David Chalmers

Picture: David Chalmers. Blandula With ‘The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory’ David Chalmers introduced a radical new element into the debate about consciousness when it was perhaps in danger of subsiding into unproductive trench warfare. Many found some force in his arguments; others have questioned whether they are particularly new or effective, but even if you don’t agree with him, the energising effect of his intervention can still be welcomed. Chalmers believes (and of course he’s not alone in this respect) that there are two problems of consciousness. One is to do with how sensory inputs get processed and turned into appropriate action; the other is the problem of qualia – why is all that processing accompanied by sensations, and what are these vivid sensations, anyway? He calls the first the ‘easy’ problem and the second, which is the real focus of his attention, the ‘hard’ problem. Chalmers is careful to explain that he doesn’t mean the ‘easy’ problem is trivial, just nothing like as mind-boggling as qualia, the redness of red, the ineffably subjective aspect of experience.
The real point, in any case, is his view of the ‘hard’ problem, and here the unusual thing about Chalmers’ theory is the extent to which he wants to take on two views which are normally seen as opposed. He wants behaviour to be explainable in terms of a materialist, functionalist theory, operating within the normal laws of physics: in fact, he ends up seeing no particular barrier to the successful creation of consciousness in a computer. But he also wants qualia which remain mysterious in some respects and which appear to be have no causal effects. He doesn’t quite commit himself on this last point: the causal question remains open (qualia might over-determine events, for example, having a causal influence which is always in the shadow of similar influences from straightforward physical causes) and he does not sign up explicitly to epiphenomenalism (the view that our thoughts actually have no influence on our actions) – but he thinks the current arguments for the opposite views are faulty. All the words in the mental vocabulary, on his view, acquire two senses: there is psychological pain, for example, which plays a full normal part in the chain of cause and effect, and affects our behaviour: and then there is phenomenal pain, which does not determine our actions, but which actually, you know, hurts .

Bitbucket Chalmers is surely a dualist, because he believes in two kinds of fundamental stuff, and he is an epiphenomenalist, because he believes our thoughts and feelings have no real influence on the world. Neither of these positions makes sense. The book pulls its punches in these kinds of areas. He says he does not describe his view as epiphenomenalism, but that the alternatives to epiphenomenalism are wrong. Now if you believe the negation of a view is wrong, you have to believe the view is right, don’t you? And what is this ‘causal over-determination’ business? So an event is caused by some physical prior event, and also caused by the qualia – but it would have happened just the same way if the qualia weren’t there? Chalmers says there’s no proof this is true, but no real argument to disprove it, either. How about Occam’s Razor? A causal force which makes no difference to events is a redundant entity which ought to be excised from the theory. Otherwise we might as well add undetectable angels to the theory – hey, you can’t prove they don’t exist, because they wouldn’t make any difference to anything anyway.

Blandula This aggressive attitude is out of place. I think you have to take on board that Chalmers is quite honest about not presenting a final answer to everything. What he’s about is taking the problems seriously. This has a certain resonance with many people. There was a gung-ho era of artificial intelligence when many people just ignored the philosophical problems, but by the time Chalmers published “The Conscious Mind” I think more were prepared to admit that maybe the problem of qualia was more substantial than they thought. Chalmers seemed to be speaking their language. Of course, this may be irritating to philosophers who may feel they had been going on about qualia for years without getting much attention. It irritates some of the philosophers even more (not necessarily a bad thing) when Chalmers adopts (or fails definitely to reject, anyway) views like epiphenomenalism, which they mostly regard as naive. But you really can’t say Chalmers is philosophically naive – he has an impressibve command of technical philosophical issues and handles them with great aplomb.

Bitbucket Oh, yes. All those pages of stuff about supervenience, for example. That’s exactly what I hate about philosophy – the gratuitous elaboration of pointless technical issues. I mean, even if we got all that stuff straight, it wouldn’t help one iota. We could spend years discussing whether, say, the driving of a car down the road supervenes under the laws of physics on the spark in the cylinder at time t, or under some conjunction of laws of modal counterfactuals, yet to be specified, with second-order laws of pragmatic engineering theory. Or some load of old tripe like that. It wouldn’t tell us how the engine works – but that’s what we want to know, and the same goes for the mind.

