Picture: mind the gap. One way of setting up the vexed question of qualia is to claim that there is an explanatory gap between what science tells us about our sensory organs and nervous system on the one hand, and actual real experience on the other.  Nothing in the biological/physical story, it’s claimed, tells us what the redness of a rose or the smell of violets is actually like, and nothing of that kind ever could. The two aspects of the experience do not connect with each other.  In the latest JCS, Michael Pauen sets out to show us that that supposed gap does not exist.

He attacks from four angles.  First, the thought-experiments put forward to point out the gap are inconsistent: second, they require the first-person view to have a special privilege which it hasn’t; third, the arguments for the gap are circular, resting on the same intuition they set out to vindicate. Finally, he offers a historical argument to show that apparent gaps of a similar kind have disappeared in the past as our scientific understanding grew: there’s no reason to think that this one too will stop seeming plausible when we understand things better.

We’ve often discussed the thought-experiments in question.  There’s Mary, brought up in monochrome but knowing all the science, who nevertheless knows something more, it’s claimed, when she sees what redness is really like. There are the ‘zombies’, creatures exactly like us in every physical detail and consequently in behaviour too, yet having no real experiences: the possibility of such beings, if you accept it, proving that there’s more than just physics going on. There are also the many variants of the inverted spectrum, where what I experience when I see blue is what you experience when you see red; our inability to discover or communicate this difference once again proving the existence of the gap.

What’s inconsistent about all that? Pauen introduces a new kind of zombie (Another new kind of zombie? There must be a dozen kinds in the literature already.) .  These are part-time zombies.  Some of the time they do have subjective experience just like us, at other times, as it were, the lights go out for a while.  The intermittent nature of their experience doesn’t affect their behaviour, of course, because ex hypothesi zombies are all exactly like their non-zombie equivalents in all physical matters. Moreover, because their zomboid episodes leave no physical traces in their brains, they can’t remember whether or not they had experiences at any given time. For that matter, we can’t tell whether we are part-time zombies ourselves, because we wouldn’t remember in either case. In fact, we can’t tell whether we ever did have subjective experience: so the theory of the gap ultimately undermines our reasons for believing in the gap in the first place.

This is a useful argument: still, I think Pauen may underestimate how far committed dualists might be prepared to go in digging in on this issue. Why has the experience got to leave physical traces in the brain, they might ask – I might just remember it spiritually. Pauen in reply would no doubt point out that such a spiritual memory could never have physical effects, so nothing they say with a physical mouth or write with a physical hand could ever have been caused by those ineffable experiences.  This is certainly an uncomfortable position for the dualists to be in, but it really only expands and dramatises the bind they were already in about the acausal nature of qualia, and you could argue that it’s only a little worse than the problems about interaction with the physical world which dualists have always faced. Somehow they seem to live with it.

Pauen’s second argument is meant to show that there’s no privileged first-person access to qualia: what does that actually mean? It’s obvious that you can’t, strictly, see things from my perspective without being me: but the explanatory gap also requires that there are facts about my experience (facts, presumably, about what it is like) that you can never get to know from the third-person perspective (if you could get to know everything from the third-person view there would be no gap). Pauen argues that if the subjects can recognise qualia, there must be some resulting difference in their epistemic or functional dispositions: these in turn will be recognisable from the third-person point of view. Contrariwise, if there is no functional difference, the subjects themselves will be unable to recognise the qualia, because the mere ability to do so would itself constitute a functional difference. Although I think he’s right about this, I think he has again assumed more agreement than some would be prepared to give.  I suppose most people these days are broadly functionalist in a general sense, but not everyone would accept that the ability to recognise the presence or absence of qualia has anything to do with functional dispositions, if that is to be read as referring to functional dispositions of physical matter. It’s tough to see how it could be otherwise, but there are mouths ready to bite that bullet.

