself. (Perhaps Sapir-Whorf theory [language shaping cognitive structure], in conjunction with my point above on language, has a point on why there are two camps.)

    “When a general term occurs predicatively alongside a name, the sentence thus formed will be seen by such a person as ‘about’ not just the named object, but the named object and an attribute symbolized by the general term. […] A word can prove useful in such positions as to favor the assumption of objects for it to be true of, without thereby favoring the assumption of objects related to it in other ways.“ (Quine) We are wired to think in terms of bodies and objects, and to think of them as the fundamental forms by which all of our knowledge must fit. As Quine has said, we are “body-minded”. And yet, the attempt to escape this intuition is not to suggest we detour from the physical and public sciences.
    Ayer expands on this point:

    “It happens to be the case that we cannot, in our language, refer to the sensible properties of a thing without introducing a word or phrase which appears to stand for the thing itself as opposed to anything which may be said about it. And, as a result of this, those who are infected with the primitive superstition that to every name a single real entity must correspond assume that it is necessary to distinguish logically between the thing itself and any, or all, of its sensible properties. And so they employ the term “substance” to refer to the thing itself. But from the fact that we happen to employ a single word to refer to a thing, and make that word the grammatical subject of the sentences in which we refer to the sensible appearances of the thing, it does not by any means follow that the thing itself is a “simple entity”, or that it cannot be defined in terms of the totality of its appearances. It is true that in talking of “its” appearances we appear to distinguish the thing from the appearances, but that is simply an accident of linguistic usage. Logical analysis shows that what makes these “appearances” the “appearances of” the same thing is not their relationship to an entity other than themselves, but their relationship to one another.”

    Personally, just to stop talking about polemical (and I would add unverified) qualia, I like to talk about Benham’s Top. When you spin the black and white disk, and see green, “Where is the green?”. I still think this is erroneous, its playing into our insufferable urge to have to treat everything as an object (physical or a “sensible object” that we intuit). But it meets the two camps half way: were talking about a real and verifiable disc, and we can’t say the ‘greenness’ is on the disc surface; spinning black and white ink doesn’t make it green ink. Anyhow, I need to cut this short; and I owe you a proper explanation of where the ‘greenness’ is on a Benham Disk. But, the program of reification called ‘qualia’ will be the elan vital of the 20th century and is no way to go about answering this question.

  86. 86. Vicente says:

    “When you spin the black and white disk, and see green, “Where is the green?”

    Very good point, you see, this like many other (so called) optical illusions, (according to your Benham’s top, the question would be, what illusion?) shows that the phenomenal experience is a construction, build upon data provided by senses, memory and other brain artifacts.

    The point is that there is no black and white in the first place… all that is a mind construction, so when the thing is spinning, for some strange effect resulting from the way the retina is stimulated by the reflected light, you get a response similar to the one you get when stimulating with “green” light.

    You need to look for explanation in two places:

    To understand the properties of the reflected light. There must be a reflection pattern. Does the perceived color depend on the spinning speed of the top?

    To understand the response of the visual system to that light.

    To show it is equivalent to green light stimulation.

    So green is the realm of qualia, as all other colors, but where is that? recalling #11, this is not only for colors.

    choose a small square area of the image you have now in your mind (eg: the “d” of mind), now give me the approximate coordinates (cartesian in meters)of the centre of that area. You can take the tip of your nose as coordinates origin if you want to.

  87. 87. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: My point in saying that the signals are synthesized in the brain is exactly that the resulting qualia do not resemble anything else. The workspace manager interprets the signals as unique indicators of the perceptual conditions which generated them and can thus use the information correctly in determining motor activity. As Dennett might say, what you “see” as qualia are only the side effects of that motor activity process.

  88. 88. Lloyd Rice says:

    As for the proper dimensionality of the information at various stages of visual processing, I must admit that I have not adequately absorbed the vast literature on the topic.

  89. 89. Vicente says:

    Well, it is obvious that the response is equivalent, but the underlying physiological mechanisms could be very different.

    Actually I find that top and similar devices extremely useful for color perception studies.

    I am thinking that Doppler effect is somehow similar, but in this case the explanation is known… you have a color shift, or sound pitch shift due to relative movement… but the top case is quite bizarre huh

  90. 90. Vicente says:

    “what you “see” as qualia are only the side effects of that motor ctivity process.”

    Lloyd, sorry to say, but it is sort of dodgy statement…

  91. 91. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: Yes, I agree that there are a number of perceptual operations which act on the cone activations before they get to the level that I would call the “final” perceptual results. The entire field of psych illusions, including the “top” effect reveals details of this type.

    “A dodgy statement???” You don’t expect me to be absolutely clear about a matter that has stymied philosophers for 2000 years, do you? I’m saying it as best I know how.

  92. 92. Lloyd Rice says:

    The best I can do for now is the idea of a separate POVP layer as I discussed in Lloyd[68]. Exactly how it works, I do not (yet) know.

  93. 93. Vicente says:

    No excuses Lloyd, that only makes clear that we have had 20 centuries of dodgy philosophers, but here we are to clarify the whole issue once and forever.

    “which act on the cone activations”

    Don’t you think that the complex image analysis processes that take place beyond the retina stage are better candidates to explain psych illusions, rather than retina stimulation processes… just a question. So basically the input is so tricky that the software produces these anomalous perceptions. I have been looking at the top effect a bit, and the fact of colors appearing is really weird, it is not like other effects, in which somehow I sort of understand that models based in neuron overstimulation, and some nucleii getting exhausted etc can explain the illusion, this one with the color appearing is very strange.

  94. 94. Mike Spenard says:

    Just gonna jump in here again real quick again… 93 comments, whew.

    Benham’s Top and other color illusions like the ones done by Akiyoshi Kitaoka (which are fantastic) stop being so strange when we remember that the visual system was engineered to be color constant (its job is to “code” objects[1]), rather than be spectrally analytic. And the classification of objects by color depends quite as much on the operating characteristics of the visual system as on the physical properties of the objects.

    I still owe Vicente that explanation; but part of it is that colors are complex lock & key phenomena; rather like “molecular complementarity” conceptually; that is to say that ‘greenness’ is a pairing up between spectral properties xyz of an object and visual system type k; and the features that are paired are of a complex and multidimensional nature (I don’t mean that in the physicists sense of the word).

    Colors are rather like social constructs. E.g. Alaska. Does Alaska exist? We’d all be quick to say “yes!”. But, if we flew to the furthest northwest point in the Americas we couldn’t touch it or put it under a microscope. We’d only be able to touch the people, lakes, trees etc of Alaska. This is my point on when you aren’t careful with language and you let the levels of description become tangled up.

    Anyhow, sorry for the terse intermittent comments.

    [1] To make object vs background contrast greater, and increase object vs object discernments; see http://www.springerlink.com/content/p01lm1153q35j362/

  95. 95. Mike Spenard says:

    Forgot to add on the Alaska point: It would obviously be silly to say that we need to posit a para-Alaska or that Alaska is not (when you get down too it) a physical thing; its just a construct social systems riding on top of physical (e.g. geological) features.

  96. 96. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I stated it badly. I meant to say that the neural processes which account for all visual illusions take place somewhere between the cone activations and the formation of the world model in the workspace. I had referred to this entire processing sequence as “perceptual processing”.

    The POVP layer, which I place after the world model structure, does use some information directly from the perceptual processing sequence, but in general, reformats the applicable world model info to correspond with the organism’s current point of view.

    In fact, I am as intrigued by the “moving spot color change” as by the spinning top color effects. But there is no denying that some perceptual alterations are surprising.

    Mike: I agree fully with your comments. All clarifications are appreciated.

    “Clarify the whole issue once and forever …”? I would like nothing better.

  97. 97. Lloyd Rice says:

    Actually, I believe I could slightly narrow the broad range I included in #96. I believe that most visual processing occurs after the thalamic relay synapses. So is “thalamic relays” any easier to say than “cone activations”? Color processing seems to occur mostly in the medial temporal gyrus, while other image “alterations” occur in various places in the occipital, parietal and temporal lobes.

    As you may have gathered, I find it at least as interesting and informative to pin down where in the brain things happen as what are the processing details.

  98. 98. Lloyd Rice says:

    Although the preliminaries for region and edge detection clearly happen immediately in the retina.

  99. 100. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re: “2+2 make rain”, John[40,46,56], Lloyd[41,51,..], Mike[94,95] also relevant: I just read Paul Almond’s paper (http://paul-almond.com/SearleEmergentProperties.pdf) on Searle’s argument about wetness and consciousness. Not being so much of philosophical habits, I found it difficult to follow Almond’s “wetness-b” argument until I thought, “Well, just what is wetness, anyway”. It is only a matter of surface tension and the skin’s response to being in contact with certain materials have certain degrees of surface tension.

    With this thought in mind, the next thought was that this “wetness” is going to require its own special perceptual signal. The only question of interest then is what range of stimuli on the skin will trigger that signal. It was then much easier for me to contemplate a range of stimuli which might trigger the signal. “Wetness-b” is perhaps not so far out after all.

    I understand that this is not the train of thought that Almond has followed. But I found it helped.

  100. 101. Lloyd Rice says:

    In #44 I listed a range of haptic signals. What I am saying is that “wetness” gets added to that list.

  101. 102. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: It is quite simple: wetness is directly related to the amount of water or other liquids interacting with the skin. b-wetness is nothing at all.

  102. 103. Mike Spenard says:

    Searle’s stuff about qualia being an emergent property of neurophysiology (what he calls “consciousness fields”) is really hand waving. And here is why:

    In an effort to avoid dualism–and to take the edge off of the axiomatic nature of qualia as he defines it–Searle invokes a special mode of causation known in science as ‘the principle of emergence’. He argues that brain processes do indeed cause qualia but to assume the normal mode of causation by which A causes B, with A and B being two different things or events, is a false assumption. And while many types of causation are of that nature we have a second mode of causation by which micro-particles or structures cause higher level macro-phenomenon that cannot be understood by studying the lower level micro particles discreetly (Searle 1984 etc).

    For example, the liquidity of water is a phenomenon that arises from the interaction and chemical bonds of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, and liquidity cannot be understood by merely studying the properties of hydrogen and oxygen discreetly. An emergent property of a system is one that is causally explained by the behavior of the elements of the system; but it is not a property of any individual elements and it cannot be explained simply as a summation of the properties of those elements. The macro-features of H2O are causally explained by the behavior of elements at the micro-level and like liquidity qualia is just an emergent feature of the brain. And at the same time we accept that the surface phenomena just are features of the very systems in question (Searle 1997:p7, 1984:p21).

    “I want to suggest this provides a perfectly ordinary model for explaining the puzzling relationships between the mind and the brain.” ~Searle 1984

    However, upon closer inspection, several inconsistencies, double standards and assumptions arise. Liquids are reducible to their constituent elements through methods such as electrolysis. Searle not only fails to provide a scientific method of reducing qualia to its constituent elements he denies its very reducibility. If we are to take his analogy with water and emergence seriously this assumption must fall. An additional peculiarity–and what is the start of a much more serious assumption–can be subtly seen when Searle states that qualia is a “surface feature” of the cumulative effects of the brain. The surface feature of liquidity, caused by the micro level elements of hydrogen and oxygen, is a phenomenon that exists independently of any individual scientist or subject. To use Searle’s terminology: liquidity has an objective ontology. Both the lower level micro-elements of water and the higher level macro phenomena of liquidity have objective ontology. Furthermore, (and this is the critical oversight) emergence of the higher level phenomena of liquidity from lower level elements requires no crossing of ontology, as they are both ontologically objective. However, when dealing with qualia and the brain Searle denies they are of the same ontological nature, and that some bridging principle is needed between the subjective ontology of qualia and the objective ontology of the brain: emergence. Yet, there is no known scientific evidence supporting the principle of emergence across subjective and objective ontology.

    By assuming that the principle of emergence can generate higher level phenomena of a subjective ontology, i.e. qualia, from lower elements of an objective ontology, i.e. neurons, he assumes in the principle of emergence that which he set out to explain with its usage. And, any advocacy of a controversial position should avoid having to defend the initial position (qualia & “consciousness fields”) by appealing to another that is as controversial (emergence from objective to subjective ontology).

    Am I the only one that sees this as a problem?

  103. 104. Burt says:

    Vicente,

    You ask: “Where are qualia?”

    Qualia exist in 2 non-physical locations:

    1.) The individual’s consciousness in quasi state memory patterns created by the gestalt of consciousness that maintains each personality and its personal reality. Qualia are learned and reinforced by rote in feed back loops from interactions with secondary personalities who are creations of the primary personality.

    2.) They also exist in the mass consciousness gestalt in a loose consensus e.g., the majority agrees that the perception or idea of some quale comports with their memory of that quale (usually with a label) as created and reinforced or modified by each experience involving that quale which has its origin in location 1.).

  104. 105. Anonymous says:

    “Secondary and primary personalities”… someone’s been hitting the Freud bong again. Ego theory, i.e. the idea that conscious agency must have countable “central meaners” will always commit one to the homuncular fallacy. This sort of garbage is like Intelligent Design… not even worth arguing over anymore.

  105. 106. Mike Spenard says:

    Woops [#105] was my post. And since I shouldn’t just state Dualism (Burt did say “non-physical locations”) and “Ego is dead” [knuck-knuck] without putting something behind the claim:

    http://www.memeoid.net/books/Spenard/Spenard-Dueling_with%20Dualism-DRAFT.pdf

    …there are several lessons, I think, for qualia here too. Pardon any grammatical mistakes, it’s a draft.

  106. 107. Kar Lee says:

    Mike[103], you are right on.

  107. 108. Kar Lee says:

    Mike [106], I read your article with great interest. It is a very well written piece of article. I think these are the points the we both agree:
    1)Conceivability does not provide real proof
    2)There is an interaction problem, and it is a real problem for Cartesian dualists.
    3)If the mind really is a thing, it cannot have a location or other physical attributes because it is supposed to be non-physical.
    4)Misappropriations of language is definitely a problem in this business of philosophy of mind discussion.

    So, in your view, what is a mind? What is your definition of consciousness? We seem to be using the same words. But I am afraid ultimately we are talking about different things. Since you are writing about the mind, you must be interested in and puzzled by the consciousness phenomenon. But what is it that has attracted you to write about it? What is the puzzle? What is the target of explanation? (or philosophically it is a non-problem for you?) Do you think you can definite what you mean by the “mind” and “consciousness” that you refer to in your article in words (a repeat of the question above)?

    I wanted to launch into long discussion on some other points in your article, but I may be barking up the wrong tree. Once I understand more on what you mean by these two words (mind and consciousness), I will be in a better position to write more.

  108. 109. Vicente says:

    Burt: I admit I am not able to digest #104, mainly because it is full of words and concepts pointing to void (also maybe due to my own thickness). Could you please ellaborate a bit on:

    – quasi state memory patterns??
    – gestalt of consciousness ??
    – rote in feed back loops from interactions with secondary personalities who are creations of the primary personality??

    (since secondary personalities are created by primary one, why to get feedback from them? or: if you are a secondary personality created by me why am I asking you anything?)

    – mass consciousness gestalt ??
    – the majority agrees ?? (¿¿!!??)

  109. 110. Vicente says:

    Mike: I agree with you (#103) very much. Still there is something I would like to comment. When we think of a property as emergent we usually think it goes beyond the properties of its constituent elements, eg: a molecule properties sometimes cannot be explained only on the basis of the properties of its atoms (I am looking for the ref of a very good paper I know on this topic) or an ants colony behaviour cannot be explained only as the contributions to it of its individual ants, there are some new properties beyond that simple addition. Is this “new” property that makes the concept of “emergent property” meaningful, otherwise it is just a simple addition result. How this fits in Searle’s approach, I don’t know, maybe you can tell me, since it seems you have really reflected on the issue.

    I consider myself close to dualism, but I have discarded “emergency” as a possible mechanism to explain consciousness. For that reason I am quite focused now in the binding problem. As I see it, there are two independent qualities that interact (I am aware of all the logical and physical problems that such an interaction entails).

    I also share Kar Lee’s concerns.

  110. 111. Mike Spenard says:

    Kar [107]

    Thanks Kar, glad it was of interesting. It’s wholly unoriginal, but hopefully more comprehensive then the usual critique. I need to add a few more points within it; specifically that the large scale redundancy and parallelism of the CNS will do away with random quantum effects at the macro (or should I bet saying “emergent” level).

    Also, we have known since Lettvin’s seminal work, at the level of neurophysiology, with “receptive fiends” that the eye is not a camera shuttling off a point-by-point representation of the world (“sensation” in the sophisticated sense) to then be interpreted in the mind (“sensation” in the unsophisticated sense). The retina is an extruded part of the brain and the interpretation starts as soon as a photon impinges upon us (Lettvin et al. 1959; pp.235-9, 255-7):

    “The connections are such that there is a synaptic path from a rod or cone to a great many thousand receptors. Clearly, such an arrangement would not allow for good resolution were the retina meant to map an image in terms of light intensity point by point into a distribution of excitement in the optic nerve. […] These findings by Hartline and Barlow establish that optic nerve fibers (the axons of the ganglion cells) do not transmit information only about light intensity at single points in the retina. Rather, each fiber measures a certain feature of the whole distribution of light in an area of the receptive field. […] it shows that the eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted, instead of transmitting some more or less accurate copy of the distribution of light on the receptors. […] when one inspects responses that are a few nervous transformations removed from the receptors, as in the optic nerve, that same choice of stimulus is difficult to defend. It is equivalent to assuming that all of the interpretation is done further on in the nervous system. But, as we have seen, this is false. […] The operations [performed by the retina] thus have much more the flavor of perception than of sensation, if that distinction has any meaning now.”

    And the very fact that our interpretation of the world starts at the periphery and base level of our nervous system shows that there are important aspects to our phenomenal experience that are not fully accessible to introspection. Colors are indeed epistemic icebergs, but the concealed part is within rather than without the perceiving animal.

    Lettvin’s findings have bearing on so many of the issues we are trying to tackle (“qualia, mental causation and “intentionality”). It’s really one of the most important discoveries in Cog.Sci. I feel.

    We cannot point to a place in the CNS and say definitively that this neuron ‘here’ is where afferent processes turn into efferent processes. Like when we speak of vvon neumann architecture (pardon my pathetic ascii art skills!):

    [Keyboard]—(input)—>[CPU]—(output)—>[Monitor]

    rather:

    Ok, I can’t ascii art a neural net. But you should get the point.

    . . .

    [108]
    “So, in your view, what is a mind? What is your definition of consciousness? We seem to be using the same words. But I am afraid ultimately we are talking about different things. Since you are writing about the mind, you must be interested in and puzzled by the consciousness phenomenon. But what is it that has attracted you to write about it? What is the puzzle? What is the target of explanation? (or philosophically it is a non-problem for you?) Do you think you can definite what you mean by the “mind” and “consciousness” that you refer to in your article in words (a repeat of the question above)? ”

    You’ve asked a lot important non-trivial questions. And each deserves a circumspect answer on their own. And answering each of them properly is a little beyond the scope of blog posts however. That being said… “Consciousness” is a word I use to describe the complex level of involvement I have with the world, the real one, nothing more nothing less. The puzzle is whether or not that when we “carve off” various aspects of this “complex involvement”, and explain it objectively (see my posts[#81] on Color Opponency), if we are still talking about the same thing; I think so. That’s my basic modus operandi. And the philosophical project is to show how we are still talking about the same thing of course, and deal with intuitions that have been royally screwing up this project for the last 3000 years (if Julian Jaynes is right heh).

    Also, I think we have one word ‘awareness’ to describe two kinds of awareness (Dennett 1969). Consider this question (and notice the similarity with my point on Alaska[#84], and my point on the issues with our language):

    (1) “When a bee swerves around a tree is it aware of the tree?”