Blandula Well, I’m sorry but you have to be prepared to take on some new and slightly demanding concepts if we’re going to get anywhere. We can’t get very far with naive ideas of cause and effect: the notion of supervenience gives us a way to unravel the issues and tackle them separately. I know this is difficult stuff to get to grips with, but we’re talking about difficult issues here. You just want the answer to be easy.

Bitbucket Easy! It’s Chalmers who ignores the real problems. Look at dualism. It’s only worth accepting a second kind of stuff if it makes things easier to explain. If we could solve the problem of qualia by assuming they live in a different world, there might be some point. But we can’t: they’re just as hard to explain in a dualist world as they were in a monist, materialist one, and on top of that you have to explain how the two worlds relate to each other. Chalmers ends up with ‘bridging principles’, which specify that phenomenal states always correspond with psychological ones. This sounds like Leibniz’s pre-established harmony between the spirit and body, but at least Leibniz had God to arrange things for him! Chalmers actually has no way of knowing whether psychological and phenomenal states correspond, because he only ever experiences one of them (which one depends on whether it’s Phenomenal Chalmers or Psychological Chalmers we’re talking about, I suppose). The final irony is that it’s Psychological Chalmers who writes the books, because that’s a physical, cause-and-effect matter: but his reasons for writing about qualia can’t be anything to do with qualia themselves, because he never experiences them – only Phenomenal Chalmers does that… And we haven’t even touched on the stuff about how thermostats feel, and the mysterious appeal of panpsychism. But really, the worst of it is that the problem he’s inviting people to ‘take seriously’ is the wrong one. The whole ‘problem of qualia’ is a delusion.

Blandula On the contrary, it’s the whole point. You should read less Dennett and more by other people. Incidentally, it must be in Chalmers’ favour that neither Dennett nor his arch-enemy Searle has any time at all for Chalmers. He must be doing something right to attract opposition like that from both extremes, don’t you think?

Two points, though. First, if we want to make any progress at all, it’s going to involve contemplating some weird-looking ideas. All the mainstream ones have been done already. Chalmers is all about opening up possibilities, not presenting a cast-iron finished theory. Second, you’re talking as if Chalmers took up dualism for no reason, but in fact he gives a whole series of arguments which explain why we’re forced to that conclusion.

Argument 1: The logical possibility of zombies, people exactly like us but with no qualia. This is the main one, which puts in its simplest form Chalmers’ underlying point of view that qualia are separable from the normal physical account of the world, and so just must be something different..
Argument 2: The Inverted Spectrum. An old classic, which relies on the same basic insight as the first argument, ie that you could change the qualia without changing anything else. Arguments along these lines have been elaborated to the nth degree elsewhere, but Chalmers’ version is pretty clear.
Argument 3: From epistemological asymmetry. Qualia just don’t look the same from the inside. When we examine the biology of our leg, it isn’t essentially different from examining someone else’s: but when we examine our own sensations, it bears no resemblance to observing the sensations of others.
Argument 4: The knowledge argument. Our old friend Mary the colour scientist .
Argument 5: The absence of analysis. This is simply a matter of putting the onus on the opposition to give an account of how qualia could possibly be physical.

The main point of the main argument, very briefly, is that we can easily imagine a ‘zombie’: a person who has all the psychological stuff going on, but no subjective experience. At the very least, it’s logically possible that there should be such people. As a result, you cannot just identify the physical workings of the brain, the psychological aspect, with the subjective experience, the phenomenal aspect. I have to say I think this is essentially correct.

Bitbucket There’s no way we can know whether something is logically possible unless we understand what we’re talking about. We need to know what phenomenal consciousness is before we can decide whether zombies without it are possible. Chalmers assumes it’s obvious that phenomenal experience isn’t physical, and hence it’s obvious we could have zombies. But this just begs the question. I assume phenomenal experience is a physical process, so it’s obvious to me that there couldn’t, logically, be a person who was physically identical to me without them having my experiences. Look at it this way. If Chalmers didn’t understand physics, he would probably find it easy to imagine that the molecules inside him could move around faster without his temperature going up. But when he understands what temperature really is, he can see that it was logically impossible after all.