Why is that? Why do people live with positions that involve such bad, unresolved philosophical problems? I think the dualists might say: look Michael, we know this is severely problematic – they don’t call it the hard problem for nothing – but what can we do? These qualia are right there, immediately obvious. It’s as if you’d come up with some really cogent arguments to show we had no heads, arguments we couldn’t fault. In those circumstances we’re forced to say, sorry Michael, but we just have not been decapitated – we just haven’t – so for the time being we’re going to have to work on the assumption that there’s something wrong with your case for acephaly even though just at the moment we can’t give you an unproblematic alternative.

Ah, but that plays into Pauen’s hands, because his third argument addresses the strength of the intuition behind qualia. He points out, quite rightly, I think, that we generally start with a strong feeling that there is something it is like; then the various arguments get presented to validate this intuition.  But on examination all of the arguments rest in the end on the same intuition. It is logically open to us to just deny that Mary learns anything new, to deny the possibility of zombies, and dismiss the issue of the inverted spectrum as meaningless. No argument compels us to do otherwise, it’s just that the same basic intuition is supposed to lead us in the other direction. Intuitions, Pauen points out, don’t prove anything.

That’s right of course, but there are a couple of things to be said. The first is that I don’t think the advocates of qualia actually suppose they’re putting forward a tight logical case. The arguments are, as it were, ostensive, they don’t deduce the existence of qualia, they simply display it.  What we’re offered is not really arguments so much as what Dennett calls ‘intuition pumps’, less powerful but legitimate tools if used properly.

Second, in calling them ‘intuitions’, Pauen sells these impressions a bit short. There are intuitions and intuitions: here we’re not talking about a hunch that people have qualia, we’re talking about having qualia right in your face, having them in the most direct and unmediated manner – a manner which some might even argue had a special immunity from error (I can be wrong about the fact that I’m seeing a rose, but can’t be wrong about the fact that I seem to be seeing a rose (Eric Schwitzgebel might have something to say about that though)). For those who believe in them, qualia may be ineffable, but they’re also undeniable in a unique way denied to mere feelings about things are likely to be.

Or so you may think: but Pauen’s last argument is the historical one that things which one seemed irreducible to us have often ended up being perfectly explicable once we knew a bit more about the underlying science. In general Pauen is arguing against the view that there is an explanatory gap  in principle, but here his argument also implicitly rebuts those who, like Colin McGinn, never claimed qualia were mysterious in themselves, only forever mysterious to us. I don’t suppose anyone ever changed their mind because the opposition’s retelling of events convinced them they were on the wrong side of history, but I found Pauen’s account, which takes up a substantial part of the paper, enlightening. Besides Fechner and Du Bois-Reymond he picks out Descartes for particular attention, and it was refreshing to see him given fair and accurate treatment for once instead of being blamed for imaginary theatres and what have you.

On this general historical argument I again think Pauen is basically right. It is already possible to explain many aspects of vision in ways which tend to reduce the sense of ineffability a bit, and no doubt this will continue to develop. But that may not do the job of dispelling all the magic.  Part of the sensation of mystery about qualia, I suspect, does come from a certain mere bogglement over the difference between first and third person view; and a large part comes from the inexplicable haecceity of the world and even worse, of ourselves. These things are not going to stop bothering people any time soon.

23 Comments

  1. 1. Vicente says:

    This is like the dual-aspect monism…

    I am tired of the causal problems and epiphenomenalism.

    So qualia can be caused but cannot cause. Non sense. The same closure problem that arises when we say that qualia can’t be a cause, arises when we say qualia are cause, are an effect. Or is it that the train whistle can sound without diminishing the pressure in the machine (no matter how little), or is it that we can project a shadow without being warmed up by the light hitting us (no matter how little). If qualia are produced by the brain it has to be at the expenses of something, action and reaction, where is the closure then.

    I find it amazing that they have a problem with qualia being a cause, but then they happily accept qualia being caused, without leaving a trace in the brain. What an unacceptable assymetry.

    It is all incoherent and inconsistent.

    I believe a lot of research has to be done in neurophysiology before causation can be discarded. They have no evidence at all to discard it.