    It one sense, we would surely say “yes!”; the bee adjusted its course around the tree so it must of see it and been aware of it. But, in another sense, the bee has no concept of what a tree is, i.e., no conceptual awareness.

    Now consider:

    (2) A person that drives for miles on end, and when we ask the person if they were aware of those miles they would honestly say “No. I don’t recall them, I must not have been aware at the time because of the talk show on the radio.”

    He does not recall what happened. Was that person “aware” of that driving? Yet, like the bee, the person didn’t go driving off the road, he made turns and adjusted the car; so he must of been aware at some level.

    I think this second sort of awareness is what happens when neural activity that we would normally categorize as being “unconscious”, “bee like” or like a tropism etc., reaches linguistic areas of the brain. Or doesn’t, as in the case of our driver who was linguistically engaged with the radio or passenger.

    Also, I do not mean to imply any sort of strong bifurcation here. We probably display “proto-linguistic” behaviors that fall someplace in the middle. Anyhow, this is getting long.

  111. 112. Mike Spenard says:

    “receptive fiends” LOL OOPS! “feilds’!

  112. 113. Mike Spenard says:

    “We probably display “proto-linguistic” behaviors that fall someplace in the middle. ”

    For example, perhaps utterances that have prosody but no semantic content, e.g., *sigh*. And sleep is probably an example where mostly proto-linguistic processes take place; and where, paradigmatically, few if any explicitly afferent or efferent processes are communicated with linguistic areas of the brain; at that this isolation and “ungrounding” makes dreams rather proto-liguistic and full of confabulation

  113. 114. Mike Spenard says:

    Vicente[#110]

    “Is this “new” property that makes the concept of “emergent property” meaningful, otherwise it is just a simple addition result. How this fits in Searle’s approach, I don’t know, maybe you can tell me, since it seems you have really reflected on the issue.”

    Searle is attempting to use it in a circular way: by referencing “normal” objobj ontology emergence (as used in chemistry etc.), postulating that there is some “special” objsub emergence; and then relying on examples of “normal” emergence to argue that emergence can in /general/ show how we can use the principle to solve the subjective-object / mind-body gap. [#103] still puts this point best I guess.

    It’s disappointing. Searle is a smart guy. And I rather like reading his books and listening to his lectures, they are enjoyable. But this is clearly hand waving to hid the fact that he has no theory to support his “consciousness fields” bull and wave off critics who accuse him of being a Dualist.

    He’s, to coin a term, an Obfuscation Dualist.

    Emergence is a good idea. It can be put to some really good explanatory and conceptual uses. Its frustrating as hell to see him confuse and misuse the principle to high hell, so that others (like yourself and myself) can make use of “normal” emergence without having to clear peoples heads of Searle’s fog.

  114. 115. Kar Lee says:

    Mike[111],
    “..Consciousness” is a word I use to describe the complex level of involvement I have with the world, the real one, nothing more nothing less. …”
    I am glad that you define it in terms of you instead of attempting a third person definition. This part I am with you. However, the “complex” involvement part is something I am not too clear about. Maybe it is where our definitions diverge. To me, my involvement with the world is the target of explanation, just like yours. But the complexity is never an issue. I typically consider consciousness (mine consciousness) a boolean variable, either is it on or it is off. If I am half conscious (normal usage of the words), I am conscious, and qualia exist for me. Even if I am an infant, a complete feeling being instead of a thinking being, I will still consider that stage conscious. If somehow I can explain my involvement with this world in this particular era (20th/21st century), complex or not, I will have achieved my goal. Complexity is really secondary in my pursuit. But it looks like yours is somewhat different: You want to understand the complexity in terms of objectivity, and the existence of the involvement seems to be secondary, or is assumed. If my understanding is correct, then you will naturally take the path of neuroscience, which does give you the details of your involvement with the world, once the involvement is assumed. My focus is on the explaining of the involvement itself, the assumption itself, so to speak. However, you may be thinking that that you can come back to deal with the assumption once you have the complexity part taken care of, which is not an invalid approach.

    So, how will you “carve off” some aspect of your involvement? (I am asking this question using the view of a dualist). And what real experiments and thought experiments will you propose?

  115. 116. Mike Spenard says:

    Karl[115]
    “Maybe it is where our definitions diverge. … But the complexity is never an issue. I typically consider consciousness (mine consciousness) a boolean variable, either is it on or it is off. ”

    Right, I would have to disagree here. I feel it would necessitate a finish line, which would eventually commit oneself to the homuncular fallacy. It also wouldn’t fit in with what we know from biology. That there are always transitional forms, because ANY biological phenomena is only an element out of a continuum of variation. That is, if right now a human is capable of “ON” at some point there must of been an ancestor only capable of proto-ON.

    Quickly on the complexity point… have you read Dennett’s “True Believers” (Intentional Stance p.30) where he talks about the beliefs of a thermostat vs. human beliefs?
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7355069/Dennett-True-Believers-The-Intentional-Strategy-and-Why-It-Works

    I’ll address the rest in the AM ;)

  116. 117. Kar Lee says:

    Mike,
    On “…the bee has no concept of what a tree is…”, I think this statement is an assumption, not a verifiable fact. On the other hand, I can verify my own experience of not knowing what my fingers are doing when I am typing fast.

    Just like the example of a driver not aware of the road he just traveled shows, unconscious living should be possible. I call that the zombie moment.

    Imagine someone who sleepwalks (dreamless type) through his entire life. If this person never wakes up until his death, then this person has not lived his life at all. This situation also poses a very interesting question: We can recognize a sleepwalking state simply because there is a transition at the end when a person “wakes up” and turns back to “normal”. But if no sleepwalking person ever “wakes up” and they are born that way, all we can tell is there are two types of brains (or states), shouldn’t both types be considered normal? There may be behavioral differences but there may be not. Since sleepwalkers are known to be able to do complex tasks (cooking, driving a car, etc), if we imagine the extreme, when a sleepwalker does everything “normally”, and never wakes up, and die of old age at the end, this is a human zombie right there. We can imagine this happening because we can imagine ourselves inside a dreamless sleepwalking state and that takes care of the definition of the unconscious part. However, if we try to explain this to a tribe of people (or Marsians) who never go to sleep and have no concept of losing consciousness during sleep, one will have great difficulty getting the idea of the possible existence of sleepwalking unconscious people across. So, even though consciousness is so difficult to define, we have no problem defining it in this situation because we all know “what it is like” to be sleeping. Our ability to imagine it makes the definition possible.

    This is linked to the question Julian Jaynes wanted to answer in his bicameralism approach: Because of brain difference, there existed a race of human who were simply automata, unconscious sleepwalkers. At some point, the brain changed enough and they (or their offsprings) woke up and became conscious humans.

    However, it does not address the question I am seeking: Granted all these neurology and change in brain physiology stuff, why am I involved in this world at all? This is a fundamentally different question than the conscious/unconscious discussions within neuroscience.

    For this, I believe you and I are trying to address different problems.

    More importantly, dualism addresses my type of problems, and it does not address the kind of problems you are pursuing.

  117. 118. Vicente says:

    Kar Lee, when you question yourself about your involvement in this world, what kind of involvement are you refering to: intelectual, moral, for survival…

    When I think of involvement I can’t help recalling Kierkegaard’s understanding of man: “…doomed to this world, toy of absurd forces and facing death…”.

    Then, about the third person approach and the homunculus, why can’t you make it first person? It is “you” (first person) what you call
    the third person, and then, add the rest as you like. The homuncular fallacy, looks a fallacy mainly because it is put accross in a childish fashion, forget about the homunculus and just think of the mind.

    Then Kar Lee, your view of the Universal Mind with CPU and the programmes running, at the end of the day falls in the homunculi thing, just call the programmes homunculi, something has to interprete the programmes output, or not.

    I just don’t know how to connect “something” to the brain, with the constraint of having individual minds, and not to fall in the cartesian theatre… The only way to me is to somehow follow Plato, and have a pure intellectual world of concepts, to avoid needing a homunculus with a mind and get in the infinite recursion. I mean that the screen, the image and the interpretation of the image become one single thing. I require the phenomenal experience to be seamless, pure intellect… but then, how are different minds separated?

    Mike: “That is, if right now a human is capable of “ON” at some point there must of been an ancestor only capable of proto-ON.”

    Well, if anything IS now, it is because it was previously possible. So if biology wants to call the feasibility of a trait, proto-trait, very well.

    “continuum of variation”, I suppose it all depends on how we understand continuity, if it is just that we can trace back the origin of the present scenario, then fine. Correct me if I am wrong, but a genetical mutation is a dis-continuity by definition. Now, could it be that a mutation leads to a significantly (in functional terms) new fenotype, so that some feature of the nervous system that is necessary for consciousness appears, leading to conscious beings in a discontinous way.

  118. 119. Vicente says:

    Mike:

    As I see it, emergence fits in the model, if you consider that at a certain point of nervous system increasing complexity, there was a new and unpredictable emerging capacity to support conscious experience. For example at a certain point the CNS architecture could run Global Workspace Models. But consciousness itself is not the emerging result. Emergence only applies to the neurological substrate that enables the conscious experience, that was already existing (somehow, somewhere). I would say, that maybe the emerging property is the brain feature that enables interfacing to consciosness.

  119. 120. Vicente says:

    Although, it is true that the emergent property cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts and has to be unpredictable, it still has a clear relationship with its origin. This is not the case of consciousness, in which the only relationship would be a mapping of mind and brain states, different in nature.

  120. 121. Mike Spenard says:

    Karl:

    “Our ability to imagine it makes the definition possible.” and, to summarize, ‘ignoring all of the physical aspects why am I involved with the world?’

    That’s a “conceivability argument”. You are saying p-zeds are possible. And, for the sake of analogy, I’ll say round squares are possible. We both need assurances beyond “I, and those like me, can imagine such”.

    It’s exactly like the position of advocates of elan vital, and I think we can all agree how anachronistic and a waste of time that is.
    As I wrote in my article above:

    Consider a vitalist (someone who believes that the functions of a
    living organism are due to a vital “energy” or principle, known as
    élan vital, which is distinct from biochemical reactions) who argues to a molecular biologist:

    “Those facts about stuff like DNA, amino acids, proteins and cells
    are all very well and nice. However, I can imagine a conception of
    a rabbit capable of protein synthesis, reproduction, metabolism,
    growth and all such mechanical phenomena, but that wasn’t alive
    alive. Sure, your account still gives us a rabbit hopping along, and
    doing all of the various rabbity things rabbits do, but this account you offer us is merely a mechanical rabbit, made of what equates into used pinball machine parts. Your account of life is merely mechanical
    and misses the enduring mysterious essence of what it is to be alive—having élan vital.”

    There is little our molecular biologist can say to such a vitalist beyond pointing out his misapprehension (that what it is to be alive cannot be reduced to any mechanical and physical happenings) cannot be
    used in support or against the account from molecular biology:

    “I’m sorry, but I fail to see the explanatory power of your argument.
    Perhaps this is due to my inability to peer into your introspective
    conceptions on what it really is to be alive—or as you call it,
    élan vital. Unfortunately, just stating that you are able to do so, and make a name up for it, doesn’t cut any mustard. Such imaginative
    conceptions of über-bunnies cannot enlighten us one way or the other on the nature of what it means to be a rabbit; let alone, more generally, what it is to be alive.”

    So yes, I’m not trying to address the problem as you see it. Why would I attempt to explain the phenomena of round-squareness, p-zeds or über-bunnies? And considering this strong dichotomy of “On Off”, which revolves around the idea of p-zeds, has serious issues fitting in with evolutionary biology; we should have serious doubts and reservations about taking it seriously.

  121. 122. Mike Spenard says:

    Vicente[119]:

    I’m all for using the principle of emergence, but properly. If we want to call Alaska an emergent property, OK. But it’s rather rediculous to say the CNS “generates” consciousness or that politics “generates” Alaska as something that isn’t ultimately describable physically. The shift is from the micro to the macro level of description (which as you smartly pointed out, is about the predictabiltiy of macro properties), not objective to subjective ontology.

    This is starting to remind me of Hofstaders points in GEB: wholism vs reductionism: http://media.photobucket.com/image/hofstadter%20holism/orestesmantra/MU.jpg

  122. 123. Kar Lee says:

    Vicente,
    By my involvement with the world, I mean my own existence and the seemingly real interaction between me and the world. The other day, some news outlet had a big headline titled “Now we know why we exist”. It refers to the B-meson decay showing an asymmetry between matter and anti-matter. So, there is matter left over to make the world after all antimatter is neutralized. The logic of the title is matter’s existence lead to cosmological evolution, lead to synthesis of organic matter, lead to the existence of life, lead to the existence of human, and lead to the existence of “us”. Well, the last statement is a leap of extraordinary magnitude. Even though humans exist, it will not logically follow that I exist, or you exist. I can be pretty sure if we limit the discussion to before the time the author was born, the existence of human kind had nothing to do with the existence of the article author at that point, because the author did not even exist. If I were the author, I would really be puzzled by what caused my existence which is the pre-requisite of me writing that article, given the fact that humankind exist. That is what I mean by my involvement, a simple being.

  123. 124. Burt says:

    @Mike Spenard[105-106]
    Primary and secondary personalities have nothing to do with Freud’s tripartite theory of self. I like William James’ characterization of Freud as a fanatic but that’s neither here nor there. The primary personality is the self (id, ego, super ego et al. a trivial and crude model at best) and all other entities secondary personalities as they (to the primary personality) are products of its imagination.

    I take exception to your “garbage” characterization, and dismissal of ideas with which you disagree. Intelligent design as creationism in sheep’s clothing is one thing (I call it a Just So Story, along with creationism and evolutionary theory) but a valid proposition from a consciousness manifestation POV – no homunculi required. If you do not care to argue about dualism, then don’t – after all it’s only opinion.

    One’s physical body doesn’t create its personality – the personality creates ones physical body. Your body and brain are the focal point of your consciousness and it balances between physical and non-physical reality. I assume from your writing you are a physicalist or a naïve realist so I don’t expect you to seriously entertain the idea of abstract reality beyond that which physics and your personal beliefs cannot presently detect or allow (although Quantum Physics is making progress.)

    That which doesn’t comport with one’s belief system is generally ignored or rejected out of hand as garbage but unless one branches out beyond preconception, one is relegated to his personal blind alley.

  124. 125. Burt says:

    Vicente[109]
    The void pointer is a function of your belief system, not thickness. I will try to give you an explanation of the terms you requested:

    “quasi state memory patterns:”

    Memories exist in patterns – not in the brain but in the consciousness of the personality. One will not find memories encoded in a neural network or brain location (the reductionist view that by damaging certain areas of the brain appears to erase memory merely defocuses the lens consciousness employs to recreate the memory.

    It is “quasi” state memory as it is not like a fixed photograph which may be viewed at will and appearing unchanged, (a photo is also changed by viewing as in QM but let’s say it isn’t) I believe you know what state memory means in computer terms and a consciousness’ memories are similar but not fixed. A memory is far more malleable and is recreated fresh at every recall, and the memory of qualia is no exception, and sensory data change with the state of our beliefs and emotions.

    “gestalt of consciousness:”

    Consciousness arranges itself in loosely bounded cooperative groups and operates as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts – kind of emergent but not epiphenomenonal although you could think of it like that. It is more akin using a physical metaphor of the body: Cells arrange into organs, organs into systems into a physical entity and the whole is more than just a collection of cells or subatomic particles.

    “rote in feed back loops from interactions with secondary personalities who are creations of the primary personality??”

    Rote is reinforcement by repetition. When one is shown say a “red” item and another unrelated item that one is also told is red, and it is deduced that the red color is the similarity between all objects designated as “red” then every time one experiences an object that has a red hue or hears the label “red” the “red” quale is reinforced.

    The secondary personalities (your mpther, father, or teacher perhaps) are the ones who first drill the concept of “red” as the distinction that differing items with a similar color label “red” share, which is how the personality trains itself by creating sundry edifiers.

    (since secondary personalities are created by primary one, why to get feedback from them? or: if you are a secondary personality created by me why am I asking you anything?)

    I am a secondary personality created by you as you are a secondary personality created by me. V’s B exists to challenge your ideas of consciousness; B’s V exists as a foil to challenge my ideas of consciousness as well as any other concepts that may result from this exchange. You ask me a question for your purposes/edification of which I am aware of practically nothing as B’s V is relegated to symbols transcribed at Conscious Entities Website and translated into concepts in my consciousness so to me you are entirely my creation (although I believe that you are your own creation as well.)

    “mass consciousness gestalt:”

    Each personality’s gestalt of conscious and the secondary gestalts it creates are all superimposed (entangled) with each other into a mass consciousness gestalt (kind of a super entity feedback system) – it is a Zeitgeist, Tribe, Nation, Culture, Society or Humanity etc., it is the “external world idea construct” a personality perceives/creates when it reacts to/with other entities en masse. The “news” is a good example of a mass reality creation although each personality creates its own “news.”

    “the majority agrees ?? (¿¿!!??)”

    The majority of the personalities one creates in one’s personal reality, share a consensus as to what may be consistently described as “red” or any other quale or agreed upon construct, a small minority for whatever reason may not, as there are those whose reality does not comport with the majority, in extreme cases these are considered mentally challenged and segregated by society (others are just considered eccentric or avoid deleterious interactions.)

  125. 126. Kar Lee says:

    Mike[121], we have not quite yet gotten to the point that we talk passed each other, and that is a good thing. But let me respond to your vital energy example and put a new interpretation on it. I have seen this example being used to show, just like how silly the concept of this immaterial vital force is for life, it is silly to require the concept of an immaterial mind for consciousness as well. My take on this is that people who insisted on the need of this vital force for things to be alive was trying to address a problem which they could not articulate at the time. They equated consciousness, which was what they were trying to account for, with life. They picked up one attribute between life form and themselves, that is “being alive”, and applied the similarity to other aspects of living things, and demanded that those attributes be also satisfied. Ultimately, they were not trying to explain life (which is nothing other than behavior), but consciousness, but they used the wrong phrase. Since they could not imagine themselves being pure mechanical beings, they demanded that life form not be pure mechanical being as well, thus requiring the concept of a vital force. This is my interpretation of what happened.

    If this interpretation is correct (I am quite sure it is correct), then the vital force example is not a good example because once it is stated correctly, its corrected modern version is really the “hard problem”, which is yet to be resolved. I understand that you may include the “hard problem” into your category of those things that screwed up the project for the last 3000 years. But for me, the hard problem is a real problem, completely different from a round square.

    Another example that has been frequently quoted is why a car moves. It was frequently quoted that after being shown the interior machinery of an automobile, some people still ask why the car moves. It is supposed to show that we can account for 100% of a human by physics and biology: “there is nothing left after the last atom is taken away”, so to speak, just like we understand a car, and there really is no need to further ask how/why a car move once you have seen the engine and the wheels. However, the confusion of this example is probably that of the quoter. The person who asks why the car moves is looking for the driver and he found none. Immediately we see that showing him the engine of a car is throwing him a solution of the wrong problem. He is looking for the driver and you show him the engine, and that is not going to help.

    As I keep saying, consciousness is not a third person observable. You won’t see a halo around your friend’s head. Consciousness, unless used in a different way, is a first person phenomenon. It is completely explanatorily irrelevant taking a third person (objective) view. As such, consciousness has no use in evolution, which is essentially an third person (objective) phenomenon. Trying to link evolution to consciousness necessarily means that you are investigating the engine, not the driver. And that to me, is a different problem. A problem worth investigating, a different problem nonetheless.

  126. 127. Vicente says:

    Burt[125]:

    “Memories exist in patterns – not in the brain but in the consciousness of the personality. One will not find memories encoded in a neural network or brain location (the reductionist view that by damaging certain areas of the brain appears to erase memory merely defocuses the lens consciousness employs to recreate the memory.”

    I sort of like the idea, since I am beginning to see the brain as an interface, a transponder between our body and “something else”. It also has auto-pilot functions for the robot (zombie functions). So your view is that the brain uses memory areas/functions, to bring the memory stored somewhere else to other brain areas (language) that need it, is it?