Chalmers is really presenting intuitions disguised as arguments – alright, he’s not alone in that, but they’re dodgy intuitions, too. Look at that stuff about information. According to Chalmers, anything with a shape or marks on it, in fact anything at all, is covered in information – information about itself and how it got the way it is. We can speculate that any kind of information might give rise to consciousness: maybe even thermostats have a dim phenomenal life similar to just seeing different shades of grey. Since, on Chalmers’ interpretation of information, everything is covered in it, it follows that everything is in some degree conscious. The result? Panpsychism, a third untenable position…

Blandula Chalmers does not actually endorse panpsychism, he just speculates about it. Do you think the idea is uninteresting ? Can you not accept that if philosophers aren’t allowed to speculate, they’re not going to achieve very much?

Bitbucket And then, a chapter about the correct interpretation of quantum physics! What’s that about, then?

Blandula Chalmers sees a kind of harmony between his views and one of the possible interpretations of quantum theory. I have no idea whether he’s on to anything, but this sort of linkage is potentially valuable, especially to philosophy,which has tended to cut itself off from contemporary science. But the point is, all these latter speculations are just that – interesting, stimulating speculations. Chalmers never pretends they’re anything else. The point of the book is to get people to take qualia seriously. That’s a good, well-founded project and I think even you would have to admit that the book has succeeded to a remarkable degree.

Bitbucket If you ask me, Chalmers basically gives the whole thing away early on, when he says that another way of looking at the psychological/phenomenal distinction is to see them as the third-person and first-person views. Wouldn’t common sense suggest that this is just a case of a single phenomenon looked at from two different points of view? It seems the obvious conclusion to me.

Blandula But if the mind-body problem has taught us anything, it is that nothing about consciousness is obvious, and that one person’s obvious truth is another person’s absurdity…


  1. 1. peter reynolds says:

    What if consciousness evolved in deaf people, whereby a visually based language evolved in the under utilised somatosensory cortex in the place usually connected to our sense of hearing.
    Such a visually based language would evolve to the point where symbolism emerged and this language would be adopted by normally sensed people.
    Such a language might have arisen due to inbreeding of the pharoahs and their ancestors.

  2. 2. peter reynolds says:

    Perhaps it was only with the ability to put marks on walls that allowed the development of abstraction by placing images next to one another in order to see similarities and differences.
    Such similarities and differences would have been noticed in the vacant neural processing areas of the somatosensory cortex vacated by the inability to handle sound and auditory inputs. Perhaps from here sharing neural pathways and mechanisms which identify similarities and differences with sound generating areas of the cortex.
    So perhaps it would have required a genetically related group of individuals who had a particular type of auditory deficit. Perhaps a tendency to aquire deafness.

  3. 3. Russell W says:

    I’ve never understood why people accept the zombie argument at its face value. Regardless of where qualia are located or what they are made of, they do purvey information. It is a useful adaptation in the world to know where a sound is coming from or that an apple is red or a molted brown. Remove that information from the experience of a human being and it is not logically possible at all that it would result in a zombie that would behave exactly like a human being. You have removed information from what is an adaptive information processing device (being); it can’t act the same by virtue of the deficit.

  4. 4. John Davey says:

    I’ve never understood the idea that the logical possibilities of zombies is of any significance whatsoever. Zombies are not logically possible. An object with all the physical characteristics of a human being including, therefore, all the causal power of that human being’s brain, cannot be anything other than sentient or conscious.

    What Chalmers does is confuse mathematics for reality, like many people with a background more in computing and mathematics than in physics.There is no mathematical account than can include subjectivity directly,therefore zombies are possible. This is just not true. The inability to incorporate qualia into third party physical models is a deficiency in those physical models, not a defect in reality.

  5. 5. Vicente says:

    John, I very much agree with you point – The inability to incorporate qualia into third party physical models is a deficiency in those physical models, not a defect in reality – but unfortunately it is much worse than that in this case, I believe it is the whole physics body of knowledge that fails.

    I was trying to remember “similar” cases in the history of modern physics, for example when the existence of an aether material medium was required for light or electromagnetic waves in general to propagate, because the propagation in vacuum was difficult to accept for many, Michelson and Morley managed to envisage and experiment that showed that the aether couldn’t exist, or the fact the speed of light is constant in every reference system, which is disgusting for human logic, has also been experimentally checked by several ways, just to mention two cases that have some similarities with the qualia physical problem. Nevertheless, qualia are in a completely different situation, absolutely beyond any possible experimental attack.

    Maybe consciousness represents one of the borders of the realm of physics, and singularities (black hole kind I mean, not AGI) another, and substance concept another… and with all this issues we could draw a polygon that represents the perimeter of human science.