  2. 2. John says:

    Dennett is a closet dualist, he describes experience thus:

    “It seemed to him, according to the text, as if his mind – his visual field – were filled with intricate details of gold-green buds and wiggling branches, but although this is how it seemed this was an illusion. No such “plenum” ever came into his mind; the plenum remained out in the world where it didn’t have to be represented, but could just be. When we marvel, in those moments of heightened self-consciousness, at the glorious richness of our conscious experience, the richness we marvel at is actually the richness of the world outside, in all its ravishing detail. It does not “enter” our conscious minds, but is simply available” (Consciousness Explained)

    But Dennett misses the point that we cannot account for this “view”, that he describes so poetically, using 3D geometry. He describes a physical world as if it were a supernatural entity and does not even realise it.

  3. 3. Leonardo García Díaz says:

    I am an Argentinean non-academic thinker on various branches of human knowledge. I am recently interested in neurosciences, neurosciences advances, and in the “philosophy of mind”.
    I came here reading some books of John Searle who is referenced by some continental philosophers like J. Häbermas and M. Foucault.
    It seems to me, at a first approach, that “philosophy of mind” is to neurosciences like “philosophy of nature” is to physics in the XIX century. The picture is that of a little and agile boy “fighting” with a big and yet clumsy man.
    I cannot imagine what truths about body-mind problems could be settled down by “philosophy of mind” that neurosciences must accept forever.
    The question of an explanatory gap, “what the redness of a rose or the smell of violets is actually like”, seems to be unquestionable. But Vicente’s comments on qualia not leaving trace on brain too.
    I would like to continue thinking body-mind questions an writing about in this excellent, superb, blog.
    Surely I will continue reading it.

  4. 4. Earl Wajenberg says:

    It seems strange to say qualia don’t cause anything when, at a minimum, they clearly cause a lot of articles about qualia to be written.

  5. 5. Sam Hopkins says:

    First of all, I think most people who believe that qualia are, at least at first blush, a serious problem are also willing to believe that their subjective experience could have some physical cause. It’s just that, there is currently nothing close to a compelling physical account of the origin of subjective experience, and it is hard to imagine what such an account would look like. The quale thought experiments (Mary, zombies, inverted spectrum) are then more about elucidating exactly the phenomena that a physical explanation would have to explain, and the obvious difficulties it faces.

    Secondly, while the argument that goes roughly, if qualia are truly epiphenomenal, what’s causing you to say you experience them, seems at first insurmountable, it opens up a can of worms for the physicalist. Once he moves into the realm of meta-argument (that is, he references the fact that those engaged in a debate about the metaphysics of our world are also themselves embedded in this world), the dualist is free to point out that the physicalist, under his own conception of reality, is not making statements because he has good reasons for believing them, he is making statements because of certain physical laws that dictate his biological behavior. It’s not clear that a purely deterministic entity could have good reasons for believing things, could engage in philosophical discourse the way it is traditionally conceived.

    Then, I think both sides will agree that they have to carry the debate out at one level removed from the world, and the dualist is now free to appeal to our intuitions of subjective experience. Or, if he wanted to be a little more careful, he could preface all of his arguments with “well, if you DID feel strongly that you are experiencing qualia, it follows that…”, and then each person can decide whether that intuition applies to him or her as he is evaluating the argument.

  6. 6. Vicente says:

    Earl, think of this. If you are walking along the street and you see a car that is about to hit an absent minded old lady crossing the street, and you shout at her: watch out !!

    What is the cause of the warning shout? the approaching car? or your willing (or reaction) to do something to prevent the accident? there is a choice, in some situations you might have shut up. This causation chain is not clear. The car is not a real cause.

    If the lady is knocked down by the car and killed, what is the cause of her death? the impact of the car. This causation chain is clear, like most phyisical cause-effect processes (disregarding phylosophical and statistical/quantum aspects of the concept of cause).

    The causation problems of qualia are of the second class, they are related to the physics of the brain.