    Probably experimental evidence would contradict that view, particularly because of the way in which, short and long term memory works, of why is it that some memories fade much faster than others… anyway, in another page I asked how “2” is coded/stored in the brain, and nobody answered, I have been looking in the literature myself and have found no answers, considering that the question is quite simple it shows how little we know (me in particular).

    So if the lens cannot focus certain memories any more, what happens to those memories? what is the link then between an individual and its memories?

    Have you got any idea of how does the brain interact with this consciousness mass gestalt? what kind of mechanisms are used? in case you want to retrieve a memory rote in a quasi pattern, what does the brain do?

    Finally, why do I have certain believes and not others? education? culture? genetics?

  127. 128. Vicente says:

    Karl Lee[126]

    “its corrected modern version is really the “hard problem””

    I disagree, when we look for explanations about life, or a car motion, we “know” what we are talking about, we can state the problem in objective terms . Consciousness hard problem is completely different, we are trying to tackle a completely different issue in nature.

    “there is nothing left after the last atom is taken away”,

    there is nothing left long before that, take away a small part of the respiratory centres in the bulb and you’ll see.

  128. 129. Kar Lee says:

    Vicente,
    If someone has been heavily influenced by the Bible “…And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…”, he can hardly separate life from soul. He will naturally demand a vital force to support life. Ultimately, it is the soul he is pursuing. And then, mind, soul, consciousness, etc, is it meaningful to tell them apart? That is why I interpret that as a pursuit of consciousness-like stuff, mistaken to be just life. That demand is no difference from the modern dualist’s demand. That’s why one cannot use one dualist’s approach to demonstrate against a similar dualist’s approach.

  129. 130. Burt says:

    Vicente[25]

    “So your view is that the brain uses memory areas/functions, to bring the memory stored somewhere else to other brain areas (language) that need it, is it?”

    Not exactly, consciousness uses various brain pathways/areas to recreate memories fresh (usually with alterations) every time they are remembered., kind of like a tv set changing channels. If a pathway/area is damaged, either another route is attempted and may be wholly or partially accepted or the memory is not currently useful to the focus that one’s consciousness is creating. Autonomous functions are also mediated by consciousness via the brain/CNS but hardly ever brought into conscious focus in our personalities.

    Long term memories are made long term by rote reinforcement – all memories are charged and weighted by the emotional intensity that the event or recall engendered. That is why some fade and some don’t, short term memory usually lacks the emotional intensity and if not reinforced into long term memory, fades. “2” exists in the same area that qualia and memories occupy (idea space, which is not physical space.) Perhaps Bertrand Russell’s Principia would help you determine the result of 1+1.

    I have to go – I’ll answer the rest later.

  130. 131. Burt says:

    Vicente[127] – I don’t know how – messed up the post#[127] and entered [25] in Burt[130] but here is the continuation.

    “So if the lens cannot focus certain memories any more, what happens to those memories? what is the link then between an individual and its memories?”

    The memories remain in the quasi state in one’s consciousness – one’s access to that pattern may be limited but the memories are still created anew with possibly dramatic alterations. The link is the brain/CNS which is how a personality interfaces with physical and non physical reality.

    “Have you got any idea of how does the brain interact with this consciousness mass gestalt? what kind of mechanisms are used? in case you want to retrieve a memory rote in a quasi pattern, what does the brain do?”

    The brain translates consciousness into concepts, consciousness forms physical reality in accordance with a personality’s belief system which is then focused by the brain into ideas and perceptions. The mass consciousness is to the individual, the sum of all the other consciousnesses, as created by the individual’s perception of the mass gestalt. It usually is better not to focus on the whole as it tends to create fear, is chaotic and only affects a personality to the extent that one chooses to be part of the chaos.

    To retrieve a memory, one creates a mental picture of the situation which simultaneously creates the memory anew from whatever events one believes to have happened. Again “rote’ is a methodology of reinforcing concepts by repetition. I don’t know how the brain does its thing as a tool for consciousness regarding memory recall, at this “now” neither does any one else know for certain.

    “Finally, why do I have certain believes and not others? education? culture? genetics?”

    Beliefs are suppositions that one believes to be true and accepted as if they are true until supplanted by more refined or augmented concepts or contravened by what is considered more rational and discarded until one convinces oneself that the belief is adequate for the nonce. Of course truth is subjective and personal (as Kar Lee stated) and what is true for one may not be true for another – the only objective truths are tautologies.

    Your life experience, education formal and empirical shapes your beliefs as does the culture and milieu. Genetics likely has nothing to do with beliefs, but that is just my belief. I don’t give genetics as much import as many do these days and I believe that genetics is far more plastic than is assumed. Genes may be repressed or expressed according to the whims of consciousness and the personality.

    Peace

  131. 132. Mike Spenard says:

    “Genes may be repressed or expressed according to the whims of consciousness and the personality.”

    *coughbullshitcough* Tell that one to people dealing with sickle cell anemia.

    Please tell us you’re joking.

  132. 133. Burt says:

    Mike Spenard[132]

    I suggest you edify your consciousness before casting aspersions. You seem to be hostile to ideas beyond your provincial outlook. What are you afraid of? Dualism?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422150659.htm

  133. 134. Mike Spenard says:

    That study states, “Certain Genes Are Turned On Or Off By Geography And Lifestyle,” not “Certain Genes Are Turned On Or Off By The Whims of Consciousness”

    You’ll have to do a lot better then that to back up such an erroneous claim.

  134. 135. Vicente says:

    Burt[#131]: I find very difficult to understand what you say, anyway thank you for trying to explain.

    Regarding beliefs and genes etc., I think you could find interesting the “the blank slate” by Steven Pinker; is not that I completely agree with all the author views, but the approach is brilliant.

    Mike[134] is quite right, even if there were random biophysical processes underlying gene expression, and those processes could be biassed (or expression triggered or repressed) by environmental factors, that is not a whim, despite you can always say that to find heads or tails is whim of fate, but that is poetry not science or philosophy… on top of that it seems that consciousness does have the same whims too often, don’t you think.

  135. 136. Mike Spenard says:

    Kar:

    Well, I think you are in error in saying the advocates of elan vital were really equating “life energy” into the contents of consciousness.

    “The early theorists were predisposed to find that it was in the capacity for rigorous theory that lay the superiority of men over animals, of civilized men over barbarians and even the divine mind over human minds. They thus bequeathed the idea that the capacity to attain knowledge of truths was the defining property of a mind. Other human powers could be classed as mental only if they could be shown to be somehow piloted by the intellectual grasp of true propositions.” (Ryle 1949)

    So your comment doesn’t seem to dismiss the elan vital point. People back then apparently though man’s mind unique in having mental content, and that other forms of life had elan vital as a sort of animating essence.

    . . .

    “As I keep saying, consciousness is not a third person observable. You won’t see a halo around your friend’s head.”

    I shall say that the experience of X, which I am alleged to be leaving out, is featureless. The experience of X is featureless because there is nothing about it that X can discriminate. If he does discriminate something that appears to be a feature of the experience, this something at once becomes, roughly, either a feature of the stimulus in the sort of way that the saturation of the red in the red shape is a feature of the red shape, or a feature of his own responses to the shape. In attempting to advocate for features that we are leaving out X merely provides us with further information about the behavior that he does and can perform.

    So, you’re right, I won’t see a halo around my friends head. For the same reason the program of reification that desires to turn experiences into “essences” or “sensible objects” fails: While no can prove the non-existence of halos or qualia etc, there isn’t a shred of verifiable evidence to support the ideas. And as soon as one claims verifiable evidence for this end, they immediately becomes an objective feature and not the subject matter at hand.

  136. 137. Burt says:

    Mike[134]

    You are deliberately being disingenuous – the point is if genes can be turned off and on by environmental or lifestyle choices, that means that they can be controlled by one’s choices and by one’s desires or whims. I maintain that consciousness is the prime mover in the universe – you say bulls**t – that’s your opinion – you can’t prove it isn’t true anymore than I can prove it is – it’s all hypothetical. Nobody can prove much of anything beside tautological propositions which is proof by definition. You can believe that there is objective reality but you’ll never be able to prove it as ALL is subjective to the perceiver. This philosophy is a tight loop, self referential like those described in Doug Hofstadter’s GEB – it proves itself and leads to many conclusions not dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

    Anent Sickle Cell Anemia: Those with the trait have immunity to Malaria and other deleterious diseases so they enjoy an advantage in areas where those are present. Besides which they are not victims, their personality consciousness chooses to experience life with that base genetic configuration – it was no accident of birth or DNA. Each individual uses challenges for his own reasons. Disease is a choice that an entity makes for its life experience. The entity’s beliefs and consciousness manifest the conditions needed for the experience.

    Vicente[135]

    What is so hard to understand? – I can see that it may not comport with your beliefs but the concept is simple. Fate does not exist and genes are plastic and may be influenced to be on or off by any number of factors including the desire to change. Consciousness operating in physical reality would naturally seem to be similar because it is; consciousness obeys physical law from our standpoint but physical law arises from tacit agreement by mass consciousness so individual consciousness gestalts are not necessarily bound by it. “Whim” was a careless choice of words – it has a connotation of triviality – I should have said genes can be turned on or off by an individual’s needs.

    Again my thesis is that consciousness is a fundamental property of ALL that exists, interchangeable with matter and energy. Looking for consciousness in complexity or the brain is an exercise in futility; philosophy is currently the means that will enable science to discover its true nature.

  137. 138. Mike Spenard says:

    “I maintain that consciousness is the prime mover in the universe – you say bulls**t – that’s your opinion – you can’t prove it isn’t true anymore than I can prove it is – it’s all hypothetical. ”

    Well congratulations, you’ve created a context where you can say anything and say its reasonable. What’s your next leap? That certain cognitive states have the power to turn blood into wine? … Perhaps you got misdirected here instead of the blog for your seminary school?

  138. 139. Mike Spenard says:

    “physical law arises from tacit agreement by mass consciousness ”

    So you’re an Idealist?

  139. 140. Vicente says:

    Burt[137]: Now you have said something I can understand.

    “is that consciousness is a fundamental property of ALL that exists, interchangeable with matter and energy”

    interesting, I will assume that interchangeable applies as for mass energy conservation law. Can you tell me the conversion (interchange?) rate, between consciousness an energy. Maybe we have found a new source of green energy, if the conversion process is not polluting. What would you think it would be a nice name for consciouness units, I suggest mindrams, or… mindules…

  140. 141. Mike Spenard says:

    “consciouness units, I suggest mind[g]rams, or… mindules…”

    This just takes the problem of consciousness and repackages it a new noun that is supposedly axiomatic. It leaves all of the same old questions looming under a new guise: What’s so special about mindgrams as opposed to non-mindgrams? i.e., what property gives mindgrams consciousness that the regular gram lacks? If my foot has mindgrams and my brain has mindgrams, why are the mindgrams in my skull necessary for me being conscious and those in my foot not. Only now we are in even worse shape, having crammed our questions into a noun that is only speculation, and justified it [not that you've gone quiet this far yet; but Burt has] by saying its a ‘first principle’ and therefor self-evident.

    Don’t fall into the same man made cage for the mind of man Descartes and Burt have fashioned for themselves:

    “Instead of asking by what criteria intelligent behavior is actually distinguished from non-intelligent behavior, he asked ‘Given that the principle of mechanical causation does not tell us the difference, what other principle will tell it us?’ He realized that the problem was not one of mechanics and assumed that it must therefore be one of some counterpart to mechanics. …the question is not the envelop-question ‘How do I discover that I or you have a mind?’ but the range of specific questions of the pattern, ‘How do I discover that I am more unselfish than you; that I can do long division well, but differential equations only badly; that you suffer from certain phobias and tend to shirk facing certain problems or facts; that I am more easily irritated than most people but less subject to panic, vertigo, or morbid conscientiousness?’ [...] Questions of these sorts offer no mysteries; we know quite well how to set to work to find out the answers to them; and though we may have to stop short at mere conjectures, yet, even so, we have no doubts of what sorts of information would satisfy our requirements, if we could get at it; and we know what it would be like to get at it.” (Ryle 1949)

  141. 142. Vicente says:

    Mike, I want mindrams without “g”, is better for marketing purposes, mindgrams sounds a bit like migraines, or is it that cheap speculative tales produce migraines…. Descartes “and” Burt, may I say that Spinoza and I think alike.

  142. 143. Mike Spenard says:

    Right on the box as you may, G or no G, its a repackaging of the problem not an insight.

    . . .

    On “prime movers”…

    Barlow 1972 “Perception vol 1″:
    “each single neuron can perform a much more complex and subtle task than had previously been thought. Neurons do not loosely and unreliably remap the luminous intensities of the visual image onto our sensorium, but instead they detect pattern elements, discriminate the depths of objects, ignore irrelevant causes of variation and are arranged in an intriguing hierarchy. Furthermore, there is evidence that they give prominence to what is informationally important, can respond with great reliability, and can have their pattern selectively permanently modified by early visual experience.
    [this is all work that was formerly thought to have to have been the work of the mind in Descartes and Bert's sense]
    This amounts to a revolution in our outlook. It is now quite inappropriate to regard unit activity as a noisy indication of a more basic and reliable processes involved in mental operations: instead we must regard single neurons as the prime movers of these mechanisms. Thinking is brought about by neurons and we should not use phrases like “unit activity reflects, reveals, or monitors thought processes,” because the activities of neurons, quite simply, are thought processes. This revolution stemmed from physiological work and makes us realize that the activity of each single neuron may play a significant role in perception.”(p.380)

    We have known since Lettvin’s seminal work, at the level of neurophysiology, with “receptive fiends” that the eye is not a camera shuttling off a point-by-point representation of the world to then be interpreted in the mind. The retina is an extruded part of the brain and ->the interpretation starts as soon as a photon impinges upon us<- (Lettvin et al. 1959; pp.235-9, 255-7):

    "The connections are such that there is a synaptic path from a rod or cone to a great many thousand receptors. Clearly, such an arrangement would not allow for good resolution were the retina meant to map an image in terms of light intensity point by point into a distribution of excitement in the optic nerve. […] These findings by Hartline and Barlow establish that optic nerve fibers (the axons of the ganglion cells) do not transmit information only about light intensity at single points in the retina. Rather, each fiber measures a certain feature of the whole distribution of light in an area of the receptive field. […] it shows that the eye speaks to the brain in a language already highly organized and interpreted, instead of transmitting some more or less accurate copy of the distribution of light on the receptors. […] when one inspects responses that are a few nervous transformations removed from the receptors, as in the optic nerve, that same choice of stimulus is difficult to defend. It is equivalent to assuming that all of the interpretation is done further on in the nervous system. But, as we have seen, this is false. […] The operations [performed by the retina] thus have much more the flavor of perception than of sensation, if that distinction has any meaning now."

    Sensation in both the sophisticated and unsophisticated sense is distributed over the CNS. And the very fact that our interpretation of the world starts at the periphery and base level of our nervous system shows that there are important aspects to our phenomenal experience that are not fully accessible to introspection and that only neuroscience can tell us about them. Positing "sensible objects" or axiomatic "units of consciousness", at this stage of the game, is superfluous.

  143. 144. Mike Spenard says:

    oops, ‘write’ heh. this thing really needs a bloody edit botton ;)

  144. 145. Vicente says:

    Mike, in cmmt #140 I was not serious at all, I was just trying to show Burt that his statements are floating in the void. One shouldn’t talk about mass energy conversion so happily, not knowing what one’s claims entail. Sorry if I was not clear.

  145. 146. Mike Spenard says:

    Ah, I thought you were taking it seriously. Nevermindule what I said then!

  146. 147. Vicente says:

    Mike, it was worth the mistake, actually your points are very interesting, and your discourse is consistent.

    “…to our phenomenal experience that are not fully accessible to introspection and that only neuroscience can tell us about them…”

    This statement is an excellent summary of our zombie side, I am beginning to understand that most of oriental religion/philosophy is simply a way to tame the zombie on one hand, and to get decouple of its needs and “whims” and misery on the other hand. Bloody zombie !

  147. 148. Mike Spenard says:

    Thanks Vicente. I wrote this elsewhere, but it’s applicable here now:

    This discipline, it is commonly thought, above all is to be profound and beget the deepest of thought. I wish here, at the outset, to opine antithetically for myself. Let me be clear and transparent; I am shallow–perspicuously, prodigiously, portentously shallow. Weighted with the hefty stones of philosophical problems, should our aims be to lighten our conceptual load or let our minds sink to unfathomable, unseen and unseeable depths? There are those that love to tread water–the deeper the better–who think philosophy without depth is destined to be superficial. Let those who may find themselves in over their heads characterize me as being superficially deep, and deep down of being shallow. Could it be any other way? Would we want it any other way? — not I.

    . . .

    Well, those sub-personal aspects are “unconscious” or “sub-conscious” as most would say (following Freud). I prefer to think of them as being outside the the reaches of the linguistic–reporting (e.g. speech acts)–part of the brain. Also, it wouldn’t be consistent with the cog.sci lexicon to call them “zombic”. Philosophical zombies, what I referred to as p-zed’s above, is something different: doppelga?ngers.

    On p-zed’s: A twin you that is indistinguishable from you in every physical and behavioral way (e.g. it reads books, eats dinner, cries when it sees a sad movie or stubs its toe, listens to music and says it loves the sound of rain falling in the evening etc.). However, this doppelga?nger has no private inner life; no subjective experiences; no “soul”. All is dark inside the mind (or lack thereof) of your doppelga?nger.

    This is certainly a very alluring idea, and extremely easy to imagine, but it forces a question of the most difficult sort: does a soul do anything? After all this doppelga?nger looks and behaves like you in every way. If your doppelga?nger and yourself were put side by side, who would an observer decide as being the real you with an inner life? You might reply “Me! It’s me that is ‘alive’ alive and conscious! Me me!”, but alas so would your twin! And by the dualist’s standards (i.e. subjective experiences are private and non-reducible to the objective physical stuff of science) I would have no real way of telling who the imposter is [see also post #136]. (This is why Burt’s Dualism commits him eventually to solipsism)

    We should pause to ask if our intuitions have placed us on an all too slippery slope. Is there something that Greeks know about consciousness that Canadians cannot know? Or, is there something that left hand dominant people cannot know about consciousness that right-handed people know? Our dualistic intuitions and “common sense” thinking about the mind legitimize these facetious questions.

    Bloody zombies are right. This is why Dualism is about as worthwhile to discuss as Intelligent Design. The position is so esoteric as to make the idea that the mind isn’t objectively knowable seem reasonable. Outside of philosophy this is something only someone who is institutionalized for psychological reasons would insist upon.

    End of line.

  148. 149. Vicente says:

    Mike, there are different ways that can lead to dualism. Me, as a physicist I am getting close to dualism because I cannot fit phenomenal experience in this Universe as I know, which in a way is a paradox. Of course, I fully admit that the problem could be my ignorance about the Universe. This is why I said: our zombie “side”, I believe our behaviour has to drivers: body/brain and something else I don’t quite yet understand. And this “something else” agent, has to interact with the brain. My main interest now is to see if there could be places in the brain appropriate for such an interaction without violating the laws of physics.

    I agree with you that these postures arise from the need to fill a gap, a dark void. Like intelligent design tries to fill the blank zones within biology when trying to explain the basis of life. The problem is the dogmatic/political/pseudo-religious approach, and missuse by different lobbies, in order to abuse the meek.

    For this reason, I don’t consider myself a dualist, I prefer to say I am an ignorant, I don’t have the answer, but my feeling is that there is something more, something we cannot intellectually reach.

    What cannot be done is to talk about “quasi state patterns of interchangeable consciosness mass” or similar garbage.