    Regarding the zombies issue I don’t believe in their possible existence either, but I don’t agree with Russell. Claiming the existence of zombies is equivalent to saying that according to the laws of physics, matter (atoms…) is capable of self-organising into more and more complex systems, until it becomes: flowers, human beings, cities, and then the atoms create the stock market, and tycoons make the dolar-euro exchange rate vary, and the atoms make other assemblies of atoms called spaceships, in order to carry themselves far away for fun. Many will say that each layer of complexity should be treated independently and decoupled from the underlying one, but at the end of the day this is what happens. To understand how a processor works, you need to understand how logical gates work, and for that how transistor works, and for that now p-n junctions work and for that how electrons behave in a crystal and so on… all layers are coupled. So it is like saying that atoms self-assembly themselves to create a processor following the laws of physics.

    I know it is the most bizarre thing to think of, but from a pure logical point of view it is difficult to attack it, unless we have an absolute knowledge of the laws of physics and we prove the former impossible. Russell is wrong in saying that qualia provide information about “reality”… qualia are mind constructs, they are not in nature. That information is only valid within the conceptual framework of human mind, which requires of consciousness in the first place.
    But what logic tells us, is that zombies would never speak about qualia in a first person experience terms, as I could do right now.

    What we need is new paradigm of knowledge adquisition if this makes any sense.

  6. 6. John Davey says:

    But mind constructs ARE in nature, they are perfectly natural. I can speak of your mind and my mind and it all makes perfect sense. Minds have subjective ontologies as experience but that does not preclude them from having the same third person ontology as any other kind of natural phenomena.

    I think the idea that qualia are “beyond experimental attack” has already been proved wrong. The basic theories of the visual system that are developing prove that wrong. I think what you are probably doing is mixing in the ontology question with the practical question of how we get a science of consciousness moving using mathematics and third party models. The answer is it will get done on an ad-hoc basis at least for some time until a convincing generalisation appears. That might not be for some considerable time !

    I trained as a physicist at University and what strikes me about mathematicians and computer scientists is how they think the theory is identical with the phenomena. Physicists don’t (usually) make this mistake and are clear to place limits on the scope and credibility of what is ultimately just a mathematical picture of what is going on. I think you are falling into the same trap of assuming that a physical theory of consciousness will somehow be imperfect, and this will not be acceptable. I think you’ll find in practice they’ll be very acceptable ! Besided, sense data has already been incorporated into physics – temperature. The basic notion of ‘hot’ is a sensory one. It was metricated (I think Newton had a go first) – indirectly – and later on, theorised as being proportional to the motion of particles. So we’ve been here before, believe me.

  7. 7. John Davey says:


    As for the point about zombies, that really is complete rubbish. For a start, whether zombies exist is not a ‘logical’ possibility but an empirical one. Consciousness is not a logical entity, but a phenomenal one, therefore its absence in one of two otherwise identical material beings is not a ‘logical’ possibility at all.

    It is only a ‘logical’ possibility if you think that the only thing that exists are physical theories of the universe, with a bit of phenomena thrown in as a backdrop. Only a computer scientist could think like that !


  8. 8. Vicente says:

    Well John, I did also trained as a physicist first, as a biophysicist later, and for some time (in parallel to my thesis) I worked in ion channels modelling and simulation, in particular in neuron membrane and patch-clamp techniques, so I know a bit, not much really about how the brain stuff is built at low hierarhy levels (which mainly contributes to my astonishment about consciousness). I am not a computer scientist, although I worked in IT for some years (in High Performance Computing and Expert Systems), so in a way I know the way both kind o profs think… and there is not such a way, that is just a label you are making up, over an educational threshold people think as people as a result of several factors and circumstances, among which, and not being the most important, is their background. Many great physicists were never trained as such.

    We can close this issue up quickly. Just tell me one way possible way, doesn’t matter if it is really imaginative or futuristic, with which you could meassure directly or indirectly anything related to the phenomenological experience of a person. Tell me and I will swallow my position in one go, and I will be really happy to do so.

    It is not that there is an imperfect physical theory of consciousness, that would be great, it is that there is no theory at all ! You are making the mistake of confusing neurology and neurophysiology progress with the solving of the “hard problem”.