    The point is: is there any experiment that has shown that the energy balance within the brain does not allow (i.e. there is margin) for external interactions.

    If qualia were to act on the brain, how much power would be needed? 1 mW or 10^-12 mW or less or much more? This interaction could be happening and yet never gauged.

    The problem to me is to identify possible interaction mechanisms. Maybe a slight bias of the statistical processes within the microtubules could account for it. Eccles (Nobel price) proposed psycons acting on the synspses. Who knows?

    First thing would be to understand the brain dynamics, and then to have an exhaustive mapping of Neural Correlates (NCCs) and then to determine if a part is missing to close the system. In that way could identify the interaction cadidate areas. Unfortunately the huge complexity of the brain makes this strategy very difficult (almost impossible at present) to implement.

    My complaint is that they claim that there is energy closure in the brain with no evidence about it.

    Look at astronomers, they would have sworn that galaxies dynamics were perfect in what to energy balance concerns, and now here we are, appealing to dark matter and dark energy… this is for those that compare the evolution and paths of mythology and science, with the mind-body problem.

  7. 7. John says:

    Only a philosopher could say: “For those who believe in them, qualia may be…. ”

    A scientist would say “Here are some marks “o o”, I find they are continuously present, do you?”

    There is no “belief” in the study of qualia. They are the content of experience.

    Qualia are obviously parts of what are called “causal chains”. The only issue is whether the presence of these objects in the peculiar geometry of the mind is required for their inclusion in these chains.

  8. 8. Michael Drake says:

    I made something very much resembling the part-time zombie argument you describe here, a couple of years back.

  9. 9. john says:

    Michael, the zombie, if it were honest, would be unable to report that it could see the whole of your red disk example now. Sure it could report that each receptor in its optical sensors individually had a red input but it could not ascertain this instantaneously, there would always be at least one more processing step that just having red inputs. For instance, it might have to scan each receptor in turn and there would be a time delay between each reading or it would have to report a combined output from the receptor array which, if it were honest, it would confess was a single data value in a different place from the receptors.

    Although a zombie could have an image of the world on its sensors it would not have a separation from the content of the image (like you have a separation from this screen). It might be able to report a calculated separation but if it were honest it could not report that the calculation was the same as the instantaneous angular separation that occurs in the view containing this screen that you and I possess. Every point in our “view” is instantaneously separate from an apparent viewing point and immediately related in space to the other points in the view. The zombie, if it were honest, would report that it must calculate separations and relations, it does not have them immediately present in a geometrical manifold. The points in our view and their relations are present for us without any need to traverse each point, they are simultaneous.

  10. 10. Tom Clark says:

    I’m largely sympathetic with Pauen’s critique of zombies and phenomenal privilege. But the fact that the zombie intuition may not be sustainable and that there isn’t first-person knowledge of phenomenal facts doesn’t erase the prima facie distinction between phenomenal and physical states, which is drawn on the basis of their essential characteristics. The former are characterized as qualitative, private, and non-decomposable, the latter as quantitative, public and compositional.

    There’s a big difference between showing (as he may have, I’m not sure) that it isn’t *impossible* to give a functional account of qualia to actually providing an account that shows how qualia, with their characteristics, are identical to physical states, with their characteristics (Pauen thinks they are identical, p. 83 3rd paragraph, 3rd sentence). Absent such an account, the prima facie distinction between phenomenal and physical will continue to suggest itself as being basic in some respect, e.g., a basic ontological distinction (a dualism of two sorts of natures or substances) or, as I hypothesize, a distinction stemming from two different epistemic perspectives on the world, one individual and organismic, one collective and conceptual ( http://www.naturalism.org/appearance.htm#part1 ).

