----- Original Message ----- From: "Stephen Paul King" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: "Jonathan Colvin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2005 10:23 PM
Subject: Re: What do you lose if you simply accept...
A "mental fiction" indeed, but one that we can not just imagine away. ;-)
----- Original Message ----- From: "Jonathan Colvin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2005 10:19 PM
Subject: RE: What do you lose if you simply accept...
Stathis: OK then, we agree! It's just that what I (and many others) refer to as qualia, you refer to as the difference between a description of a thing and being the thing. I hate the word "dualism" as much as you do (because of the implication that we may end up philosophically in the 16th century if we yield to it), but haven't you just defined a very fundamental kind of dualism, in aknowledging this difference between a thing and its description? It seems to me, in retrospect, that our whole argument has been one over semantics.
Well, that would be a novel application of "dualism", I think. A description
of a thing, and *a thing* seem to be two very different categories; dualism
would usually imply one is talking about dualistic properties of the *same
thing*. I'm still inclined to deny that "qualia" refers to anything. It is a mental fiction.
Dennett (whom I greatly respect) goes to great lengths to avoid having impure thoughts about something being beyond empirical science or logic. David Chalmers ("The Conscious Mind", 1996) accepts that it is actually simpler to admit that consciousness is just an irreducible part of physical existence. We accept that quarks, or bitstrings, or whatever are irreducible, so why is it any different to accept consciousness or what-it-is-like-to-be-something-as-distinct-from-a-description -of-something (which is more of a mouthful) on the same basis?
The argument from Dennet (which I'm inclinced to agree with) would be that
we can not accept "what-is-it-likeness" as an irreducible thing because
there is no such thing as "what is it likeness".
> > [quoting Stathis] > > > >My curiosity could only be satisfied if I were in fact the > > duplicated > > > >system myself; perhaps this could be achieved if I "became > > one" with > > > >the new system by direct neural interface. I don't have to > > go to such > > > >lengths to learn about the new system's mass, volume, > > behaviour, or > > > >any other property, and in *this* consists the essential > > difference > > > >between 1st person and 3rd person experience. You can > > minimise it and > > > >say it doesn't really make much practical difference, but I don't > > > >think you can deny it. > > > > > >I can deny that there is anything special about it, beyond the > > >difference between A): *a description of an apple*; and B): > > *an apple*. > > >I don't think anyone would deny that there is a difference between > > >A and B (even with comp there is still a difference); but this > > "essential > > >difference" does not seem to have anything in particular to do with > > >qualia or experience. > > > > > >Jonathan Colvin > > > > Stathis: Can the description of the apple, or bat, or whatever > > meaningfully include what it is like to be that thing? > >My argument (which is Dennet's argument) is that "what it is like to be >that thing" is identical to "being that thing". As Bruno points out, in >3rd person level (ie. the level where I am describing or simulating an >apple), a description can not "be" a thing; but on the 1st person level >(where a description *is* the thing, from the point of view of the >thing, inside the simulation, as it were), then the description does >"include" what it is like to be that thing. But "include" is not the >correct word to use, since it subtly assumes a dualism (that the qualia >exist somehow separate from the mere description of the thing); the >description *just is* the thing. > >Jonathan >
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