    What you say is: Today it is impossible, but it will be possible in the future. Because you say so. Regarding your reference to vision: what vision science is proving is that what we see has more to do with a Hollywood script than with sensing the world. Look at colour vision, (what you claim measuring, which I don’t), colour perception seems to be absolutely scene dependant, no absolute reference, each image is constructed according to retina input, and many other inputs and relations.

    BTW, what is garbage is what you said about sense data and temperature. The feel of hot is not at all a direct measurement of the statistical parameters of the particles energy distribution of a system in equilibrium, actually what you sense is the temperature of the skin, probably long before it reaches equilibrium. And then there is the problem of what is the feel itself (THE POBLEM)

    In addition, you can feel hot and be freezing, and the other way round, because temperature is one of the most subjective of all feels. The same applies up to a certain extent to all other senses.

    Also note that you just have to apply an stimulus with electrodes in the right place of the brain and you’ll get the same temperature feel, so the basic notion of hot is and it is not a sensory one, as it happens with all the other senses (this one dedicated to mereologists).

    So, and regarding my previous question, as termometers are a set of instruments that rely on equilibrium between systems, and since you claim that the sense of temperature of humans can be treated as temperature, maybe you can device a system to put a scale on the human sense of temperature, how could you calibrate the human sense of temperature, or any other sense… with real physical specifications.

    Regardign zombies:

    Consciousness is not a logical entity, but a phenomenal one, therefore its absence in one of two otherwise identical material beings is not a ‘logical’ possibility at all.

    Precisely! but that is not the point. I believe I didn’t conveyed what I wanted to. The question is if the other possibility, just being zombies around, not a mix of conscious humans and zompies, only zombies!! is possible. Or consciousness is required to make the world as we know it. I believe that an only zombies world (apparently identical to ours) is not possible, for what I said, but I can’t prove it.

    Consciousness is not a logical entity, but a phenomenal one

    And now explain me what is a phenomenal entity please. If you just explain what is an entity it will be enough, and why consciousness is one..

    John, don’t get me wrong. I am just an ignorant but I don’t buy non-sense, and for the time being physics has not been able to slightly scratch the hard problem of consciousness (give me a reference of a paper if so). Nothing would make me happier than that explanation. Anyway I am of the opinion that before getting it right we have to commit many many mistakes. I believe that we will not understand consciousness until we have a complete understanding of our Universe. It is like the speed of light, the fact that it is constant in every system shows that there is an intimate and deep relationship between the propagation of light and the very nature of the spacetime structure, but what is it? The thing is that consciousness is one step further away than these kind of physical problems, because it seems to be slippery even with respect the fundamental category of space (time… I don’t find it so fundamental).

  9. 9. John Davey says:


    Firstly,I was not referring to what you said about zombies as being rubbish. I was making a general comment about Chalmer’s zombie theory (which I still think is rubbish, by the way).

    Secondly, I don’t believe that anything is ever measured directly. I can’t think of a single example : even using a ruler to measure the length of David Chalmers’s hair would require an assumption that the space between the edge of the ruler and the hair is uniform. All measurement has a theoretical basis and no measurement that I can think of manages without it. The classic example is the process which measures the radius of an atom : if you don’t believe that matter is made of atoms (we are talikng about scientific proofs here, not mathematical ones), then the measurement, which requires an assumption that matter is atomic in the first place, can be completely disregarded.

    You can indirectly measure anything which interacts with the outside world. Consciousness does just that. We can interact via witness testimony and physical evidence of bodily activity. If the theories of neuronal activity are correct, we can link specific neuronal patterns and activity to consciouness. The assertion that consciousness is not measurable is I think confusing the fact that consciousness is internally accessible only – as an experience. That experience can still be meaningfully relayed to us as witness testimony and become therefore objective evidence. That objective evidence can be linked to other objective evidence (ie neuronal patterns). You can’t access personal consciousness directly, obviously – but as I’ve said, I don’t believe anything is ever measured directly.

    Kant assumed, for instance, that there was more to matter than that which can be measured – ‘the thing in itself’, he called it. Consciousness is a bit like a ‘thing in itself’ but it does have a metricable face.

    We measure consciousness all the time. We see people sleeping. If I see a man on the floor, his head covered in blood and his brains on the floor, I assume that his consciousness has ceased. That is measurement. It might not be measurement as you like it to be, but it is still measurement. As the theoretical basis of consciousness becomes more solid and consciousness is linked to certain types of brain activity, then that brain activity itself will be accepted as yielding real measurable features – in much the same wasy as confidence in the fact that matter is made of atoms leads to the conclusion that we can measure the atomic radisu of one.