    As Peter says, qualia are undeniable, since even those like Pauen who think qualia are identical with physical/functional states start off with the fact of one’s private experience as something to be explained, perhaps reductively. To admit the reality of experience as an explanatory target is to admit that it has characteristics that prima facie distinguish it from physical states, otherwise there would be no problem of consciousness. Until it’s shown *how* those characteristics reduce to physical or functional states (which Pauen admits hasn’t been done), confidence in phenomenal-physical identity seems to me a little premature. Seems to me what we can be confident of at the moment given the evidence is phenomenal-physical parallelism.

  11. 11. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom, just to be clear on this point, does your notion of physical-phenomenal parallelism allow physical causation of phenomenal states?

  12. 12. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold, I’m skeptical of finding causal relations between physical and phenomenal states unless you’ve already drawn an identity between them, an identity that I think is hard to sustain, as you know, see http://www.naturalism.org/appearance.htm#part2 But if you can show how something categorically private, qualitative and non-decomposeable (e.g., pain) is caused by something public, quantitative, and compositional (neural states), then I’ll be on board about the physical causation of phenomenal states.

  13. 13. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom, you wrote: “But if you can show how something categorically private, qualitative and non-decomposeable (e.g., pain) is caused by something public, quantitative, and compositional (neural states), then I’ll be on board about the physical causation of phenomenal states.”

    In the SMTT experiments I presented empirical evidence that the retinoid system of neuronal mechanisms can cause a phenomenal state that is private, qualitative, and global (non-decomposable?). For example, see *Evolution’s Gift: Subjectivity and the Phenomenal World*, here: http://journalofcosmology.com/Consciousness130.html

  14. 14. Tom Clark says:

    Arnold, in your paper you say

    “This [SMTT] experiment demonstrates that the human brain has internal mechanisms that can construct accurate analog representations of the external world.” and “The experiment also demonstrates that the human brain has internal mechanisms that can accurately track relational properties of the external world in an analog fashion.”

    Then you say “It seems to me that these experimental findings provide conclusive evidence that the human brain does indeed construct *phenomenal* representations of the external world and that the detailed neuronal properties of the retinoid system can account for our conscious content.” (my emphasis)

    What I don’t see in the paper is any account of how phenomenal states (qualitative, private, non-decomposable) are caused by the neural processes that constitute the analog representations of the external world. Searching the paper, I didn’t find the words “qualitative” or “private” or any description of what the phenomenal actually consists in that contrasts it with the physical. Without that, then there’s no story to be told as to how one gets from the physical to the phenomenal since the latter isn’t specified.

    But you also say that “All phenomenal representations are constituted by patterns of neuronal excitation on the Z-planes of retinoid space.” Having stipulated this identity, then of course there’s no need for a account of how the phenomenal is caused by the physical.

    We’ve been over this territory any number of times on this blog, so we should be careful not to beat dead horses.

  15. 15. John says:

    Tom, you are asking how a public measurement of an electric field on a neuron in a subject could be identical to a pain in a finger.

    If I were to transplant the neuron into your brain into exactly the same functional position as in the subject I suspect that you would feel pain if the activity of the neuron were matched to the activity you previously measured.

    So the question is how does an electric field or some events that correlate with the field equal the pain?

    First of all notice that you do not have pain for no time at all. Pain needs time. If we take a second of pain each microsecond slice, on its own, is not pain, neither of us have had a microsecond of pain. Pain is a four dimensional object.

    Pain is both “my pain” or “your pain” and for each of us it is “out there”, in our own finger. We know that neurons are topologically arranged and there are neurons that correspond to places on a finger. As Arnold points out, it would be unsurprising if “out there” actually meant that the pain was related to a neuron that corresponds to the finger. The missing link between the electric field or other events in the neuron and the pain in the virtual finger is how, at each instant the events in the virtual finger can be related to “me”.

    For a pain to be related to all of me at each instant sounds like a contradiction in terms. However, it has already been suggested that pain is a four dimensional object and, as Alex Green has previously described, 4D objects can be in two 3D places at once. All parts of the neural virtual reality of a system such as Arnold’s Retinoid System can indeed be instantaneously interrelated (ie: bound).