  149. 150. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: I admit I’m jumping in here with a point not directly related to youse guys ongoing discussion. But back in Lloyd[52] I asked a question which had the not-so-well-hidden motive to find out whether you could tell the difference between a conscious person and a PZ. I claim that it would be possible to ask revealing questions. Can you refute this point?

    Whether this has anything to say about dualism, I do not know.

  150. 151. Lloyd Rice says:

    I suppose, however, that the burden is on me to come up with such a revealing question. How about: “How can you tell the difference between red and green?”

    OK. I admit I didn’t think about that very long.

  151. 152. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[151]: You can tell by using a light spectrometer to discriminate between red and green incoming light, but then, we would be talking about frequencies spectra, AND NOT ABOUT COLORS ANY MORE, you see. You’ve hit straight in the centre of the problem. It is either frequencies or colors. If you constraint the system to pure phenomenal experience you cannot tell the difference between red and green light, you can only compare the perceptions with other perceptions, in a selfcontained system, thus open and inconsistent.

  152. 153. Mike Spenard says:

    “I asked a question which had the not-so-well-hidden motive to find out whether you could tell the difference between a conscious person and a PZ.”

    Of course not. By DEFINITION you can’t. If one could, then it would ex hypothesi not be a p-zed you are talking about.

  153. 154. Vicente says:

    sorry for out of logic #152, I got confused with another discussion.

  154. 155. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re Mike[153]: Then a PZ is impossible.

    Re Mike[148]: What if everybody was a solipsist?

    Re Vicente[152,154]: The “out of logic” was my fault. But if you and a PZ are watching the spectrometer and discussing the results, it’s hard for me to believe that NO POSSIBLE diagnostic question could be imagined. Like, for example, “Can you tell any difference between sample A and sample B other than the meter reading?”

    But then see “Re Mike[153]” above.

  155. 156. Vicente says:

    Well, the point is that the meter reading difference between sample A and sample B happens in the PZ brain, it is like “Terminator” with a display in the “vision field”, so green/red for him are like a tick in a checkbox list. It is like saying that the vision system of the PZ has a built-in spectrometry function (or RGB parameters doesn’t matter), that emulates you VISUAL experience.

    HMMM, maybe you could use sort of Pete Mandik’s color perception experiments, synchronic/dyachronic presentations to find differences in the response to color perception of both C.E. and PZ…

    In my view, the only way is to ask straight forward the PZ: Have you got a phenomenal experience? an inner view of the world based on qualia? are you a conscious entity or just a piece of meat? (do it pretending to be Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson it works better)

    I bet at that point the PZ faints on the spot, with white smoke coming out of his ears and foam bubbles out of his mouth….

  156. 157. Vicente says:

    Lloyd, I think the whole idea of PZ’s is based on the observation of human behaviours that resemble zombie behaviour. All of us have the experience of doing things in a subconscious manner.

    But the point is that unless we are talking about pure instincts like a baby sucking milk, then:

    ALL THOSE ZOMBIE BEHAVIOURS REQUIERE OF PREVIOUS TRAINNING AT CONSCIOUS LEVEL.

    So, there is no blindsight for real blind people. You cannot go dreamwalking without previous alert walking in a well known place. Behaviour becomes subconscious once the trainning process is finished.

    Put somebody in a completely new scenario and you’ll see how all zombie behaviour vanishes. Once the individual gets used to the new conditions and new rituals are created zombie behaviour appears again.

    I am not talking about basic behavioral traits, only about complex behaviour. The former are inclinations rather than behaviour.

    So my point is that in an extreme case a PZ could exist if it has gone through a previous CONSCIOUS training process, that has loaded all the requiered parameters, like naming colors, in order to act as a conscious entity while being a PZ. Otherwise PZs are no possible.

  157. 158. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: But isn’t any form of the info display basically a form of qualia?

    You’re probably correct that the PZ would foam at the mouth. Or maybe jump into the vat of molten iron.

    I stand by Lloyd[155] “Re Mike[153]“.

    Actually, I was thinking this morning (warning, warning) that any form of knowledge is essentially a version of qualia. Comments?

  158. 159. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re Vicente[157]: I think you are probably correct that all blindX phenomena do depend on previous consciousness.

  159. 160. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re #158: I think the issue is what is the definition of knowledge. If you include the thermostat’s information about the room temp, then obviously, that is not consciousness. So the question is what brain structures are required to support knowledge and are those the same structures that support consciousness?

    Re #159: I believe you would need to distinguish between prior consciousness and knowledge of the current situation. According to the blindX experiments reported by Gazzaniga, the subject did not know about the current tableau, but certainly did have past experience of X (sight, sound, etc).

  160. 161. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[158-160]:

    You have raised a key issue of utmost importance. It is a long time since I am trying to set a reference system for: information, knowledge and meaning. For some people it might be an evident thing, for me, it is a nightmare of abstract structuring and definition. I am positive that behind those three concepts and the relations between them there is one of the keys to understanding the whole puzzle.

    Structuring is one of the concepts that needs to be settle down in the system, for example, what is for you the difference between knowledge and wisdom? if you think there is any.

    Qualia !! yes, I agree with you, no matter what, they always seem to be at the basement of any mind operation… for example, take a simple datum, your birth date, how do you retrieve it, by hearing the inner sound of the words, by the image of the number…how?

    I was recalling a comment made in the interesting stuff page, about meditation. Alec said that as the inner talk fade away, intuition remained active, what kind of knowledge is intuition?

    I need first to clarify the structuring issue.

    As I have said sometimes in the past, it is difficult to picture conscious experience without the “observer” trying to understand it, even with ad-hoc explanations… but I believe knowledge is not necessary for consciousness, but consciousness is requiered for knowledge and meaning…

    Regarding brain structures… well I “could say” that it seems that memory that should play an important role in knowledge, in some cases might not work very well, still the conscious experience “per se” is not affected, maybe we can get some conclusions… but that is knowledge as in an encyclopaedia, but knowledge to be meaningful needs to be “used” in a certain framework, otherwise is just a dataset…

    I am unable to see the whole issue clearly…

  161. 162. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd:

    “Re Mike[153]: Then a PZ is impossible.”

    Agreed ;)

    “But if you and a PZ are watching the spectrometer and discussing the results, it’s hard for me to believe that NO POSSIBLE diagnostic question could be imagined. Like, for example, “Can you tell any difference between sample A and sample B other than the meter reading?””

    If it a difference was found between PZ and you, then ipso facto that is a behavioral difference and not the subject matter “qualia” we are trying to isolate. And you got the hard to imagine part right though. That’s the whole problem with PZ’s: easy to imagine, hard to imagine they arn’t possible, and its the age old conceivability argument wrapped in a new box. All it does is get you to inflate your intuitions and go “AH HAH!” without making sure you’ve seen every single consequence of what is really being asked here: NO, NONE, ZIP, NILL, NADA, behavioral differences.

    “Re Mike[148]: What if everybody was a solipsist?”
    If we all only believed in our own mental lives then humanity would be very different indeed. The word “Empathy” would not even be part of our language. But, I don’t think its possible for any form of life to evolve as being a solipsist. It would mean an animal would not care to think of other animals as having intents, thoughts, desires etc. Any animal that chose to ignore that would be at a disadvantage.

    . . .

    “Vicente: But isn’t any form of the info display basically a form of qualia?”

    Can’t be. Info is a measure of thermodymamic entropy (negentropy actually). That is clearly a physical thing, and the opposite of what the advocates of qualia are after.

    . . .

    “Actually, I was thinking this morning (warning, warning) that any form of knowledge is essentially a version of qualia. Comments?”

    Your on the right track I think. The difficulty is that people think “experience” / qualia is entirely different then propositional knowledge. “Experience isn’t like reading or talking.” And in a way they are right. But propositions aren’t wizzing around in the head in “mentalese” either. I think the underlying roots of experience and propositional knowledge (“intentional objects”) must be similar. The difference is probably related to speed. See Dennett’s “Fast Thinking”. Ed Fesser says this is what Dennett et al are up to too, i.e., resolving qualia into intentional objects (the stuff of “belief” and “aboutness”). So I can’t be to far off heh… which means your on the right track.

    . . .

    Vic:

    “meter reading difference between sample A and sample B … a built-in spectrometry function … that emulates you VISUAL experience.”

    You’re forgetting that’s not what the visual system is for. From above: its job is to “code” objects, rather than be spectrally analytic. And the classification of objects by color depends quite as much on the operating characteristics of the visual system as on the physical properties of the objects.

    Look up Land’s famous experiment; and also “metamers”.

  162. 163. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd:

    “thermostat’s information about the room temp, then obviously, that is not consciousness. So the question is what brain structures are required to support knowledge and are those the same structures that support consciousness?”

    This is right on target. And what I was going on about above, ““Consciousness” is a word I use to describe the complex level of involvement I have with the world, the real one, nothing more nothing less.”, that Burt objected too.

    A thermostat has a very limited set of afferent and efferent interactions with the world. Probably 2 or 3. A human is on the order of billions. Once man has fully grasped all of those, there will be only one word fitting for the level of complexity and interaction: consciousness.

  163. 164. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: You are correct of course “A human is on the order of billions”, but also, it has to be something more than mere numbers. I would say that we seek to understand that nature of the (processing) structures involved.

    At least, so I speak for myself.

    Thanks to both for the many pertinent comments.

  164. 165. Lloyd Rice says:

    I do think there must be different brain structures required for simple “awareness” types of qualia, perhaps what Searle called “brute feel”, and the ability needed to think through complex topics, to think abstractly. However, it is also well known that consciousness comes in many forms, such as the long lists of kinds of consciousness listed by Damasio or Chalmers. So it could be that the awareness of the abstract thoughts is just another kind of consciousness.

    So what I am saying is that perhaps the ability to think abstractly is, in itself, not a form of consciousness, but that our awareness of the abstraction is.

  165. 166. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd:
    “it has to be something more than mere numbers. I would say that we seek to understand that nature of the (processing) structures involved.”
    Sure, I guess I would just put that under the envelope of “complex level of involvement”. I’m all for information theoretic and computational approaches. As long as there’s no claim that some sort of “secret sauce” in the form of substances, energies or special neurological processes that are intrinsically the stuff of consciousness, it should be a good program of cog. sci. research.

    I really enjoyed Ken Sayre’s “Cybernetics and the Philosophy of Mind”. Its main failing is not including genetic algorithms. But this is a fantastic information theoretic starting point to the problem of minds. This and Dennett’s 1969 “Content and Consciousness” (wasn’t this a Dennett blog post heh) are two of the ripest cog. sci. fruits of that period. You might really enjoy it as well.

    On post [#165]: I sort of disagree (in the sense of special sauce neurology) and agree that, like i was going on about above, “there is a difference that makes the difference”; but I would posit its any neurology (and it might be ad hoc; and for this reason I think NCC research programs are bunk) that goes into linguistic reports, that we should be concerning ourselves with over this “phenomenal” difference. I do admit this begs the question: “Why would linguistics make things experiential aka “phenomenal”?” … because it allows us to say so.

  166. 167. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: I read the Dennett book some time ago. I have not read anything by Sayre. I will check it out.

    Based on a few very informal discussions with friends, I have some suspicions that I have less “verbal” content in my typical moment-to-moment consciousness than many other people. I do not typically “think in words”.
    Perhaps this is what leads me to believe that there must be a clear separation.

    If only a chimp could talk… But, as you say, that would defeat the purpose.

  167. 168. Lloyd Rice says:

    Earlier this morning, I watched the Google video of a conversation between Dan Dennett and philosophy prof Austin Fletcher. Dennett discussed a gas engine metaphor which, I believe, he did not pursue as far as he could have. Putting aside the gremlins issue, I believe it would be fruitful to discuss two (other) things that happen in the cylinder, heat and pressure. Both are consequences of the combustion, neither quite as solidly materialistic as the valves and cylinder walls, but both inherent in the process. The interesting point is that the pressure is directly responsible for the engine’s power output, while the heat is a by-product, in this case, undesirable.

    Applying this metaphor to brain/consciousness, as they did in the video, I would have asked Dan whether consciousness was more like the pressure or the heat. In my view, it is more like the heat than the pressure, although I would perhaps not go so far as to say it is an undesirable by-product.

  168. 169. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: Are you the Mike Spenard associated with the New Hampshire AASB?

  169. 170. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd:
    On FB? Yep. Thats me.

    . . .

    You the interview with Robert Wright? (as Dennett IS Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts). If so hes objecting to epiphenomenalism.

    On the engine metaphor… this is what he’s really trying to say:

    There are three possibilities of approaching the evolution of consciousness:

    1. You believe in p-zombies, that it is forever a mystery because it is epiphenomenal and are therefor forced to give up on the task because Natural Selection can not operate on it. E.g. Chalmers [and apparently Wright buys into this]

    2. You reject p-zombies, and believe that consciousness is ‘something’ separable from all other skills and abilities we have evolved; in which case the task becomes to explain what this ‘something’ is, what this ‘something”s auxiliary adaptive function is, and how it evolved. E.g. Searle

    3. You reject p-zombies, and believe that consciousness comes about when those skills and abilities evolve and the task is to explain why. E.g. Dennett

    #1 is a non-starter. #2 has the following fallacy, what I call ‘the fallacy of adaptive health and consciousness':

    “What is the adaptive advantage of health?” and “What is health for?”. I have a hard time believing health is something above and beyond skills and abilities, and I have an equally hard time believing consciousness is something above and beyond skills and abilities. Therefor, health is not a ‘something’ unto which Natural Selection operates, nor is consciousness–and neither evolved (Dennett).

    This is what Dennett was trying to advocate. Position # 3. ..at least this has been his position so far.

    “I would have asked Dan whether consciousness was more like the pressure or the heat. ”
    He’d say neither, and that it’s like a center of gravity. Although, if that question were framed in a a sense where heat is described as a macro level feature that isn’t observable by looking at the micro level parts. Then he might agree. But he’d be hesitant as its pretty close to being what I’ve called a “program of reification”. …from what I know of him.

  170. 171. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[168] could you please give us a link to the video, can’t find it, just found old ones.

    I haven’t watched the video yet, but to compare the brain/consciousness system with a combustion engine looks promising… :-O

  171. 172. Lloyd Rice says:

    Glad you asked. Because the only way I found it again was that I recognized Fletcher’s face.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9136959594507340339#

  172. 173. Vicente says:

    Just watched it, pretty interesting. Fletcher is so much more coherent and consistent, the engine example is worsen by the dollar example and that one by the gremlims… and then “..I am sure that something will happen in the future…”. I had the feeling I was at a C.E. debate, actually I’ve seen better discussions in this blog. So, I am going to promote you, Mike and myself to the major league of Consciousness researchers.

    I agree that there is a lot of turmoil and pandemonium in many brains…

  173. 174. Lloyd Rice says:

    Thanks for the promotion. I hope we can live up to it.

  174. 175. Mike Spenard says:

    Its not Fletcher! It’s Robert Wright! The poor guy!

  175. 176. Vicente says:

    well yes, the presentation of the evolutive epiphenomenal emergence of consciousness, that ends up not being epiphenomenal is another nice one… you see.

  176. 177. Burt says:

    Mike[138]:

    “Well congratulations, you’ve created a context where you can say anything and say its reasonable. What’s your next leap? That certain cognitive states have the power to turn blood into wine? … Perhaps you got misdirected here instead of the blog for your seminary school?”

    Your replies show that you are more interested in attempts to be cleverly dismissive than addressing the ramifications of my premises. The point of philosophy is to create premises and context to logically deduce whether it is tenable or not and if it were then what must follow, you say it’s not but don’t refute it except with snarky remarks and comments such as bullshit and garbage without qualification. You also appear to be quite arrogant (not that arrogance is necessarily negative) and have disdain for those with religious beliefs – I do not happen to hold theistic beliefs beyond Burtism and autotheism, however I do not disparage others beliefs even if I believe they are misguided. If it is in the context of proselytization by zealots, I’ll discuss my autotheistic beliefs vis-à-vis theirs but not snarkily or with the intent of disabusing them of their belief system.

    Mike[139]: “So you’re an Idealist?”

    I could be considered a sort of modified Idealist, closer to Leibniz’s Idealism than anyone else’s but without God or angelic hierarchies. Everything that each of us experiences or apprehends is a product of our consciousnesses, which again is a personality gestalt of monadic consciousness units.

    Vicente[140]:

    “I will assume that interchangeable applies as for mass energy conservation law. Can you tell me the conversion (interchange?) rate, between consciousness an energy. Maybe we have found a new source of green energy, if the conversion process is not polluting. What would you think it would be a nice name for consciousness units, I suggest mindrams, or… mindules…”

    Now you are being disingenuous as you know full well that the rate cannot be measured by current available means. I assume that the Mass/Energy conservation law approximately holds in our physical reality but like parity conservation maybe it’s not absolute. Green (quale) energy is an idea construct– energy is neutral and so is pollution except for whom it is charged. I like CUBITS – not Noah’s units or Quantum Computing Bits but Consciousness Unit bits. The mind is a miniscule manifestation of consciousness writ large and I would not use “mind” in a label for general consumption – I could say that mind is an emergent property of consciousness but as everything is an emergent property of consciousness it would be redundant.

    I can see by your comments that you are introspective and capable of understanding complex concepts, I can only deduce that English is not your primary language and my choice of explanatory verbiage is unfamiliar, I will try to explain more simply in future.

  177. 178. Mike Spenard says:

    I have disdain for anyone who would say “you can’t prove it isn’t true anymore than I can prove it is ” and then proceeds to say whatever they please, with lots of vague assertions about things like “personality gestalt of monadic consciousness units”. As if anyone but you has a clue what that is! And given that first statement, should we should even try too? Based off that first statement, apparently you don’t even think what you say is anything more then wild speculation. No one here seems to follow your double talk. Perhaps you’re suffering from quasi multiple quantum entangled personality disturbances in your gestalt beta wave channels?

    As for theology, I won’t shy away from it. Yes, I have disdain. As I believe, as an ethical principle, that beliefs about what reality contains should always be formed on the basis of evidence or rational argument—so that “faith” is inherently an unethical way to form your beliefs. To believe “on faith” is to believe that the world is a certain way (contains a god etc) without the support of either empirical or logical justification. This violates the ethics of belief—how you ought to arrive at your convictions. That, for me, is the original sin of theism; and from this sin the other sorts of sin arise—religious intolerance, persecution, and violence.

    And your ideas on the mind come awfully close to having to be taken on “faith”.

  178. 179. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt, have you created a trap for us all by telling half of your story here?

  179. 180. Vicente says:

    Burt[177]: Ok, let’s move on…

    “…know full well that the rate cannot be measured by current available means…”

    So it is matter of available means. This presents to you a great opportunity to envisage a thought experiment that could help us to measure the conversion rate. I suggest that you first consider a thought experiment to show that the conversion actually happens, and then we will see how to measure the rate…

    “I assume that the Mass/Energy conservation law approximately holds in our physical reality but like parity conservation maybe it’s not absolute.”

    Goodness gracious !! what makes you assume such a thing !? in this case there are available means, what about going for another experiment to check that assumption…

    Finally it was me who said that what you say is garbage, Mike only said it is bullshit, let each of us be charged for our own sins…

    I am aware that my english sounds pretty clumsy for native speakers, I have been often told by my English and American friends that take the chance to make fun of me :^( , well… in this particular field language esthetic is quite important, so the only solution would be to check and rethink the wording carefully (and even that does not guarantee success)… I just can’t bother myself doing so, sorry to hurt sometimes native ears.

  180. 181. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re Lloyd[172] and Mike[175]: there’s a longer interview at
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9136959594507340339#docid=-3133438412578691486

    I have not watched the whole thing, so I do not know how or if it is related to the other reference, but it appears to have been recorded at the same interview session. It identifies Dennett as the Austin Fletcher Prof of Philosophy at Tufts and identifies the interviewer as “Wright”. I assume Mike is correct.

    Sorry to all for my misidentifications.