    As for your point about temperature, I think it will help if you look at what I said. I said that the notion of temperature of physics originated in our sense of hot and cold. If you disagree, you can perhaps suggest where it came from.

  10. 10. John Davey says:


    Sorry I missed your other question about my reply.

    Consciousness is a phenomenal entity because it has phenomenal features. It is a real ‘thing’ and not a derived or mathematical one. It is like matter, space and time rather than a mathematical concept such as a computer program. It has qualitative feautures rather than quantitative ones and cannot be derived from another conceptual object or idea.

    The experience of colour is sufficient in my opinion to establish it as a phenomena rather than a derived idea.


  11. 11. Vicente says:


    I apologyse, I should have read your comment more carefully.

    I think I now see your point, and I am afraid that it is difficult that we can come to any reasonable common understanding. It seems to me that consciousness means different things to you and me.

    In particular the adjective phenomenal refers to different things: to you I believe it is a sort of quality characteristic of fundamental non-reducible entities. To me, phenomenal refers to a different “reality dimension”, somehow connected and related to the physical world, being the brain the transponder. There is little I can say about it that could make sense to you, even to me.

    I am aware of the ‘kookiness’ of my position, but as you said, in that point we agree, it is not reality’s fault if physical models cannot account for the whole picture. The reason for which I support this point is simply because it is the way I experience my reality, the way I feel my existence, rather than the result of any logical or intellectual process. Having said this, I don’t see any logic in the idea of placing phenomenal entities in nature, unless they are located in space, i.e. their position and geometry are defined.

    Just the term consciousness is difficult to handle objectively, and you want to measure it…. 😉

  12. 12. Vicente says:

    John, regarding your point about temperature:

    I said that the notion of temperature of physics originated in our sense of hot and cold. If you disagree, you can perhaps suggest where it came from.

    I wanted to ponder it carefully before answering. I mainly disagree with you, although I admit that your point is not completely wrong, since many physical theories were originated in the observation of nature.

    We can say the physical notion of temperature was originated in the human sense of hot and cold, as much as we can say the physical concept of entropy was, or the notion of superconductivity comes from the feel of electric shock you can have when touching a naturally charged object (by rubbing).

    The concept of temperature, is a complex physical-mathematical model (like entropy, energy, you name it…) that emerged when the intuitive approach to natural thermal effects was overcome, and replaced by abstract conceptual thought. Note that the original intuitive ideas about temperature and heat were completely wrong, until thermodynamics were scientifically developed in the XVIII century.

    So the notion of temperature is much more related to abstract mathematical thinking than to sensing. The concept of temperature related to the idea of internal energy of a system, would have been developed (sooner or later) without the need of the corresponding human sense involvement. Intuitive approaches have historically led to wrong understandings in what to physics concerns.

    Of course, I will not deny that the observation of nature has been fundamental in the development of science, in order to start the reflection on natural phenomena and the underlying laws. Again, the observation of nature and the sensing of nature are not the same process. I believe observation requires of some systematics and methodology, while sensing does not.

    Anyway, temperature is a function, a concept, we have created in our minds, there is definitely not anything like that in nature…

  13. 13. John Davey says:


    The word ‘phenomenal’ to me is almost tautologous.I suppose I use it sometimes without really thinking about it. As I see it, it means anything in the universe that can be characterised as existing independently (not observer relative) and whose characteristics are discerned by scientific enquiry. That would exclude, as far as I am concerned, a derived concept like software or a computer program , or even a painting (although the paint itself of course would be phenomenal)and, for instance, the subject matter of a social science like economics. But it would include consciousness – which is a phenomena in the same class as metabolic or geological processes.


  14. 14. John Davey says:

    “Note that the original intuitive ideas about temperature and heat were completely wrong, until thermodynamics were scientifically developed in the XVIII century.”

    In what sense ? Sense data is not explicatory or theoretical : it is sense data. The only conclusion I can draw from sense data is that some things are hotter or colder than others. I don’t see any problems with the mathematical accounts of temperature there.

    The notion of temperature and the idea of heat have “common” meanings, and they have “physics”
    meanings. The physics meaning of temperature amounts to a third party explanation of a first party ‘meaning’ which is really no more than the ‘feeling’ of sense data – in this case, the feeling that some things are hotter or colder than others.