    So how do we know that we have pain? If pain is indeed a 4D object then the question “pain?” can indeed be accompanied by the answer “ouch!” the question and answer being simultaneously present at an apparent viewing point (see Green’s paper).

    Returning to your question about “how phenomenal states (qualitative, private, non-decomposable) are caused by the neural processes that constitute the analog representations of the external world”. The public measurement is an instantaneous reading at a 3D point of a field that is extended in time. To extrapolate this to the events that are simultaneous at the apparent viewing point of an individual you will need to do several measurements over a short period and calculate the result according to the metric of the field (see Green’s paper). It will be seen that the neural activity does not cause phenomenal experience, it is the phenomenal experience.

  16. 16. Tom Clark says:

    John,

    If neural activity just *is* the phenomenal experience, an identity claim, then it follows we’d literally see pains sitting out there in public space. But we don’t – pains and all other phenomenal experiences aren’t visible or otherwise observable to outside observers (they aren’t observable at all, since the subject isn’t in an observational relation to her experience). What we observe are neurons, etc. doing their thing, we don’t see sensations, emotions, thoughts, etc. If we did such things, the problem of other minds wouldn’t have arisen.

    The essential characteristics of qualia – privacy, qualitativeness and non-decomposability – aren’t characteristics of neurons or their doings. So it seems to me problematic to claim an identity, where the two sides of the identity relation have all the same properties, characteristics, etc. (morning star = evening star). And as far as I know no one has come up with a plausible causal story of how qualia are produced or generated by neural processes.

    If identity doesn’t hold, and if causation doesn’t apply, then seems to me we’re forced to look elsewhere for an explanation of consciousness.

  17. 17. John says:

    Tom: “But we don’t – pains and all other phenomenal experiences aren’t visible or otherwise observable to outside observers”

    The physical world is four dimensional and our experience is obviously four dimensional. If we measure the neural events that compose experience using normal instruments we only measure a part of the event. If you take a picture hanging on a wall and scan a single, ultra-thin line from the 2D picture would you declare that pictures are impossible because they are nothing like a 1D section of a picture? Our measurements take 3D sections of a 4D reality and moving from 3D to 4D is much more conceptually demanding than moving from 1D to 2D.

    Dimensional time is a negative dimension – see the note on four dimensional spacetime in this article. Notice how the apparent viewing point in a four dimensional spacetime is unique and, as you say, not observable to outside observers. Of course, if we knew which neurons constituted something akin to Arnold’s retinoid system and what sort of activity was needed to produce experience we could copy this activity in your brain so that you could get a good idea of what my experience is like.

    On the subject of the location of pain, you might be interested in observations of pain in the section on pain in article Space in the Dark. Pain is clearly a set of events similar to sound or colour in the way it has a form and is distributed.

  18. 18. John says:

    I corresponded with Alex Green a few years back and asked why she had given up trying to explain her theory. She said that philosophers absolutely reject the idea of dimensional time so trying to explain the theory is like beating one’s head against a brick wall. My experience of physics students is that about half just don’t “get” relativity theory as a theory of spacetime, a theory of a 4D universe, but endlessly revert to dynamics in a 3D space. You can’t help them. They usually turn to quantum physics nowadays in the hope that this will explain why light is slowed down and speeded up…its no use saying to such folk that its got nothing to do with light.

  19. 19. Arnold Trehub says:

    Tom: “If neural activity just *is* the phenomenal experience, an identity claim, then it follows we’d literally see pains sitting out there in public space. But we don’t – pains and all other phenomenal experiences aren’t visible or otherwise observable to outside observers (they aren’t observable at all, since the subject isn’t in an observational relation to her experience).”

    There are many important theoretical constructs that are not directly observed. For example, it is my understanding that the elementary particles in fundamental physics are not observed as entities with particular properties, but they are recognized by the tracks they make in bubble chambers. Their properties are validated because the phenomena that they predict have been empirically demonstrated.