  181. 182. Vicente says:

    Thanks Loyd, actually it is the first part of the same interview. This part is much better, the discussion level is much higher.

    It is funny, in this part Dennett says that he is not absolutely sure of anything, to inmediately say that he is absolutely sure AI will produce conscious robots in the future.

    What do you think of the argument he uses about having many more brain cells before birth than after, to justify that organism development does not move continously in the direction of increasing complexity? I think he is assuming brain complexity as a function of the number of cells, while probably networks and synapsis are more important in this sense… isn’t it?

  182. 183. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: Yes, I had exactly the same thought when he talked about the number of cells. It seems quite clear that the overall system complexity continues to increase monotonically during that age period. It is the unused, therefore less well connected, cells that die.

    I had some further thoughts about the gasoline engine metaphor (see #168). I talked about heat and pressure as if they were separate things. Obviously they are closely related. But you could perhaps imagine a type of engine that produced pressure without heat. To the extent this is a useful metaphor for consciousness, I am now moving away from the heat side and moving more toward the pressure side. That is, in my view, consciousness results from brain processes and may be directly in the pathway of motor activity control. I believe that processing the POVP output (see Lloyd[68]) in order to compute motor activity directly results in the awareness of the present world situation.

  183. 184. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: As for what Dennett is or is not absolutely sure of, I’m afraid I do not have the philosopher’s keen sense of pinning down exact phraseology and trying to hold a person to that. Yes, my communication probably suffers as a result, but I prefer it that way.

  184. 185. Lloyd Rice says:

    More on #184: I would like to think that I can usually tell the difference in whether a person is trying to pin down some definition — and needs to be heard precisely — as opposed to reporting a more or less casual opinion.

  185. 186. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[183]: the point is that heat is just a transfer of internal energy, so the kinetic(mainly) energy of the combustion resulting gases hit the piston and cylinder wall. Now these collisions exert a force on the walls (pressure) that moves the piston, there you have WORK, so part of the internal energy of the gas is transfer to WORK, then the same collisions transfer some energy to the walls’ molecules in another mode, inceasing the walls internal energy (this transfer is HEAT), then again this energy is distributed by conduction mainly (chain of collisions) to all parts of the engine (HEAT again). Then the gases expand in the atmosphere (wasted WORK) and then the atmosphere is heated by the gases (more HEAT). The efficiency of the engine is defined as the ratio WORK (car motion) to HEAT/work (wasted transfer of internal energy). Heat only exists as an energy transfer.

    So basically pressure and heat are the result of the same microscopic process (collisions), the view it is just the different approach you have from classical macroscopic thermodynamics or from Statistical Physics.

    Now the more the engine cycle is close to ideal adiabatic (no heat transfer) cycles the best. Is it possible an engine 100% efficent, no, the second principle of thermodynamics does not allow it (demonstration out of the scope of this blog…), some of the internal energy has to be wasted…

    Maybe with an electrical engine build with superconductors you could achieve very high efficiencies…. but here the engine torque is produced by a very different mechanism…

    [184] sorry Lloyd, I was deliberately sarchastic, I meant that when the point is not convenient to his baseline philosophy he is not sure, and when it is, he is absolutely sure. It is very human, no doubt, I agree with you[185].

  186. 187. Vicente says:

    Lloyd, just one more remark on[#183], HEAT is one of the most destructive terms I have ever seen, it is just a historical mistake, a result of the XVII century “flogisto” idea, a fluid that was supposed to move between bodies to explain differences in temperature. HEAT is only useful to create confussion in students heads. Now it is very difficult to redefine the whole thermological formulation in a more rational way, just using energy, and discarding a term just for energy transfer. Forget it, this engine metaphor is just useless for the consciousness field.

    To try to finish to answer you question, you could increase the pressure in a vessel with very little heat (energy leakage), you could use a Dewar flask with a piston, fill it with gas, and then through a quasistatic adiabatical compression increase the preassure. In the same way a quasistatic adiabatical expansion of the same device would produce work with almost no heat involved, you can consider that and engine (slow one) in which pressure has been used without heat waste…

    Now, to contradict myself, you could think the last process as a representation of “deep meditation” in your engine metaphor…. ;^)

  187. 188. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd: I’m pretty sure Dennett said “AI absolutely will produce conscious robots” in the sense that there are no logical barriers, rather, it’s a practical difficulty: which makes it only a matter of effort and time. It’s an off hand conversation, not a literary piece, sometimes we use the “absolutely” simply for effect in conversation to show that we really mean it, not as it being an eventual necessary outcome. Anyway… my 2 cents ;)

  188. 189. Vicente says:

    Mike how do you do to get the smiley face?

  189. 190. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: You just type ‘:’, ‘-‘, ‘)’. Peter does the rest.

  190. 191. Vicente says:

    Lloyd, I suspect it is a syntax recognition function of the Replies textbox control, and it is not working for me…. :-)

  191. 192. Vicente says:

    Now it did!! to prove me stupid !

  192. 193. Vicente says:

    Now, what is the code for the winking eye face?

  193. 194. Vicente says:

    ;-)

  194. 195. Vicente says:

    Mike[188]: I don’t quite understand the message in #188, but for somebody who is thinking in this stuff 24/7 (roughly), there are no off hand conversations, and what is the difference between really meaning something, or to say it is a necessary outcome.

  195. 196. Anonymous says:

    In an interview there’s always little slips. I doubt Dennett meant an absolute thing as in a necessary outcome. E.g. Mankind could go extinct before it happened. I can’t speak for him obviously, but he’s surely willing to acknowledge it’s contingent on practicalities etc.

    And he has a history of having to deal with Searle et al who says it’s “absolutely not possible” as in its logically necessary to never occur. His comment was probably reactionary due to that history, and “absolutely” came out in the sense that one is “absolutely going to go on a diet” or “the sun is absolutely coming up tomorrow”. Which is to say mostly to convey you think its a sure bet.

  196. 197. mike spenard says:

    Oops #196 was me ;)

  197. 198. mike spenard says:

    Also, Peter emailed me. I guess post #170 got snagged in blog-spam land?
    Curious what you guys think of options 1,2 and 3.

  198. 199. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re #188, #195, #196: As I recall, he added, almost as an afterthought, “eventually”.

    Re Mike[170]: Glad Peter got it back in. I would definitely be up for #3. I would say that consciousness is something like health in the sense that it is just “there” when everything is working right. So it’s not exactly a property in the sense that lung volume or even muscle tone are properties.

    For me, consc. is what the organism senses when the world model is processed by the POVP layer. In the talk, Dennett put a lot of emphasis on the competition argument. To me, competition is a basic property of all of the perception systems, but not so much an integral part of the world model and POVP layers. For example, pretty much all flavors of neural nets as well as Hawkins’ HTMs have competition built in as a basic aspect of the way they work. Even if none of these is a good model for the brain’s perceptual systems, it seems fairly clear that some such version of competition is a basic property of neural function at all levels.

    So who gets to write #200?

  199. 200. Lloyd Rice says:

    Had to do it.

  200. 201. Vicente says:

    Mike:
    could it be “You reject p-zombies, and believe that consciousness is ’something’ separable from all other skills and abilities we have evolved; in which case the task becomes to explain what this ’something’ is, what this ’something’’s auxiliary adaptive function is, and how it evolved. E.g. Searle”

    But, consciousness is separable from the skill and abilities, and not the other way round, so the skills and abilities evolution is influenced by the existence of consciousness. Could it? an asymmetrical consciousness/skills relationship.

  201. 202. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[#200-1]

    “For me, consc. is what the organism senses”

    Once I proposed you a thought experiment about disconnecting all sensorial inputs to somebody’s brain, you never answered… so what do you think would happen to that person’s consciousness? where is the border that separates organism/brain from the rest of the Universe? Kar Lee knows a lot about this…

    “Dennett put a lot of emphasis on the competition argument”

    And what is the purpose of the competition (he actually said turmoil and pandemonium)? what is it for?

    “it seems fairly clear that some such version of competition is a basic property of neural function at all levels.”

    Could you please explain a little bit more this idea.

  202. 203. mike spenard says:

    ““Dennett put a lot of emphasis on the competition argument””
    “And what is the purpose of the competition (he actually said turmoil and pandemonium)? what is it for?”

    He was alluding to his ideas about Neural Darwinism (see Edelman). Its for: getting command and control without a “central meaner”, commander or controller. His “pandemonium model” is from Consciousness Explained.. someplace in the middle of the book. Which is one of the more interesting sections I think.

  203. 204. mike spenard says:

    [201]
    “But, consciousness is separable from the skill and abilities, and not the other way round, so the skills and abilities evolution is influenced by the existence of consciousness. Could it? an asymmetrical consciousness/skills relationship.”

    Well, that’s a possibility. #2. I haven’t seen much to support the idea, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. When someone finds a consciousness gene(s) I’ll put more stock in the position ;)

    However, if like you say, consciousness is completely asymmetrical (or as I put it “conceptually isomorphic”) with skills, then one is talking about the same thing after all, but under a singular noun; i.e. consciousness instead of skills.

    Or, where you saying consciousness is epiphenomenal?

    For me this urge again shows the pull of how our language has a bifurcating personal sub-personal logic; “out there” – “in here”; “Me” – “everything else”; subjective – objective; if we weren’t wired this way, to say “that stuff is not me! and this is!” we’d be at a huge adaptive disadvantage. So its understandably hard to acknowledge that this “gap” is only ostensive in our language. That seems to be the real “hard problem” to crack.

  204. 205. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente #202: I believe that thread got caught up in a swirl of chit-chat about Matrix (the movies). My first thought was that there could be no consc. without sensory input. But the immediate next thought was the memory would still be active. Memories could substitute for sensory inputs and thus generate consc. So what would it mean to shut off memories? ALL memories, including visceral controls, etc.? Then obviously, the organism would die. Any part enough that the organism would live might be enough to generate consc. although it would necessarily be a limited form of consc.

  205. 206. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente #202B (competition): What a neural net does is essentially to choose among competing input patterns and select that pattent which most closely fits the training pattern(s). Hawkins’ HTMs are similar with the added ‘feature’ that the flow of time is part of each pattern. The basic competition aspect is the same.

    Mike #203: I knew that the pandemonium discussion was in one of the early Dennett books, but I did not dig it out. Maybe I should have checked my site to see if I wrote about that in a review.

  206. 207. Lloyd Rice says:

    Well, there’s not much at lloydrice.com. I really need to spend some time on that site. Sigh.

  207. 208. Lloyd Rice says:

    What I would really need to do is to re-read all of those books. I won’t last long enough to do that. Know anybody who would like to inherit a library of 1000+ books on brains, etc?

  208. 209. Mike Spenard says:

    Heh, I feel the same way about the stack of JCS issues I got here. If only I could send a message to myself when I was 10yo.

    Change of topic… what do you guys think of Whorf’s hypothesis? There’s been a lot of critical reviews of his idea (I’ve just recently read all of Lenneberg’s stuff from the 50s, and Berlin & Kay’s “Basic Color Terms”). But there seems to be some nugget of truth to the idea that language can shape how and what one thinks. It seems to be very close to what Wittgenstein and Quine were advocating too.

  209. 210. Burt says:

    Mike[162]

    “Re Mike[148]: What if everybody was a solipsist?”

    If we all only believed in our own mental lives then humanity would be very different indeed. The word “Empathy” would not even be part of our language. But, I don’t think its possible for any form of life to evolve as being a solipsist. It would mean an animal would not care to think of other animals as having intents, thoughts, desires etc. Any animal that chose to ignore that would be at a disadvantage.

    In my view, everyone is a solipsist so the label isn’t useful. Empathy is an innate sense that allows us to receive impressions of another’s consciousness (neuroscience hypothesizes this process is mediated by “mirror neurons” in higher life forms). Evolution is a “Just So Story” as is Creationism and its stalking horse, Intelligent Design.

    I contend that the major reason most people believe in the TOE is due to the either or choice between the TOE and Creationism. Secular believers choose the sciency just so story because they can’t accept the Creation Myth dogma proffered by religions. Even though there is no hard evidence (it’s all deduced a priori from a scant sample of fossils and phenotypical similarities) for the TOE and its conclusions, they’re stuck, because of their beliefs. Scientists point to intraspecial mutation, variation and adaptation, then extrapolate from bacteria to humans.

    Conscious Manifestation (my just so story) obviates abiogenesis and evolution. Animals do not philosophize, they act, are driven by instinct and generally incapable of resisting instinctual triggers unless conditioned a la Pavlov or Skinner.

    “I have disdain for anyone who would say “you can’t prove it isn’t true anymore than I can prove it is ” and then proceeds to say whatever they please, with lots of vague assertions about things like “personality gestalt of monadic consciousness units”. As if anyone but you has a clue what that is! And given that first statement, should we should even try too?”

    You make assertions that cannot be proved but you believe that they are true (probably due to the ad populum fallacy), therefore they are in fact true, subjectively to you. Absolute proof as I said before is for trivialities and tautologies. There is no real difference between your assertions and mine – materialism/physicalism is no more proveable than immaterialism; they are philosophies and open to debate.

    I proposed that consciousness is a fundamental property of ALL that exists, and the cubits (monadic consciousness units) are analogous to cells in a body, building physicality from quarks to humans to black holes. In physicality, a gestalt (from google: a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts) of cubits creates electromagnetic phenomena by expressing itself as photons, electrons, and the entire subatomic menagerie and so on.

    You are a personality composed of cooperating gestalts of consciousness. A collection of electrons, protons and neutrons that identifies itself as Mike is your solipsistic personality gestalt of monadic consciousness units.

    “Perhaps you’re suffering from quasi multiple quantum entangled personality disturbances in your gestalt beta wave channels”

    Again with the snark but seeing as you raised the concept, how do you account for the scientifically demonstrated “spooky action at a distance” when entangled particles communicate superluminally? My theory says that because they are in n-dimensional superposition, there is no distance between them and communication takes place instantaneously.

    “As I believe, as an ethical principle, that beliefs about what reality contains should always be formed on the basis of evidence or rational argument

    And your ideas on the mind come awfully close to having to be taken on “faith”.”

    Beliefs about reality on the basis of evidence is pretty much naïve realism – as to what constitutes “rational argument” is a matter of belief. You appear to believe I’m irrational, but instead of reasoned debate point out the logical fallaciousness in my ideas, you choose snark. Rationality is in the mind of the rationalizer and until science catches up to philosophy, reality will be elusively in the philosophical province.

    Anent “faith”: Anything that is believed is taken on faith – faith that whatever one believes makes sense to him is the way things are. Science has faith in peer review (ad populum) and the scientific method; you have faith that you are perceiving “reality” correctly (naïve realism). You have faith in what you read or hear that conforms to your preconceptions. Unless you empirically test your beliefs, they are faith based and even if they are tested, you had faith in the methodology that produced the test results. You can only adduce your beliefs and opinions, others may disagree and both are true from each other’s perception, both based in the faith of their convictions.

    I don’t ask for my ideas to be taken on faith, I take them on faith because they make sense to me, I test my belief system empirically by believing it to be true and living accordingly, so far I have not been disappointed and have no problem interacting with other belief systems. I ask that those who don’t subscribe to my ideas to produce reasoned objections to them. So far you haven’t.

    Vicente[180]

    “I assume that the Mass/Energy conservation law approximately holds in our physical reality but like parity conservation maybe it’s not absolute.”
    Goodness gracious !! what makes you assume such a thing !? in this case there are available means, what about going for another experiment to check that assumption…

    Finally it was me who said that what you say is garbage, Mike only said it is bullshit, let each of us be charged for our own sins…

    Let’s just say that Mass and Energy are conserved and the constituent consciousness along with them. I have not yet formulated a thought experiment and don’t know how to go about it, this is philosophy and speculation – I just know that the idea that consciousness is fundamental, when followed to logical conclusions, answers a lot of unanswered philosophical questions.

    In [105] Mike stated that (due to his misreading of my post [104]) primary and secondary personality concepts were the same sort of garbage as intelligent design.

    Anent Dennett: “In Breaking the Spell”, Dennett says: “Evolution is all about processes that almost never happen. Every birth in every lineage is a potential speciation event, but speciation almost never happens, not once in a million births. Mutation in DNA almost never happens — not once in a trillion copyings — but evolution depends on it.”

    So even though evolution is vastly improbable (1 out of a trillion favorable DNA mutations) it is none the less the mechanism by which via common descent, we are ancestors of the common ancestor of archea, bacteria and eukaryota – because evolution is true – after all we are here to state the fact!!! He commits one of his favorite fallacies, begging the question.

  210. 211. Mike Spenard says:

    “In my view, everyone is a solipsist so the label isn’t useful. ”
    Speak for yourself.

    “You are a personality composed of cooperating gestalts of consciousness.”
    What happened with being a solipsist?! O wait…

    “solipsistic personality gestalt of monadic consciousness units. ”
    So, since its not useful, you wrap it in a bullshit sandwich. Give us a break. No one here is apparently of your hand-waving. Try the Jung fan blogs.

    “Evolution [like Creationism and ID] is a “Just So Story”
    Surely you are joking.

    “Dennett says: “Evolution is all about processes that almost never happen” … “So even though evolution is vastly improbable”
    Apparently you’re not joking and take issue with evolution being a scientific fact as well. As for the above… you’re confusing the general process of evo. with specific processes it generates. As Fisher said, which I’m sure Dennett would agree with: “Darwin’s chief contribution, not only to biology but to the whole of natural science, to have brought to light a process by which contingencies a priori improbable, are given, in the process of time, an increasing probability, until it is their non-occurrence rather than their occurrence which becomes highly improbably”. So I’m not exactly sure what your beef with evolution is, but like Vicente said.. it stinks like garbage.

    “I proposed that consciousness is a fundamental property of ALL that exists”
    Ya that’s called pan-psychism. To bad it doesn’t answer any of the problems we really care about. E.g. why I need a brain to be conscious and not just feet. Obviously functional structure matters, in which case pan-psychism doesn’t help one cubit.

    “You appear to believe I’m irrational, but instead of reasoned debate point out the logical fallaciousness in my ideas, you choose snark.”
    Not only that, I think you’re full of shit soaked in excuses for it. So go ahead, waste everyone’s time here, and post again. I make no excuses for my crassness.

  211. 212. Lloyd Rice says:

    Re Mike[209] (Whorf): I, like many current linguists and psychologists, am of the opinion that the meaning of a word is an individual matter, ie. unique in detail to each individual, and consists of a “cloud” of experiences and associations from the individual’s history. Because there are major parallels between the meanings of a word across individuals of a language community, communication is possible.

    This means that much of what we believe about a word, a concept, or an idea is formed on the basis of the sum of experiences in the language community. Thus, I have no doubt that an eskimo has a different view of snow than a watusi.

    Is that what you were asking, or something more subtle?

  212. 213. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[205]: This time I agree. No input no consciousness. Flow (show) must go on… the image builds the screen. It is beyond what I can logically take, but it seems like that.

    Mike[204] “Well, that’s a possibility. #2. I haven’t seen much to support the idea, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. When someone finds a consciousness gene(s) I’ll put more stock in the position ”

    Sorry, I must have put across the idea really wrong. What I meant is, could it be that consciousness itself if not susceptible of evolution, but being conscious has an impact on behaviour (non-epiphenomenal approach) therefore intellectual skills evolve along different paths as a result of such an impact? Please note, that I am not saying that consciousness should entail a competitive advantage. So, you might have more intellingent species, but as conscious as they were in the beginning. Like having hands allows tools building a that fosters creativity/intelligence development, even if the hands don’t evolve (I know is not a perfect example).

    Mike[209]: I believe Whorf ideas are very sensible (the little I have got to read). I am positive that language structure has an influence in “REASONING” like a programming language structure has an influence in the kind of programmes you can build with it. I would decouple meaning from language structure (if a may). As I have said, for me the whole difference between a superadvanced android and a conscious human will be: QUALIA + MEANING.