    There is no conflict between the ‘common’ meaning and the physics meanings, as they do not intrude on each other. They are completely compatible with one another – if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be able to account for why some things feel hotter than others in third party terms.

    Entropy and superconductivity have no corresponding sense data, so I don’t see them as being comparable to the notion of temperature. Electricity (as opposed to superconductivity) could of course be viewed as originating from pain, so may be similar.

  15. 15. Shaikh Raisuddin says:

    Consciousness is nothing but INTERFACE phenomenon. Similar to that happens in computers and mobiles. There interfacing happens due to traffic-effect of electricity in the electronic circuits.
    A living being gets ability of Consciousness due to TRAFFIC EFFECT of flow of nerve transmitters in the neural network. Consciousness is by design and has no Free Will which has also been proved by Psychologist Skinner’s experiments. Thus now it is made consciousness a subject of study of Science or Natural Laws.
    This solves the mystery of ages about consciousness.
    Following points also helps to improve our understanding
    • Why a blind man’s consciousness or any two persons consciousness is different? Because every individual has unique network within himself to interface.
    • Why consciousness is dependent upon sense-organs? Because sense-organs expand the ability to interface with distant objects. Our eyes help us to respond to any stimulus for away from our body. Our consciousness thus is limited by the limits of sense organs.
    • Why anyone’s consciousnesses change with lapse of time? Because traffic of nerve transmitters in the same network of neurons is different at different time.
    • Why consciousness cease to exist when one die? Because of cessation of nerve-traffic.
    A comparative study of road traffic and social organization will aid to understand the above. A city is a living-being and a nation too is a living-being. Therefore a city and a nation both have consciousness. When we block any road to a city for traffic, the city responds as a whole. The phenomenon like Phantom Traffic Jam and others can substantiate further.
    We are struggling to understand Consciousness because we first missed to define what life is. The phenomenon of life precedes the phenomenon of consciousness. Since we failed to understand life we went astray to understand consciousness.
    I stumbled upon some very fundamental questions.
    1. What is reality?
    2. What is life?
    3. What is consciousness?
    4. What is wisdom or intelligence?

    After a prolonged study, I concluded my views on them. The definitions, I refined and refined and concluded are as follows:
    1. Reality is anything that can cause an effect or can be affected by a cause. This definition is independent of sensory organs or perceptual prejudices and therefore is objective. A force vector alone is real. Balance of forces is permanent. At no instant of time there is ever absence of balance. The incessant changes with permanency happen only to balance. The World is an incessant phenomenon of permutations and combinations of infinite number of forces only to get balanced in different atoms, molecules, shapes and structure. The one which is most efficient and economical, in a situation, is formed.
    2. Any system with repetitive process is a living being. An Atom is a Living Being. Repetitive movement of an electron in an atom makes it a living being-the tendency to sustain the process. An electron moving around a nucleus develops a magnetic field. The magnetic field in turn acts as an interfacing mechanism or a “sense of touch” with surroundings. It will detect and react if a reality enters into its territory of influence. Consciousness is an effect of motions.

    3. Consciousness is an Interfacing Ability caused by traffic-effect of physical entities while flowing in a network of paths. Normally, Consciousness is defined as the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. In short and simple words, consciousness is ability to detect—get influenced and react (stimulus & response). More precisely we can say that awareness is an ability to exchange. We cannot be aware if we do not exchange. An interface is a shared boundary across which two separate components of a system exchange something.

    4. Wisdom or intelligence is the ability to predict rightly the cause of an effect or effect of the cause. This definition is independent of culture and in tune with science.

    This is the ultimate Theory (Truth) of Consciousness.

  16. 16. Peter says:

    Thanks for an original view, Shaikh Raisuddin.

  17. 17. john davey says:

    wow. shokran shaikh. something to think about.

  18. 18. Shaikh Raisuddin says:

    “We know of air when it blows”

    This is the new quote by me on consciousness which aptly define it.

    Discard the quotes:

    X “I think so I am”

    X “How it is like to be a bat?”

    We know of heart when it beats.

    We know of brain when it thinks.

    We know of rains when it falls and wets.

    We know a thing when it acts on us or acts on things we hold within us.

    We know when we are changed.

  19. 19. Shaikh Raisuddin says:


    For all about consciousness please see my post


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