    In the same way, the SMTT findings and the successful prediction of the novel pendulum illusion — systematic causation of unique qualia — on the basis of the structure and dynamics of the retinoid system justifies the assertion that phenomenal experiences (qualia) are constituted by the spatiotemporal pattern of autaptic-cell activity in retinoid space. It seems to me that this is the best explanation for phenomenal content that we presently have.

  20. 20. Tom Clark says:

    John,

    It isn’t obvious to me that experience is 4D, rather I’d say it represents the actual *world* as being 4D. If experience itself is a *virtual* world, then that virtual world isn’t literally 4D, but is rather a model of the actual world as being 4D. We experience being in a volumetric surround, but the experience itself isn’t volumetric.

    That you can describe a pain as having a shape and location is to *represent that* particular parts of your body are where pain is happening. But pain and other sensations and emotions can also be non-localized (e.g., depression, elation) although since they are my sensations I’ll always have the feeling that they are happening “in here” in some vague sense.

    If we could suspend the representational matrix that entails (somehow!) the feeling of having a body, and suspended perception, then the remaining experience wouldn’t be about existing in a volumetric surround, although the time dimension would remain. Seems to me this would show experience itself isn’t 4D, although of course it’s usually recruited to model the *world* as 4D.

  21. 21. John says:

    Tom: “We experience being in a volumetric surround, but the experience itself isn’t volumetric. ”

    The question of the nature of experience is central to the problem of what we are.

    Perhaps we have a difference of opinion about what the word “experience” symbolises. My experience at this brief moment contains thoughts as inner speech about what I am going to write, a somatic sensation in my hands where they touch the keyboard of my large desktop laptop and a visual sensation containing the screen. I have no sensation of any flow from the screen into a centre point or flow from inner speech into a point etc., any idea of flow is a theory I might have (but don’t). My current experience is events distributed around me and distributed within me.

    I can see two points “..” on the screen. These points are continuous – as you say, experience is continuous – two continuous events must also contain simultaneous events. Two simultaneous events, in the language of maths, physics, philosophy etc., define a space so I say that my experience is events distributed in space and time. It is volumetric.

    A volumetric experience that includes the space occupied by our bodies allows emotions such as elation to be non-localised, in this case with a brightening of visual experience and a fullness of heart.

    I cannot agree that if you removed the spatial layout of experience time would remain. A geometric point does not exist in isolation from a geometrical manifold, for instance, a point on the line ______ divides the line but remove the line and the point is literally nothing, non-existent.

    There are several ways to create a 4D geometry, the crucial feature of our world and our experience is that it is not a simple Euclidean geometry, it does not involve simple stacks of 3D forms, dimensional time is a negative dimension so our 4D spacetime is bizarre and the separations of events vary depending on where your observation point is positioned.

  22. 22. John says:

    I just re-read the sentence “A geometric point does not exist in isolation from a geometrical manifold, for instance, a point on the line ______ divides the line but remove the line and the point is literally nothing, non-existent.” and feel it is not very clear. If we remove length and depth from a 3D object we have a plane of no thickness, such a plane cannot exist in the real world, it is a conceptual entity that divides a 3D form. If I remove length breadth and depth from a 4D object I have a conceptual “time”, the centre point of the object’s 4D manifold (0 = x^2 + y^2 + z^2 – (ct)^2) but without any extension of the manifold (x,y,z = 0) it is nothing.

  23. 23. Charles Myro says:

    No one claims that an explanation reproduces what it explains; the explanation or description of a peach taste is no substitute for the taste.Surely that is patent.
    The experience of the thing is presumed before the explanation–otherwise what would there be to explain?
    Folks differ as to what does or does not explain or fully account for something. Further, there is no end to the question “why?” —why there should be something like, for instance, taste, at all; why some mechanism should produce it or be correlated with it; why there should be a mechanism.
    One can always come up with some explanation or other for any “why?”; one may reduce one thing to another thing, light to photons for instance. But I assert there is no explanation that must end the question “why?” after each answer.
    If there is an explanatory gap it is this.

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