    For me the question is, can I have meaning without symbols (sounds/images) to support it? is that intuition? can I think without words? by instropection I suspect there is a hybrid process in which formal reasoning based on words combined with intuitive integrated information management operates.

    And imagine if with concrete objects like snow we can have meaning issues, just think of what would happen with abstract ones.

  213. 215. Burt says:

    Mike[211]

    I am speaking for myself and you are a solipsist whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. I was just explaining what you are because you seem to believe you are something else, and I’ll wager previous to this exchange you knew next to nothing of Jungian Psychology having prolly googled “Gestalt” and discovered that Jung and his followers used the term. I use the term to describe a collection of items that compose a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. There are Jungian and Gestalt precepts with which I agree but they have little bearing on my thesis.

    I do take issue with Evolution being a scientific fact- facts can be proven – evolution beyond intraspecial mutation cannot be demonstrated, there is no evidence that is not arrived at except through inference, and it is accepted because there isn’t another theory to supplant it.

    The “Eons of time” is a red herring and the same as the chestnut that random typing by monkeys for an infinite period will produce all the works of man. Besides which time doesn’t exist. I’m sure Dennett would agree with him as he is in the thrall of Darwin et al.

    My beef is that millions of generations of bacteria have produced only bacteria and intermediate (i.e., incomplete) fossils have never been found. There are complete discrete forms that are adduced as intermediates but they are believed to be such by the belief that evolution is true – that is begging the question. If it stinks to you, too bad, many sacred cows have been skewered by stinking revelations and this is no different.

    You don’t need a brain for consciousness, you just think you do, consciousness exists quite handily sans brain. Ever see a chicken with its head cut off?

    “Not only that, I think you’re full of shit soaked in excuses for it. So go ahead, waste everyone’s time here, and post again. I make no excuses for my crassness.”

    Nice repartee, I’m sure your mother would be proud.

    I see that I have created a foil to remind me that there are those who eschew civil discourse and are obliged to hurl invectives as they are bereft of imagination and incapable of rational argument with those with whom they disagree. If time (it doesn’t exist) is so precious to you that you altruistically presume to speak for everyone, I suggest that you skip my posts as you seem to lack the ability to apprehend philosophically challenging ideas – open your consciousness, you might just stretch that tiny box in which you confine your reality.

  214. 216. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd: Yes, that’s along the lines of what I’m curious about. “am of the opinion that the meaning of a word is an individual matter” is this to say you think “private language” is possible?

    Whorf’s use of Eskimo words to support his idea was notoriously anecdotal (Lenneberg, and later Pinker, attacked him on that). His position also seems in contention with Chomsky’s “universal grammar”. However, it seems to me that there being a “neurological firewall” between brain areas for linguistics and brain areas for perception is unlikely. If that’s the case there is likely some sort of reciprocal contribution. That seems to be what Whorf was really trying to say…perhaps…?

    Then there is the stronger hypothesis, as I like to put it, that “you are who speaks you”. Or as Dennett wrote: “The very vocabulary at our disposal influences not only the way we talk to others, but the way we talk to ourselves.” In this way, the most accessible or available words and phrases could actually /change the content of the experience/. Would a juicy succulent stake be succulent if the word was not at our disposal? Is our enjoyment of a good meal, for instance, /itself/ a phenomenal aspect of the experience, or is it an /effect/ of, or a /response/ to, this phenomenal experience of enjoyment (succulence)? If the enjoyment were somehow obtunded, would the succulence still be present but just sadly unappreciated? (1991)

    Also, this strong claim ties into what I was speculating on back in post #111: “I think this second sort of awareness is what happens when neural activity that we would normally categorize as being “unconscious”, “bee like” or like a tropism etc., reaches linguistic areas of the brain. Or doesn’t, as in the case of our driver who was linguistically engaged with the radio or passenger.” Language is the difference that makes a difference in getting “phenomenal experiences”; “because it allows us to say so.”

    I’m still not sure what is really supportable, the weak or strong claim..but either way, extremely fascinating (I remember first learning about Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and thinking “If this is the subject matter of psychology, count me in!” ;) ) And I’m curious what people would put stock into.

    . . .

    Vic: thanks for the link. Will read shortly ;)

  215. 217. Mike Spenard says:

    Burt: “You don’t need a brain for consciousness,”
    Normally I’d disagree with such an outlandish claim, but you yourself seem to prove your point.

    “Ever see a chicken with its head cut off?”
    Do you count?

    “I suggest that you skip my posts ”
    This we can agree on.

  216. 218. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I basically agree with the writer’s view of the Evans/Levinson take on languages, keeping in mind that the review was written from the usual over-hyped point of view typical of Sci Am or Physc Today. Here are two (I hope) short stories on the subject.

    Studying linguistics at UCLA in the 60s, there was a flap one year about a woman in her 80s who lived somewhere up in the hills southeast of Orange County. She was the last living speaker of some native American language and the grad students were all agog about getting out to visit her and record her “language”. The thing is, as I said in #212, language requires a community. The woman’s native language probably died 50 years earlier. I don’t begrudge what the students might have gleaned from her, but it would have been impossible at that point to “record the language for posterity”.

    My other point is “so what?” Yes, languages have proliferated since humans invented them and yes, the range of language phenomena might help us understand the brain. But I would compare the situation to the demise of species. I don’t know the current rate of species extinctions, but I would bet the rate today is not all that much different from the overall average (1000s per year?) over the last few 100 million years. Craig Ventor is certainly right that we should get out and study what we can, but I would not lament the loss of those we cannot study.

    In reply to Mike[216], I don’t know the details of this “firewall theory” you speak of, but I do believe that language has been added on top of the basic perception/action mechanisms that have been in place for 100s of millions of years. I am not at all convinced that language has yet been thoroughly integrated into the existing mechanisms which support abstract thought and conceptualization. Some say that abstract thinking arose as a result of language development. I am not convinced.

  217. 219. Lloyd Rice says:

    Sorry. I should have abbreviated Psychology Today as Psych Today.

  218. 220. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: “Some say that abstract thinking arose as a result of language development. I am not convinced.”

    From the dictionary// Abstract:

    1- disassociated from any specific instance.
    2- expressing a quality apart from an object insufficiently factual.
    3- having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content

    So, I would like to pose you a few question:

    – Despite 1,2 and 3, is it always possible to break down an abstract concept in to other non-abstract concepts?

    – Is it possible to always understand an abstract concept as a sum of non abstract processes?

    As I see it an abstract term is an integrated form of linguistic information, so we can save long descriptions, and we can handle the terms in reasoning discourse. For me, an abstract term is to language similar to what an emotion is to intellect.

    Eg: compassion, evil, suffer, you can breakdown those abstract terms (I believe they are abstract, or not?) in subelements, you can visualise compassion as a certain very objective and well define actions and kind of behaviours, but that would be lengthy and cumbersome, so you can pack it in one term.

    Would you be more happy with, “fast and efficient” abstract thinking arose as a result of language development? Unless it comes by definition: Abstract thinking is the one that uses abstract terms, and you push the problem to really define what is an abstract term, and then I go to my previous claim.

    In summary: I believe abstract thought is really a compact version of non abstract thought.

  219. 221. Vicente says:

    Mike[216]

    “Would a juicy succulent stake be succulent if the word was not at our disposal? Is our enjoyment of a good meal, for instance, /itself/ a phenomenal aspect of the experience, or is it an /effect/ of, or a /response/ to, this phenomenal experience of enjoyment (succulence)? If the enjoyment were somehow obtunded, would the succulence still be present but just sadly unappreciated? (1991)

    Are there any experiments to support all these ideas, appart from ordinary suggestion experiences?

    If I like or dislike a dish it makes no difference to me how a describe its taste… but if I am told a million times before trying it that I am going to like it, and I see a tv advert with somebody enjoying the dish, I might like it more under the effect of suggestion, that’s all.

    When you find something really disgusting, have it and then say it is delicious, just to see if the nausea gets obtunded.

    Beyond the well known effect of suggestion the point is nonsense.

    -“Also, this strong claim ties into what I was speculating on back in post #111: “I think this second sort of awareness is what happens when neural activity that we would normally categorize as being “unconscious”, “bee like” or like a tropism etc., reaches linguistic areas of the brain. Or doesn’t, as in the case of our driver who was linguistically engaged with the radio or passenger.” Language is the difference that makes a difference in getting “phenomenal experiences”; “because it allows us to say so.””

    Well, one thing is to have a phenomenal experience, another thing is to understand it and another one is to tell it, why do you produce this mi? I admit that language will help you to understand your ph. expe. (reasoning) and tell others about it, but that is evident isn’t it.

    Aren’t you making a big fuzz about a simple thing

  220. 222. Mike Spenard says:

    “In reply to Mike[216], I don’t know the details of this “firewall theory” you speak of,”

    It was just my way of describing a position which would implicitly hold that language areas didn’t transmit to perceptual areas. /As if/ there were a firewall, in the IT sense, that was blocking traffic in one direction. Or you could put this as the difference between simplex and duplex circuitry. There’s no theory operating under such a modus operandi, as far as I know. But some positions (Chomsky’s pushed to an extreme?) might come close … ?

    “My other point is “so what?”

    Well, It’s very inconclusive..in the sense of Quine’s IoT (a Frenchman will likely not use the word “rouge” /exactly/ like an Englishman uses “red”); so I agree with you there. But, from say Jayne’s perspective, while still very speculatory, studying ancient language is sort of like doing “software archaeology”. That’s the kind of speculation worth having some appreciation for…perhaps?

  221. 223. Mike Spenard says:

    “Are there any experiments to support all these ideas, appart from ordinary suggestion experiences?”

    Good question, It’s why I was fielding the topic ;)
    …Lenneberg’s 1954 might possibly be supportive of it.

    “Aren’t you making a big fuzz about a simple thing”
    Well yes, you’re right I am. But perhaps its under appreciated. It depends on whether “having the phenomenal experience” and “being able to report a phenomenal experience” are the same thing. For an objective observer they will be, but is that entirely the case? If so then it’s worth making fuss over.

  222. 224. Lloyd Rice says:

    I just dug out Consciousness Explained to see what all this stuff about pandemonium was. On page 190 (First Paperback Edition), he describes how the brain expanded in size long before language came on the scene.

    “Then, when the ice ages began, about two and a half million years ago, the Great Encephalization commenced, and was essentially completed 150,000 years ago — before the development of language, of cooking, of agriculture.”

    An enormously complex brain had developed long before language took hold. Why? Good question. But at least one can say that language did not drive the expansion.

    On the other hand, I read somewhere long ago that the cranial nerve which feeds the tongue greatly increased in diameter (judging by the hole where it passes through the skull) about 800,000 years ago. So this contradicts Dennett’s claim.

    To me, it says that language developed gradually, say one “part of speech” per 100,000 years. (I’m joking. I’m sure it went by fits and starts. I’m not a Chomskyite.)

  223. 225. Lloyd Rice says:

    Several people (Frank Gunther comes to mind) have talked about the fact that the tongue articulation controls seem to share (or re-use) brain areas that were previously devoted to control of the hand. That’s what the equivalent of Broca’s area was said to control in chimps, etc.

    Dennett makes the point that the rewiring of certain brain areas to support language is still underway, that language is not as well integrated as one might think, especially a Chomskyite.

  224. 226. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[224] I am lost, what does the pandemonium (of the competing processes in the capital of hell (good the definition for the brain, the capital of hell!!) I understood) have to do with all you are presenting (despite it is very interesting). Did I miss something important in the interview?

  225. 227. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[224] there is something interesting in this tongue nerve diameter increase:

    1) Hypoglossal nerve (XII) is only devoted to tongue motor purposes, pure motor nerve.

    2) Trigeminal nerve (V) is in charge of tongue’s sensorial aspects, among others.

    I pressume it is the hypoglossal nerve the one that increased the size. Then the increase in size was not used to increase tongue sensitivity, maybe as a result of an increase in the variety of available food…. (regardless of smell role).

    Irrespective of the language issue, for what other reason would we need to control our tongue movement much better at a certain point?

    No need to make obscene jokes…

    Could it be that the fossil record is not enough to prove such an increase in size….

  226. 228. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: Indeed. Just after I posted #224, I looked up the cranial nerve details. Upon learning that XII did the work of tongue shaping, I began to wonder just what the original paper said. If for some other reason, IX or X had increased in size, then it says nothing about changes in speech abilities.

    Maybe the obscene jokes are to the point?

    ———-

    I know there have been many other sources which detailed the history of brain and vocal tract development. For example, Phil Lieberman has done a great deal of work looking at human and neanderthal skulls, concentrating on the shape of the space available for larynx, etc. I do not know of a recent work which pulls this all together into a history of language development. I thought Deacon’s “Symbolic Species” was going to be that, but I was disappointed.

  227. 229. Lloyd Rice says:

    And you are correct that I jumped topics. I was looking for pandemonium and ended up at cranial nerves.

  228. 230. Lloyd Rice says:

    I just read the Amazon blurb on Donald Millers’ book “How Our Brain Works” and immediately ordered a copy. Based on chap 1 from the “Look Inside”, this is exactly the book I have been wanting to write for several months now, but so far, what I’ve seen is a lot of “where he’s coming from” and a quickie on neurons. I will be very interested to see what it’s like when he gets to the inner sanctum of consc.

  229. 231. John Davey says:

    “John, re #56: If you built a house, would you say you pounded the nails or the hammer pounded the nails? I see nothing wrong with implicating second (or higher) order causes.”

    I do. Cause is a NECESSARY connection.Water vapour is necessary for the creation of rain (unless you’d like to suggest otherwise). A computer program to create water vapour isn’t. Its just not a cause in that scenario, in any meaningful phenomenological sense.

    “John, re #57: So, assuming you could tell whether or not he was lying, your belief is that if he did not” experience consciousness, he would stumble and mumble around, someting like, “What the *** are you talking about?” Or, to put that another way, if he does not experience consc., he would simply not know how to answer. Anyone disagree with that? Could he (convincingly) fake it?”

    The previous four lines make no sense whatsoever. I really don’t know what point (if any) you are trying to make. Its theme is besides the point in any case. If a being has consciousness then it has that property regardless of my opinion. Does my opinion of the height of a tree change the height of a tree ?

  230. 232. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: “I will be very interested to see what it’s like when he gets to the inner sanctum of consc.”

    It’s like 2 out of 275 pages…. maybe those are the 2 pages that unveil the mistery… ;-)

  231. 233. Vicente says:

    mystery

  232. 234. Vicente says:

    John [231]:

    Does my opinion of the height of a tree change the height of a tree ?

    No except for that it is not an opinion, you and I can go and measure the tree.

  233. 235. john Davey says:

    “Does my opinion of the height of a tree change the height of a tree ?
    No except for that it is not an opinion, you and I can go and measure the tree.”

    Vicente

    Not the point I was trying to make. I am pointing out that an object’s characteristics do not rely on the existence of external observers in order for them to exist. The existence of somebody else’s consciousness does not depend upon me/my opinion/my measurement/my anything to validate it’s existence. It is irrelevant.

  234. 236. Vicente says:

    “The existence of somebody else’s consciousness does not depend upon me/my opinion/my measurement/my anything to validate it’s existence. It is irrelevant.”

    I agree with you but, it is still relevant to check its existence. One thing is that something exists and a different one is that we know that it exists.

    Since we cannot directly access others’ consciousness, we have to find a mechanism to carry on such checking, this is the issue.

  235. 237. john Davey says:

    “Since we cannot directly access others’ consciousness, we have to find a mechanism to carry on such checking, this is the issue.”

    This in only superficially an issue I think. Very little measurement is direct. An atomic radius is not measured with a ruler. It is measured highly indirectly, using the scattering of light on a piece of material. Mathematics is then applied to the result, using a model assuming that said material consists of atoms in the first place. Now if matter does not consist of atoms, then the result obtained in measuring an atomic radius using this method is meaningless. But the overwhelming evidence is that matter does indeed consist of atoms, so the result is meaningful.

    What is needed to measure an atomic radius is, first and foremost, an atomic theory of matter. It is no different with mental phenomena. When we have a theory of mental phenomena, measurement will be possible.

  236. 238. Vicente says:

    “Very little measurement is direct” + “It is no different with mental phenomena”

    You are being tricky using the concept of indirect measurement, it is not the same to indirectly measure the atomic radius, than to indirectly access mental phenomena by subject testimony (or brain states correlation). In the latter the concept of measurement does not apply at all, while in the former does.

    So:

    VERY LITTLE / O = INFINITE (difference)

    “When we have a theory of mental phenomena, measurement will be possible.”

    That could be, I cannot deny, but I doubt it very much. Mental phenomena is not quantitative by nature (qualia…quality, is not quantia…quantity, you see), so I don’t think the process of measurment can ever be considered.

  237. 239. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I do so hope Millers unveils something of great relevance to all of us. I am betting that his model does not include a POVP. I hereby go on record that I announced the idea here on 16 May 2010 5:27 GMT.

    As for measuring consciousness, I am not sure what it would mean, but it does seem to make sense that it might be possible to list and characterize some of the various qualities that we typically include. That is not exactly “measurement” as John puts it, but I think possible and of interest.

    Earlier, I suggested the ideas of “vivid” vs “abstract”. These qualities pertained to imagination, and not necessarily qualia as we imagine that idea, but I think these and maybe other such qualities could be evoked from a second-person (informant) by some manner of interrogation.

  238. 240. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I’m getting together a reply to #220. I started writing, then realized that I do not know as much about abstraction as I thought I did. I believe ‘abstract’ was not a good word for what I had in mind. It has to do with language, thinking, problem solving, …

    More later.

  239. 241. Vicente says:

    Lloyd: could it be “conceptual” what you meant, to do with ideas as opposed to material, concrete…

  240. 242. John Davey says:

    “In the latter the concept of measurement does not apply at all, while in the former does.tomic radius, than to indirectly access mental phenomena by subject testimony (or brain states correlation). In the latter the concept of measurement does not apply at all, while in the former does.”
    Are you taking the liberty of defining what is and is not measurement ?

    ie. Q. ask a subject “do you see blue”
    A. Yes

    Why is that not measurement ?

  241. 243. John Davey says:

    “That could be, I cannot deny, but I doubt it very much. Mental phenomena is not quantitative by nature (qualia…quality, is not quantia…quantity, you see), so I don’t think the process of measurment can ever be considered.”

    It is difficult to see but not impossible. For instance, colour recognition is either true or false : depth of colour can be graded directly by reference. Unconscious or conscious is binary : spatial location can be exact. Recogntition of shapes or sounds is yes or no, the numbet of objects visualised is evidently numeric. How such a theory shapes up is anybody’s guess, but we are in no position to state that it is impossible. What makes us think the brain is immutable to science ?

  242. 244. Lloyd Rice says:

    John (re #243): I would call it description instead of measurement, but I agree with the basic approach.

  243. 245. Vicente says:

    John[242]

    I am not taking any libery, it is a matter of definition, and I agree that we could talk a lot about what to measure means. Even in science when we come to quantum physics to measure becomes a fiddly concept. But at least, in my view, there must be more than one observer being able to access what is going to be measure, and with an agreement on a convention about what is going to be measure and how. In this sense, the object of measurement has to be “quantitative” and we must agree on the units system, that is the “reference”.

    I don’t believe we can measure anything in others minds. Your examples are good, but just have a look at all the visual illusions known and see how unreliable the thing is, and at the end of the day what you have is a testimony, no more. Even the “instrument” conditions vary a lot from one experiment to another, without any means to calibrate it. This is also a major problem for measurement. Perception experiments produce different results depending on the mood of the subject

    I don’t say that you cannot learn a lot and come to very interesting conclusions with the procedures you are hinting, but it is a different approach. The idea of objectivity is in the roots of measurement concept, and it is really objectivity what I am missing

    What makes us think the brain is immutable to science ?

    I don’t quite get what you mean by immutable, but anyway this is the point, we can measure many things in the brain, but nothing in the phenomenal experience that seems to stem from it.

