David Nyman wrote:
On 17 February 2010 00:16, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:

But suppose we had a really good theory and understanding of the brain so
that we could watch yours in operation on some kind of scope (like an fMRI,
except in great detail) and from our theory we could infer that "David's now
thinking X.  And it's going to lead him to next think Y.  And then he'll
remember Z and strenghten this synapse over here.  And..."   Then wouldn't
you start to regard the 1-p account as just another level of description, as
when you start you car on a cold day it "wants" a richer fuel mixture and
the ECU "remembers" to keep the idle speed up until it's warm.

In short, yes.  But that doesn't make the problem as I've defined it
go away.  At the level of reconciliation you want to invoke, you would
have to stop putting scare quotes round the experiential vocabulary,
unless your intention - like Dennett's AFAICS - is to deny the
existence, and causal relevance, of genuinely experiential qualities
(as opposed to "seemings", whatever they might be).  At bottom, 1-p is
not a "level of description" - i.e. something accessed *within*
consciousness - it *is* the very mode of access itself.
I think "accessed" creates the wrong image - as though there is some "you" outside of this process that is "accessing" it. But I'm not sure that vitiates your point.


The trouble
comes because in the version you cite the default assumption is that
the synapse-strengthening stuff - the 3-p narrative - is sufficient to
account for all the observed phenomena - including of course all the
3-p references to experiential qualities and their consequences.

But such qualities are entirely non-computable from the 3-p level,

How can you know that?

so
how can such a narrative refer to them?  And indeed, looked at the
other way round, given the assumed causal closure of the 3-p level,
what further function would be served by such 1-p references?

"Function" in the sense of purpose? Why should it have one?
Now, if
we indeed had the robust state of affairs that you describe above,
this would be a stunning puzzle, because 1-p and 3-p are manifestly
not "identical", nor are they equivalently "levels of description" in
any relevant sense. Consequently, we would be faced with a brute
reality without any adequate explanation.

However, in practice, the theory and observations you characterise are
very far from the current state of the art. This leaves scope for some
actual future theory and observation to elucidate "interaction"
between 1-p and 3-p with real consequences that would be inexplicable
in terms of facile "identity" assertions.  For example, that I
withdraw my hand from the fire *because* I feel the pain, and this
turns out to both in theory and observation to be inexplicable in
terms of any purely 3-p level of description.  Prima facie, this might
seem to lead to an even more problematic interactive dualism, but my
suspicion is that there is scope for some genuinely revelatory
reconciliation at a more fundamental level - i.e. a truly explanatory
identity theory.  But we won't get to that by ignoring the problem.

My intuition is that once we have a really good 3-p theory, 1-p will seem like a kind of shorthand way of speaking about brain processes. That doesn't mean you questions will be answered. It will be like Bertrand Russell's neutral monoids. There are events and they can be arranged in 3-p relations or in 1-p relations. Explanations will ultimately be circular - but not viciously so.

Brent

David

David Nyman wrote:
On 16 February 2010 22:21, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:


Consciousness could be computable in the sense that if you are the
computation, you have the experience.

Yes, but that's precisely not the sense I was referring to.  Rather
the sense I'm picking out is that neither the existence, nor the
specifically experiential characteristics, of any 1-p component over
and above the 3-p level of description is accessible (computable) in
terms of any such 3-p narrative.  Consequently any reference to such a
component at the 3-p level seems inexplicable.  This leads some (e.g.
Dennett, if I've understood him) to try to finesse this by claiming
that 1-p experience only "seems" to exist - IOW that when 3-me refers
to 3-my "conscious experience" this is merely a 3-p reference to some
equivalent computational aspect which is fully sufficient to account
for all the resultant 3-p phenomena.  The 1-p "seeming" is then
supposed to be, in some under-defined sense, "identical" to this
computation.

But for two manifestly distinct levels of description to have any
prospect of being seen as "identical", they must  be capable of being
discarded individually, in order to be jointly reconciled in terms of
a single more fundamental level clearly compatible with both - this is
the only manoeuvre that could validate any non-question-begging
ascription of "identity".
But suppose we had a really good theory and understanding of the brain so
that we could watch yours in operation on some kind of scope (like an fMRI,
except in great detail) and from our theory we could infer that "David's now
thinking X.  And it's going to lead him to next think Y.  And then he'll
remember Z and strenghten this synapse over here.  And..."   Then wouldn't
you start to regard the 1-p account as just another level of description, as
when you start you car on a cold day it "wants" a richer fuel mixture and
the ECU "remembers" to keep the idle speed up until it's warm.

Brent

ISTM that the Dennettian approach is merely
to *assert* - given the undeniable "seeming" of conscious experience -
that this *must* be the case, whilst offering no glimmer of what the
nature of such a transcendent level of reconciliation could possibly
be.

David



On 17 February 2010 05:07, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:

This is old hat, but I've been thinking about it on awakening every
morning for the last week.  Is consciousness - i.e. the actual first-
person experience itself - literally uncomputable from any third-
person perspective?  The only rationale for adducing the additional
existence of any 1-p experience in a 3-p world is the raw fact that we
possess it (or "seem" to, according to some).  We can't "compute" the
existence of any 1-p experiential component of a 3-p process on purely
3-p grounds.  Further, if we believe that 3-p process is a closed and
sufficient explanation for all events, this of course leads to the
uncomfortable conclusion (referred to, for example, by Chalmers in
TCM) that 1-p conscious phenomena (the "raw feels" of sight, sound,
pain, fear and all the rest) are totally irrelevant to what's
happening, including our every thought and action.

But doesn't this lead to paradox?  For example, how are we able to
refer to these phenomena if they are causally disconnected from our
behaviour - i.e. they are uncomputable (i.e. inaccessible) from the 3-
p perspective?  Citing "identity" doesn't seem to help here - the
issue is how 1-p phenomena could ever emerge as features of our shared
behavioural world (including, of course, talking about them) if they
are forever inaccessible from a causally closed and sufficient 3-p
perspective.  Does this in fact lead to the conclusion that the 3-p
world can't be causally closed to 1-p experience, and that I really do
withdraw my finger from the fire because it hurts, and not just
because C-fibres are firing?  But how?

Consciousness could be computable in the sense that if you are the
computation, you have the experience.


--
Stathis Papaioannou

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