  244. 246. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: Yes, What I’m getting at is that I believe there must be a separate brain component devoted to “concepts”, as opposed to the sort of direct thinking involved in motion control, emotional response, etc. It would be a brain region, or regions, involved in doing math, solving puzzles, and such.

    Bickerton, in “Language and Species”, says that such a brain region must be the same region as used for language. This is where I differ. For example, a chimp can solve a complex puzzle but does not have human-like language.

  245. 247. Lloyd Rice says:

    On terminology: Maybe “thinking” would not apply to the brain functions of motion control or emotional response?? In that case, what I’m talking about is just “thinking”.

  246. 248. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[244]+John: Yes, a loose description being confident on the testimony, why not. The point is that something has to be done to go on working, it is either accepting the limitations or coming to a blockade, what else. I just say that we must have clear the concepts we are using, and the boundaries and constraints we are subject to. I am not a science taliban, actually I believe science range could be far too short to quench the cravings for understanding that some feel.

  247. 249. Lloyd Rice says:

    I’m reading one of the papers Paul Bello cited on the new page of this blog, “Self-Assembly …”. In the terminology of that paper, what I wanted to talk about is “reasoning”. This is the paper that purports to demonstrate that reasoning can be done with the same machinery needed for perception.

    Maybe this thread should switch to that page?

  248. 250. John Davey says:

    “I don’t say that you cannot learn a lot and come to very interesting conclusions with the procedures you are hinting, but it is a different approach. The idea of objectivity is in the roots of measurement concept, and it is really objectivity what I am missing”

    There is no loss of objectivity whatsoever. The person doing the perceiving is not doing the measuring. That is somebody else. The process is objective as any other. The point is the margin of error is difficult (but not impossible) to quantify. At the end of the day we are talking about the physics of complex systems after all – biological physics – so we can’t expect picture perfect results( not that there ever are).

    What this method constitutes is a starting point. You say it can’t work, but it already has. Neuroscientists already have a good idea of ‘broad sweep’ mental activity to the point that they are no longer relying on testimony to decide what the brain is doing. Aneasthetists don’t rely on it at all. There are some who claim that they can isolate individual decisions but I think there is a good chance they are jumping the gun.

    “I don’t quite get what you mean by immutable, but anyway this is the point, we can measure many things in the brain, but nothing in the phenomenal experience that seems to stem from it.”

    I think we are going in circles here : the obvious point is that there are very, very few examples of what might be termed ‘direct measurement’ in nature. Very few.

  249. 251. Lloyd Rice says:

    John: If I’m right about my POVP idea, it is my hope that one day someone will locate (and measure) the neural activity that corresponds to the “world model”, or at least some part of it, and perhaps even to the “post-processing” which produces the view that we “see” as consciousness.

  250. 252. Burt says:

    Vicente:

    I have rethought my position on the conservation of consciousness: Mass and Energy are conserved; this should be obvious as they are interchangeable aspects of each other (all matter is frozen energy and all energy is light.)

    When consciousness is manifesting in physicality, i.e., expressing itself as mass/energy the law of conservation obtains. When it is not in our physical dimension, it is no longer bound by our laws of physics (as I opined earlier in the Decommissioning Physicalism entry: In this particular dimension (which we call physically reality), physical laws are a manifestation of particular aspects our personalities agree to accept for convenience. Consciousness just plays along with our beliefs.)

    Most of the commenters here (with you being a possible exception) seem to believe that consciousness is necessarily created by a “brain.” As a thought experiment, take the tack that the “brain” is created by consciousness in order for the personality to experience physical reality via its belief system and see where it takes you. Objectivity is an illusion created by the belief in it, all measurements and indeed all experience is subjective; there is no other possibility.

  251. 253. Lloyd Rice says:

    Burt: What I never got straight was ‘What are birth and death?’ If consciousness creates the brain, did the particular individual consciousness exist before the body was born? Did the individual consciousness somehow have to separate itself off from the collective consciousness in order to “experience” the body?

  252. 254. Mike Spenard says:

    Loyd: “John: If I’m right about my POVP idea, it is my hope that one day someone will locate (and measure) the neural activity that corresponds to the “world model”, or at least some part of it, and perhaps even to the “post-processing” which produces the view that we “see” as consciousness.”

    Who’s viewing this world model or “view”? A little homunculus?

  253. 255. Mike Spenard says:

    From [Burt #252]:
    “In this particular dimension (which we call physically reality), physical laws are a manifestation of particular aspects our personalities [...] Objectivity is an illusion created by the belief in it, all measurements and indeed all experience is subjective; there is no other possibility.”

    Sounds exactly like Münsterberg from 1906:
    “The underlying ideal of the world as a whole, that postulated background of every inquiry, must thus be conceived as dependent on ourselves, and yet evidently not on you or me or any other chance personality. […] the reality as a whole, in its stubborn power, not asking how much or how little we have found out about it, — that is no longer dependent on any one who has a special family name, but on that in us which must be postulated as common to all who are to share the world. […] The structure of the world may be ultimately dependent on that in our consciousness which is common to all who have the world in common, and thus on a timeless, general consciousness which comprehends only the conditions under which experience is possible at all. […] the very first requirement of anything that wants to belong to the objective world, and thus to be independent of the chance of the instant, is that it can be found again in another experience. This demand must be fulfilled in every case where we acknowledge an independent reality.”

    This sorta anachronistic position is only tenable so long as one believes that man, with his conscious mind, was created at the same point as that of the universe. So it’s no wonder Burt has taken issue with evolution.

    Also, it simply does not follow that, in purging the world of sentient creatures, the world ceases to exist in every way once conceived. The extermination of a describer and his descriptions does not necessitate the extermination of that which satisfies such descriptions. For example, we can expect such facts as those dependent on a society, e.g. the value of currency and art and nations, to cease. But with the removal of these you still have that which such facts are ultimately dependent on, i.e., that which is describable by physics (e.g., gold and banking system computers). Subsequently, the slight of hand trick is to get you to not see that it is really self refuting: “dependent on that in our consciousness which is common to all who have the world in common”, yet as Burt made clear this “world in common” doesn’t exist, “Objectivity is an illusion”. So to avail themselves of a theoretical drowning they cook up some panpsychism, and force us to start talking about rocks and moons and forks and knives as conscious (yet they seldom wish to say computers are implicated and are conscious. I guess computers alone somehow operate outside the pan-conscious reality!).

    Lloyd, Vicente, do you really think this is at all worth holding a candle to at this point? Or should we still entertain Dualism and Idealism?

  254. 256. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike (re #254): It’s quite interesting that in order to create the “view” of the world that IS consciousness (that’s about as close as I can say it), you have to imagine somebody to see it. It seems clear to me that one wants to hypothesize machinery to generate the “display” in the form that we “view” it as we look at the world. But once that view has been generated, it is then immediately processed by the other machinery which does world-related actions like moving muscles. It is because the model of world+self is nearly complete (as described by Metzinger) that the world “appears”.

    I know that sounds like double talk. But it’s really just saying what Dennett and others have been saying. They say it better than I do.

  255. 257. Vicente says:

    lloyd[256]

    “once that view has been generated, it is then immediately processed by the other machinery which does world-related actions like moving muscles”

    What a nice PZ you have created !! no room at all left for consciousness.

    If for example I am sitting still, relaxed, enjoying an art piece, simple contemplation, how does your model fit?

    If for example I am sitting still, relaxed, eyes closed, reflecting on some philosophical theory, or just imagining a nice scenary, how does your model fit?

    If I am asleep, dreaming, how does your model fit?

  256. 258. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: Let me try once more. The global workspace processor (in GWT terms) has the function of evaluating the world+self model in order to make action decisions. The most efficient way to accomplish that is if a self-centered (body-centered) point of view has been used to present the world+self model. I believe it is at this point, the evaluation of the world model in order to make decisions, that the sensed world is “viewed” and is at the same time the “viewer”. I am having a serious problem here with first-person vs. third-person language. Because I believe this “view” really does both roles, the seer and the seen.

  257. 259. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: If a worker has finished his tasks and there is nothing to do, does he cease to exist? The “viewer” is still there trying to see if anything needs to be done.

  258. 260. Lloyd Rice says:

    And, yes, in a way I am specifically leaving no room for consciousness. The way Dennett first put it was that there is no such thing. That pill was a bit hard to swallow, so he softened the position a bit. But in my view, consciousness does pretty much disappear. It just “happens” because there is machinery to present and evaluate all the pieces, all the aspects, of the world.

  259. 261. Lloyd Rice says:

    Dreaming is interesting because all of the machinery at the GWT level is working, but the muscle actions have been disconnected at a lower level. At the uppermost levels, the appropriate muscle actions are being generated, so consciousness happens.

  260. 262. Lloyd Rice says:

    Continuing #261: But the body feedback signals are missing, so things can get to seem a little weird. In fact, dreaming really offers an interesting window into the contributions those body feedback signals make into producing the waking versions of consciousness and how those versions differ from the dreaming versions.

  261. 263. Vicente says:

    Mike[255]: Well, in my case I feel forced to entertain dualism as a result of my incompetence to find a reasonable formula to match phenomenal experience with the physical world/brain. Of course, dualism is not providing me such a solution either, by I cannot neglect it as a candidate either. In addition, I have a personal feeling that there is “something more”. The important word in the last sentence is “personal”, so don’t ask me about it, simply because I will not be able to say anything sensible.

    I quite agree with your interpretation about panpsychism. But if you take a pure physicalist approach, it is so difficult to understand how matter has organised itself in such structures like living beings, or cities… it is so difficult so see how from the laws of physics something like Wall St. stock market, or the Tower of London have emerge. So, irrespective of consciousness, for me pansychism could be a request to add some “bits and parts” to physics in order to explain “social order” and its products. This is really self-assembly an self-organised architectures and not what is proposed in the current page about AGI. If it is the case.

  262. 264. Vicente says:

    Lloyd [259]

    Needs to be done for what? oh oh careful, you have introduce the PURPOSE idea.

  263. 265. Vicente says:

    Lloyd[259]

    “If a worker has finished his tasks and there is nothing to do, does he cease to exist?”

    Yes he does, it ceases to exist as a worker, temporarily at least. So in the meantime (vacation), how does your model fit?

  264. 266. Vicente says:

    cont.[157]:

    Lloyd, regarding training, habits, unconscious behaviour, and other PZ games, you might find this interesting:

    http://mcgovern.mit.edu/newsroom/press-release-archive/314-mcgovern-scientists-identify-habit-circuits-in-brain

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/habit.html

  265. 267. Mike Spenard says:

    @Lloyd:
    “I am having a serious problem here with first-person vs. third-person language. Because I believe this “view” really does both roles, the seer and the seen.”

    Ah, that’s fair. Sometimes when we talk about “models”, “maps”, “vistas” etc. we almost go off the rails, as a map implies a map viewer, a model a model user, a vista a looker; then we’re in the trappings of the homunculus fallacy or Cartesian materialism again. So its a habit of mine to go “woah woah, what exactly is being said here” ;)

    I’d like to offer up the idea, on your “roles” difficulty, that:
    -Darwin showed how we can get design without a designer; he called Paley’s bluff.
    -Turing showed how we can get competence without a comprehend-er; ignorant parts can have behaviors that, from a higher level of description, appear as if they must comprehend what they are doing.

    And there’s a deep symmetry between Darwin and Turing’s discoveries. On a historical note, I like to think of these as further Capurnican revolutions, i.e. decentralization discoveries. I guess my point is that workspace models of the mind may well be very explanatory, so long as we don’t continue with the age old mistake of sticking something at the center.

  266. 268. Lloyd Rice says:

    Thanks, Mike. I’m still not sure exactly what I’m saying.

    Vicente: I will read the MIT articles. Reply to follow.

  267. 269. Vicente says:

    Mike, the point is that I happen to be looking at the screen, so if I am not a looker, what am I?

    You can run away from the cartesian fallacy as far as you wish, and you are probably right, but for the moment you are just leaving burnt land behind.

    “Turing showed how we can get competence without a comprehend-er; ignorant parts can have behaviors that, from a higher level of description, appear as if they must comprehend what they are doing.”

    A higher level of description is a perspective, a view point, who is the describer… so the parts look like they are competent, but they are still ignorant… or not.

    For me the real problem is the infinite recursion inherent to the homunculus fallacy, and of course the question about the nature of such an entity. This JCS paper has some ideas about the fallacy.

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/nlin/papers/0303/0303042.pdf

    I don’t see any symmetry between Darwing and Turing… maybe the day we have the self-programmed, self-assembly, self-created systems discussed in current page, we could start talking about Darwinian evolution in AI machines…. and even then, we will know the starting point, which one was the first of those machines generation… which is not the case in biology (for the moment). Please, don’t see any support to intelligent design ideas in my comment, I am just trying to point out, that you discard ideas (fair, you have good reasons) but you present no alternative. Better a void than a lie, in any case.

  268. 270. Lloyd Rice says:

    Vicente: I found the Graybiel paper (ref at your “newsroom press release” ref) to be extremely interesting in revealing the specific functions of two parts of the striatum. The dorsalmedial portion, connected to association cortex, is active when you need to stop and figure out what to do next, while the dorsallateral part, connected to sensorimotor cortex, is active when you know what to do and are ready to plow ahead. These sections of the basal ganglia have long been an intriguing mystery to me.

    However, I do not see how these findings relate to the issue of #259. Specifically, consciousness is still active during both of the above conditions, even though attention may play different roles during these two brain states. The relaxed condition you refer to in #257 does not shut down consciousness.

    Furthermore, it is not that I have shut consciousness out of the picture. What I have eliminated is the separate brain function typically postulated to explain it.

    BTW, excuse my ignorance. What do you mean by “PZ”?

  269. 271. Lloyd Rice says:

    “PZ”? Of course, Philosophical Zombies.

    It seems I’ve been having increasing hippocampal issues of late. I dread the day when such matters will take me out of the running entirely.

  270. 272. Mike Spenard says:

    “Mike, the point is that I happen to be looking at the screen, so if I am not a looker, what am I?”

    The question above is at the personal level, so yes of course “You” are of course a looker. It’s to look at things from what Dennett calls the Intentional Stance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_stance). The problem is when it comes time to resolve “you” into its constituent parts at a sub-personal level; what Dennett called the Design Stance. How do you get the “central meaner” or agency we describe with the I.S. via a distributed system that lacks parts with agency and a functional center?

    Trying to answer this is basically what Llyod is doing with his workspace model ideas. And Marr was basically going on about the same thing with his “computational” vs “information-processing” descriptions. And while the might be wrong in their details, these approaches appreciate multiple levels of description. As Marr said “you can’t understand bird flight by only studying feathers”.
    Looking for the answers in physics or para-physics, by positing mindules or microtubules or para-stuff, simply says “hey were looking at things from the Physical Stance and not finding the stuff of experience. We must need a to expand physics into para-Physical Stance or a psych-Physic Stance”.

    So, as far as burnt land. Yes, that’s an appropriate metaphor. Before you can till and plant seeds, you need to clear the conceptual landscape. And Lloyd’s and Marr’s will probably make a lot more sense when people aren’t suffering from conceptual asphyxia brought on by a crop of weeds.

  271. 273. Mike Spenard says:

    oops. psych-Physical Stance. …this thing really needs an edit button for lazy proof readers like me heh.

  272. 274. Mike Spenard says:

    Also, here is a draft of my attempt to give an account of color objectively and subjectively:
    http://www.memeoid.net/books/Spenard/Spenard_OnTheInventionOfColor_DRAFT.pdf

    The intro and conclusion section is in need of further work, but the general themes should be clear enough. Any criticism or comments are welcome ;)

  273. 275. Burt says:

    @Mike[255]

    “This sorta anachronistic position is only tenable so long as one believes that man, with his conscious mind, was created at the same point as that of the universe. So it’s no wonder Burt has taken issue with evolution.”

    That is NOT my position or my issue with evolution. My position is that man’s conscious mind creates the universe (his universe no one else’s). We all create a collective universe that we believe to be “out there” but the only universe that can be apprehended is in each of our own minds, which is subjective and can only be subjective. My issue with evolution is that it cannot be proved, demonstrated, or supported by the necessary facts to comport with evidence (lack thereof) and is currently believed due to the case there is only a creationist “just so story” (bunk as proffered but containing elements of reality) adduced to explain life and its diversity.

    “Also, it simply does not follow that, in purging the world of sentient creatures, the world ceases to exist in every way once conceived.”

    When a sentient creature is purged from the world, i.e., ceases to exist, the world for it ceases to exist, as it created the world when it manifested itself. If the world were purged of sentient creatures it would cease to exist as it is merely an idea conceived by its creators (who are we.)

    “yet as Burt made clear this “world in common” doesn’t exist, “Objectivity is an illusion”. So to avail themselves of a theoretical drowning they cook up some panpsychism, and force us to start talking about rocks and moons and forks and knives as conscious (yet they seldom wish to say computers are implicated and are conscious. I guess computers alone somehow operate outside the pan-conscious reality!).”

    The world in common exists in superposition as each of us imagines “the world” collectively. Again the only world each of us can apprehend is the one in our mind totally subjectively. If we believe there is an objective reality it is still a subjective belief. The nearest to an objective statement that can be made (and it’s still subjective) is that “Everything is subjective.”

    Rocks, moons, forks and knives are conscious, they are made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons just as you are, the difference is that you believe that consciousness is created by a “brain” with sufficient neural nexus for it to emerge and probably only a primate or mammalian brain at that (some those cephalopods are pretty smart).

    Computers are as conscious as their component parts (not ICs), but they don’t have a sense of themselves as computers and neither do the knives have any sense that: “I am a knife”. Panpsychism doesn’t say that collections of atom and molecules have a sense of self in their aggregate phenotypical form, just that everything is sentient – on the level of cooperation with others of their ilk. It is we who imbue our creations with form and meaning.

    P.S. Thanks for the lack of overt snark

  274. 276. Mike Spenard says:

    “Thanks for the lack of overt snark”
    Uh O! Now my snark is backed up and in a bunch! :

    “My issue with evolution is that it cannot be proved, demonstrated, or supported by the necessary facts to comport with evidence (lack thereof) and is currently believed due to the case there is only a creationist “just so story” ”

    Imagine meeting, at a bar orbiting just outside the Kepler Belt, a Martian who was a self proclaimed Hydrophobicist: this person did not believe that water existed on Earth.

    1)oxygen atoms exist
    2)hydrogen atoms exist
    3)covalent bonds exist

    A) It is possible for these three phenomena to operate together; e.g. two hydrogen atoms may form a covalent bond with one oxygen atom.
    B) The result of these phenomena operating on each other may produce an emergent phenomena not predictable by only the study of each separately.

    In speaking to this Martian you ask him if he believed that 1, 2 and 3 existed on Earth. And he says, “Yes yes, of course, us Martian Hydrophobicists don’t deny the existence of the atomic elements and atomic bonding”. And when you inquire about his beliefs 1,2 and 3 operating on each other in conjunction he confirms that A and B are possible too. “Hydrophobicists don’t deny the validity of chemistry and statistical mechanics, it’s the doctrine that Water exists that we take issue with”, he says.

    As laughable and nonsensical as this otherworldly account is this is exactly the situation we find ourselves in with Burtology.

    4)Heredity exists
    5)Variation of individuals in a population exists
    6)Competition for limited resources exists and some variants are better at surviving then others

    A) It is possible for these three phenomena to operate together; e.g. competition will make some things live better then others and this may effect the unintended changes in heredity.
    B) The result of these phenomena operating on each other may produce an emergent phenomena not predictable by only the study of each separately.

    In orbit around an undisclosed internet consciousness blog we meet a self proclaimed Burtologist who, of course, denies the existence of Evolution. In asking about the belief in 4, 5 and 6 he asserts, “Us Burtologists don’t deny the existence of DNA and genetics. Nor do we deny the existence of variation and competition in the natural world.” And when you inquire about his beliefs in 4, 5 and 6 working in conjunction he confirms such, A and B, are indeed possible. “Burtologists don’t deny the validity of the science of biology and molecular genetics, it’s the doctrine of Evolution we oppose”, he says.

    The Martian and Burtologist here have made the same mistake: Each believes individually in the lower level phenomena that are constitutive of the higher level phenomena that they deny. And even though they accept that in studying each of the constituents individually one cannot predict, from the micro-level parts, all of the emergent macro-level phenomena (i.e. a belief in B) they deny just that; the emergent macro-level phenomena marching under a new noun. However, despite opposing this new noun, if someone believes in (1,2,3) or (4,5,6) and A they implicitly believe in the existence of water and evolution respectively. These they are denying only in name.

  275. 277. Kar Lee says:

    It is a wonderful thread to follow. I think it is the first time that the old threat keeps propagating while the newest thread is sitting in the cold.

    Mike, I finished reading about half of your draft article. I appreciate the examples you have in there to illustrate your points. One point I like to comment on is about the Problem of Inverted Spectrum, that you have in one of your footnotes. You did not really discuss it. But do you see it as a real problem? Or it is just a pseudoproblem? To me this is the key. Everything else is just technicality.

  276. 278. Mike Spenard says:

    Disgustipated snark:

    The Angel of Burt came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber. And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself. And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest. And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil. One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear. And terror possesed me then. And I begged, “Angel of Burt, what are these tortured screams?” And Burt said unto me, “These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots! You see, Reverend Spenard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust.”

    And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared, Hear me now, I have seen the light! They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! LET THE RABBITS WEAR GLASSES! Save our brothers!

    Can I get an amen? Can I get a hallelujah?
    Thank you Burt.

  277. 279. Mike Spenard says:

    Hey Kar, ya this thread has certainly taken on a life, err consciousness lol, of its own ;)

    “One point I like to comment on is about the Problem of Inverted Spectrum, that you have in one of your footnotes.”

    Well, I don’t equate color hue’s with parts of the spectrum in any direct way. Nor are there objects or essences to get swapped around. Nor are hue’s “standardized” or as I put it follow a “Gold standard”. Chromatic response varies from subject to subject. And this makes programs of reification, which aims to make “redness” a certain type of object or type of essence, in contention with this fact that there is no real, proper or universally experienced “redness”. This doesn’t seem to lend itself to the idea that InvSpec is possible.

    From those observations things get difficult for ontology, as the Benham Top makes explicit. What do we make reference /of/? For me, there’s no easy explanation, and the best I can do at this point is to give a series of analogies to elucidate the ontology of a color. “Complementarity” and currency comes closest in ontology I think; not that they are directly analogous, as those phenomena are probably not nearly as multi-dimensional/faceted and complex as color ontology.

    At the end I only address InvSpec in passing, it admittedly needs more attention and work for a newer draft. Which is why your post and comments are important.

    To get to an answer I’d start by asking: “Can we swap all of the physical bits between a $5 bill and a $10 bill and still have it keep the same value?” Surely not. But, “Can we have currency of equal value despite not having the same exact physical structure (e.g. coinage vs cash)?” Surely. Additionally, the stuff in “Use and mention” suggests that, since we cant divorce color from proper use, we can’t really pull off this InvSpec thought experiment in a way that pays attention to such details. So, to me this suggests InvSpec is a pseudoproblem, but of course this needs more laboring.

  278. 280. Mike Spenard says:

    Me[279]: “there is no real”
    I should have said “Realistic”. My position hovers in between Realism and Idealism. “Instrumentalist” (if one needs to toss around -ists) is probably close to my thinking.

  279. 281. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: This is only an offhand comment on your draft. I cannot begin to reach the levels obvious in replies #27x :-).

    I was not aware of the Benham’s top effect. This says to me that in order to reach a new level of completeness, your figure 2 would need to include temporal effects, some sort of integrators at the summing and difference nodes. Whether this could be done with any reasonable level of accuracy given the dotted lines is of course problematic. But it does help considerably in reaching a level of understanding as to the personal/social nature of language as you originally asked back in #209.

  280. 282. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike (re #279, Chromatic response varies …): I believe you are saying what I tried to say back in #1 and first brought up in “Decomissioning …” #50. As I see it, InvSpec is just one of a very large (infinite?) number of possible spectral mappings, depending on the exact details of the initial color learning experience.

  281. 283. Lloyd Rice says:

    I would suggest that the “signals” I referred to are most likely created based on the data paths you identify as “channels” in fig 2 of the Draft.

  282. 284. Mike Spenard says:

    @Lloyd:
    “As I see it, InvSpec is just one of a very large (infinite?) number of possible spectral mappings, depending on the exact details of the initial color learning experience.”

    Well, it’s not just a matter of inter-personal fiat or learning. The OppColSys is pushing to fix unique hue /foci/, which vary slightly from subject to subject. And learning and language are pushing to fix the bounds of hue /areas/. So there are very real constraints. We can’t /practically/ carve up the spectrum in any number of infinite ways; our natural history’s common gift of a visual system is tying us down.

    However, and this I think is where your point has teeth (and is somewhat explicit in my thesis that “color was invented”): Logically speaking, the spectrum could be divided into an infinite number of hue’s. We have 6. Yet, it could be 8,14,64,128 or a million given a different natural history. This means advocates of qualia have to now start explaining an infinite number of essences, a great many of which nature just hasn’t created yet. And the fact that they need to be created by natural processes really puts a dent in the idea of essences of experience / qualia; nature inventing the hues in the spectrum means a physicalist approach to color can’t be avoided.

    . . .

    “I was not aware of the Benham’s top effect.”
    If you live in the Boston area the BosMuOfSci has a huge 4 foot one on a wall. Years ago I saw it and its been my little standard example of the problem of color ontology. You can make one yourself pretty simply too. Us Cog.Sci. geeks go on about what we have been here, but from the outside it’s all quite weird and silly sounding. Benham’s Top is a great demo (that even a kid can understand) to show people that makes the ontology problem plain.

  283. 285. Mike Spenard says:

    [Llyod] “I would suggest that the “signals” I referred to are most likely created based on the data paths you identify as “channels” in fig 2 of the Draft.”

    That’s a fair assumption. At this base level of “signals” there is only going to be very rudimentary, but still representationally significant, processes (e.g “zero-crossing” signals); which produce basic “primitives” of discernment (e.g. a token signaling an edge) (Marr 1980). That’s what you were trying to say no? ;)

  284. 286. Lloyd Rice says:

    Sounds good on the “signals” issue. I do not yet have a clear sense of just what the (so-called) workspace processor does with those signals. They somehow get “sensed” as colors. (That question is, in a way, the heart of the matter for most people.) But I agree as nearly as possible at this point on the circuitry needed, edge detection, etc.

    After I wrote #282 #283, I looked again at “Draft” and realized that the spectral sequence was a constraint.

    I have been considering building a small top with a DC motor and a pot to control direction and speed. I thought it might be interesting to explore the min and max speed settings which produce the effect. Another issue to explore would be the line width, how much B/W background is needed vs. line widths. I am guessing that your version in fig 4 is reasonably optimized in that sense.

  285. 287. Lloyd Rice says:

    And does it work the same if the “lines” are white on black instead of black on white? Is the color vs. direction then opposite? Could you have “lines” in both B and W areas? …..

  286. 288. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike (a follow-up to #169): Are you also the “Mike” of “Ego Tunnel part 2″ #7?

    At the very least, I must assume you have read Metzinger.

  287. 289. Mike Spenard says:

    I’ve built one doing exactly that with a DC motor and a pot. When the direction is reversed the color pattern is inverted. Eg. if green is outside ring and red inside ring, then green is inside and red outside. Although some of that depends on the pattern you use, there are a few. It’s quite fun to play with!

    The quickest thing to do: Google-Image the top. Print it. Cut it out. Get a pizza box and tape it to it. Cut that out. Find a drill. Stick the cardboard onto the end of the chuck. Bango. Instant Benham Top ;)

    Yes, fig.4 is optimized. The colors in real life aren’t nearly so saturated.

    [287] What’s key is a pattern that produces a strobe affect. Usually half of the disk is solid black and the other half has a pattern. When spun the disc itself is more or less grayish in background; the B&W areas aren’t really visible anymore, and the colored circular lines appear over this background.

  288. 290. Mike Spenard says:

    [288] Nope. That’s an imposture!!

  289. 291. Mike Spenard says:

    Also, if I remember right. The bisected discs are red/green producing. And the discs with 4 slices are yellow/blue producing.
    This is demonstrative of there being 4 unique hues, rather then, what we are taught in art class: 3 primary colors.

    Also also, if I remember right. When playing with the discs yellow and blue are the most saturated “phantom colors”. Which is not typical of how we normally describe those colors in “natural scenes”. This is a wild guess, but the R/G channel is the same channel for B/W; so this might be why.

  290. 292. Mike Spenard says:

    “This is a wild guess, but the R/G channel is the same channel for B/W; ”

    Correction. Not the same channel. Same photo-receptors: L and M. per Fig 2.

  291. 293. Lloyd Rice says:

    Most interesting. Thanks for all the info.

  292. 294. Vicente says:

    Just a question: When I dream an scene with its images, I need not none of all the photoreceptors stimulation and subsequent processes. So that part is just pure sensorial functions and for data loading, isn’t it. I can have a visual phenomenal experience just retrieving data from memory… or I can stimulate directy the visual cortex using electrodes, or TME… so it seems that all its needed is the visual cortex being stimulated in one way or another, just for the color experience I mean.

  293. 295. Kar Lee says:

    Mike, comparing the problem of inverted spectrum with currency is an interesting one. But I am afraid it is the wrong aspects of the two problems that are being compared. Currency is a mutually agreed upon concept. One dollars is one dollars, whether it is in a coin or in a bill as long as the value of that common medium of exchange is agreed upon, externally. One red dot is one red dot, whether you really feel the same “red” as I do or not. Once externally calibrated, it is the name we use to refer to a common quality. However, this is not the aspect we are focusing on in the inverted spectrum problem. It is the “raw feel” that we are comparing. Whether the inverted spectral problem is a real problem or a pseudoproblem depends on whether comparing “raw feel” is meaningful.

    We do realize that it is meaningful to say A is more upset (a type of emotional raw feeling) than B because there are behavioral consequences in this case. Therefore, by induction, generalizing to other types of raw feels, comparing raw feels of color should be meaningful as well, except that in this case, there is no behavioral consequences. There is no way one can carry out color raw feeling comparison because of the external calibration process: Once some object is referred to as red, we just call it red by convention. It is entirely possible that when I look at a red shirt, I feel “blue” internally but since every body defines it as red, I just say it is red (I am learning others language). In terms of practicality, it is not a problem which may hinder our communication. In this sense, it is a pseudoproblem. However, what this leads to is that besides the physical signals going around in one’s brain (whether the processing starts at the retina or further up is irrelevant), which science can study, there is another interpretation layer that results in the raw feels which is completely outside of what is recognized as science today. The inverted spectrum problem merely illustrates the point that there is a big gap (or call it mystery) between those signals in the head and the raw feels. In this sense, it is a real problem. But of course, what is outside of science today may be inside science in the future. Once upon a time, with the claim from Einstein that “God does not play dice”, we had the hidden variable hypothesis in quantum mechanics, which is completely indistinguishable from the Copenhagen picture in practice, until J.S. Bell came up with the ingenious Bell’s inequality to settle the issue once and for all. For now, whether one says red because he is really feeling “red” or just because everybody else is calling it red while he actually feels blue are the two cases that is indistinguishable. It does not exclude the possibility that some J.S. Bell in the future may come up with a clever way of distinguishing these two scenarios. To me, this is a real problem.

  294. 296. Mike Spenard says:

    “One red dot is one red dot, whether you really feel the same “red” as I do or not. Once externally calibrated, it is the name we use to refer to a common quality. ”

    Well this is where things go off the rails. There are no things as “a spot of red”. Nor is there a common standard quality that we all make absolute reference too and call this “red”.

    “However, this is not the aspect we are focusing on in the inverted spectrum problem. It is the “raw feel” that we are comparing.”

    What “raw feel”?

    “What reason have we called “E” the sign for a sensation? For, “sensation” is a word of our common language, not of one intelligible to me alone. So the use of the word stands in need of a justification which everybody understands. (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1.261)”

    As I put it: We can only make reference within a system of convention. As only when we have an accepted practice, in which we can publicly point (with actions or words) to things and have it understood, can reference be made. Without a public practice pointing and speaking is idle movement or noise. Otherwise what we would say would make no difference, and if no difference is made it cannot be said you are being understood and have anything to say. Put simply, to reuse an old phrase, the proof of a pudding is in the eating.

    If a “raw feel” is exclusively private then I’m afraid one can’t make reference to it in any meaningful way. So I’m afraid I’m not sure what you are talking about with the term “raw feel” what exactly does this term mean?

  295. 297. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: re “everybody else is calling it red while he actually feels blue”. But that will not happen. Whatever the nature/characteristic of the internal “feel”, he has always known it as “red”, so that’s what it is. There was never any reason for him to think of it as “blue”, whatever its internal quality. So yes, I agree your two cases are irretrievably indistinguishable.

  296. 298. Lloyd Rice says:

    Mike: I bought a couple of Sayre books and tried reading “Belief and Knowledge”. Unfortunately, I soon got bogged down in the mire of -isms and -ologies. After about 30 pages of chapter 1, I decided to abort and try again with chapter 8, presumably a discussion of what is wrong with the computational approach to knowledge. Again, I did not get far, swamped in the layers of internal and external representations. Yikes.

    I do believe the story could have been told in a much more accessible manner. I think it will stand where it is for now, at least as far as Sayre and I are concerned.

    I recently read a paper saying that a pattern recognition system can create meaning by comparing detected patterns with past remembered patterns. Initially, the system would simply store repeated patterns, along with any repeated aspects of the context. Later, repeated patterns would acquire meaning by access to the stored contexts.

    It seems so much clearer to me when put that way.

  297. 299. Kar Lee says:

    Mike,
    “…..If a “raw feel” is exclusively private then I’m afraid one can’t make reference to it in any meaningful way….”

    Ah..that is where we differ. Before I simply give up and just agree that this is where we disagree, I like to make one more attempt. If I said I have a headache…”My head is exploding…” I am quite sure you “understand” what I mean. However, there is no public reference point. There is no objective exploding head for you to feel until you feel your own. Similarly, if someone’s 5-year-old son is just struck by a car and killed right in front of him, and if he describes to a by-stander that his sorrow is like several knifes cutting into his heart, I am sure you will understand the description as well. But what are these people describing? They are describing the raw feeling inside. But what is the common reference point? None. Is it meaningful to talk about these kinds of raw feelings? You bet. We do that all the time. We all have a model about our fellow human beings: They all feel like we do. Now, what exactly does this statement mean? “They all feel like we do”. What it means is, we can imagine being that particular person, and I can imagine feeling from within him. This model (they feel like we do) serves us well. We can simulate inside our head what it “must” be like from that person’s viewpoint. It often lead to predictive power of others behavior.

    However, there is no way to check this model. Do we really feel same kind of red when we point to the same red dot and say “that is red”? We don’t know. One way to avoid this question is to say that it is a meaningless question. However, this is definitely not the position that I will take.

  298. 300. Kar Lee says:

    Lloyd [#297], It is just a simple descriptive way of trying to say something very complicated. But this is Comment #300! And I have the honor to take the spot. Thanks Lloyd!

  299. 301. Lloyd Rice says:

    Kar Lee: It was a “thrill” getting 200. Welcome to the 100s club.

    I thought what you were trying to say, complicated or not, was that although we can talk about our “feels”, we can never really share them. And color is one that is particularly difficult to talk about, other than to use the usual language conventions, which really say nothing like “a knife in the heart”. There is no parallel for color.

  300. 302. Lloyd Rice says:

    On the other hand, there may be parallels. If we can learn exactly what devices like the Benham disk really do, we may be able to use such things to communicate our color “feels”.

  301. 303. Vicente says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphene

    It is a much more basic mechanism. Color experience is a brain function, that has to be explored and understood. Of course, the sense of sight is the most important source of arguments for that function, but it is not strictly necessary for the experience.

    B Top and similar artifacts are interesting for perception and vision research, but for pure color experience generation I don’t believe they are much relevant. It is all in the visual cortex (regardless synaesthesia for example).

    Maybe one day we will “watch” cinema, or go through vivid experiences by wearing some kind of hat that stimulates the brain. Or even a complete interface with the world: remote controls, communications, etc directly handled by “thought”.

    Kar Lee[299] The fact that so many analogies and metaphores are needed to describe raw feelings just proves how personal they are. It is like this…, It is like that… you understand how it feels to suffer this… maybe, or maybe not. Definitely the experience is not conveyed in a precise manner.

    If I say a 1m radius circumference, that’s it…

  302. 304. Lloyd Rice says:

    re #68: There is prior argument for a POVP. I just started Johnson-Laird’s 2009 “How We Reason”. On page 28, he says, “… our brains could use an underlying three-dimensional model of an object to construct a two-dimensional image of its appearance from a particular point of view”. He clearly thought of it first.

    It’s also possible that either Maar or Ballard described such a layer. It’s been a long time since I read either of those.

  303. 305. Burt says:

    @Mike[276]

    I see I was premature in assuming that you’d toned down your snarky predilections. Apparently you are unable to engage in substantive dialogue and must resort to immature “Just So” badinage.

    4) Heredity Exists: Yes it does within a species (discrete family of consciousness) and possibly some loosely defined genera (extended family) but not beyond. There is no physical evidence to support the theory of common descent only a priori wishful deduction and the idea that complexity is built upon simplicity and “magical” nucleic acids are responsible for the diversity of entities.

    5)Variation of individuals in a population exists: Yes all individuals are unique in themselves, but to us, they are unique projections of our consciousness.

    6)Competition for limited resources exists and some variants are better at surviving then others:

    The old “survivors survive” tautology. Resources are not limited, scarcity is an illusion your consciousness uses for your edification as to the interconnectedness of all things.

    A) It is possible for these three phenomena to operate together; e.g. competition will make some things live better then others and this may effect the unintended changes in heredity:

    Living better is a POV and number 4 obtains anent heredity. Changes are intended by the consciousness or family of consciousness constituting the entity.

    B) The result of these phenomena operating on each other may produce an emergent phenomena not predictable by only the study of each separately:

    Except it isn’t emergent the way 2 atoms of Hydrogen and oxygen gases produce a liquid such as water or hydrogen peroxide. With sufficient knowledge of combinatorial atomic chemistry the “magical” emergent properties will be predictable from a theoretical standpoint. Emergent properties are another projection of our minds as are our individual universes.

    No one anywhere (especially you) has yet adduced any concrete evidence that the Modern Synthesis is a fact. If it were we should be seeing new species and genera constantly arising from the continuum of life.

  304. 306. Burt says:

    @Mike[278]

    You’re welcome.

    You seem to have more than a nodding acquaintance with the other “Greatest Just So Story Ever Told” I’ll explain how it works:

    Consciousness cooperates with each of our desires, creates all phenomena, and carrots are no exception. The carrot consciousness “understands” its role in the food chain and is “happy” to fulfill its purpose in becoming part of the rabbit, human, or borer. The rabbit also understands this dynamic and cooperates in the drama which constitutes the cycle of life whether its wolf, weasel, snare, research or commercial production.

    Your Snark turns out to be a Boojum for the nonce.

  305. 307. Lloyd Rice says:

    More on How we Reason” (see #304): I had the date wrong. The hard cover was published in ’06, paperback in ’08. The first 4 or 5 chapters deal with much of what this blog page was about (at least from my POV). Based on the observed nature of thought, reasoning, intuition, etc, he make a number of (I believe) astute observations about the brain’s mechanisms for managing the world model and the POVP.

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