language is the most bewitching and misleading devil in existence...
it produces the illusion of knowledge.

there is a distinction between understanding and knowledge.

On Jun 7, 8:05 am, Jason Resch <> wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 5:53 AM, Pete Hughes <> wrote:
> > Jason,
> > I found this compelling, are you saying that the difficulty of explaining
> > qualia is due to the language centre of the brain being able to access only
> > an abstract 'interface' (I'm a object oriented thinker) of the sensors? then
> > what about emotions? I'm trying to pre-empt your response to 'why don't you
> > put your hand in the fire and enjoy the information' and I just can't, I
> > like the way you talk so I will pester you with the question.
> Peter,
> Thanks, I am happy to attempt an answer.  The below is a conclusion from
> taking seriously is
> supported by several pieces of evidence:
> 1. Anesthesia
> The naive view is that anesthetics work by turning off the brain or causing
> activity in it to cease.  This is incorrect, there is still a great deal of
> activity within an anestetized mind, yet consciousness is abolished.  The
> person is unable to move, remember, sense pain, etc.  Yet other brain
> functions, such as regulating blood pressure or heart rate continue.  The
> leading theory for why this is, is called cognitive unbinding.  Anesthetics
> operate by confusing or dampening communication between neurons.
>  Cognitive unbinding proposes that this causes disparate brain regions to
> become cut off from each other as neural signals can only travel so far
> given the interference of the chemicals.  The result is different brain
> regions are cut off from each other, the pain processing part of the brain
> doesn't receive information from the touch processing part of the brain, the
> hippocampus doesn't receive information to encode as memories, the muscles
> don't receive signals to move which are under conscious control, yet
> independent brain functions (which don't require interaction with other
> brain regions) such as those that control breathing or heart rate continue
> to function.  It is not the sheer will to survive which keeps the lungs
> breathing or heart pumping, as animals which are conscious breathers (such
> as the dolhpins and whales) will suffocate under anesthesia.  This also
> forbids them from sleeping, they rest only one hemisphere of their brain at
> a time.
> 2. Different forms of brain damage
> Visual information is a cast collection of processed information.  Before
> the image reaches your conscious awareness your brain has applied edge
> detection, depth and color perception, object recognition, motion sensing,
> and blind spot extrapolation, among other things.  Each of these functions
> independently and can be impaired or lost without affecting other parts of
> the brain.  There are cases where brain damage to the V5 section of the
> brain causes motion blindness (sufferers see the world as a collection of
> static frames, devoid of any concept of motion), likewise people can lose
> the ability to recognize faces, or recognize objects (these functions occur
> in different parts of the brain, so while someone might lose the ability to
> recognize objects they can still recognize faces and vice versa), finally
> there are people who have lost the ability to process colors.  Not only can
> they no longer see colors, but they lose the ability to recall colors
> altogether.  Since the processing is done in specific areas of the brain,
> these modules share only the high-level results of their processing with
> other brain regions.  (This is the limited-access part of modularity).  It
> is not possible for all areas of the brain to do everything independently of
> course, so if they interact with other brain regions, they must receive high
> level results, not the raw input that a particular module processed.
> 3. Pain perception
> This is getting close to your question on emotions and why people don't
> stick their hand in the fire.  It's been found that the perception of pain
> is handlered in one part of the brain, but what makes pain painful
> (unpleasent) is handled by an entirely different part of the brain: the
> anterior cingulate cortex.  Damage to this part of the brain (or severing
> nerves connected to it in an operation called a cingulatomy) brings about
> the curious phenomenon of pain dissociation.  Someone with pain dissociation
> can provide specific information about the location and intensity of the
> pain, but it no longer bothers them or causes any distress.  An example:
> Paul Brand, a surgeon and author on the subject of pain recounted the case
> of a woman who had suffered with a severe and chronic pain for more than a
> decade: She agreed to a surgery that would separate the neural pathways
> between her frontal lobes and the rest of her brain.  The surgery was a
> success.  Brand visited the woman a year later, and inquired about her pain.
>  She said, “Oh, yes, its still there.  I just don't worry about it anymore.”
>  With a smile she continued, “In fact, it's still agonizing.  But I don't
> mind.”
> To answer your question about emotion I think Marvin Minsky provides a good
> answer.  You might say that given the above description of pain perception,
> we have only defined that feelings in terms of its effect on how we think,
> you might object that I have only described how hurting affects the mind but
> we still can't express how hurting feels.  Marvin Minsky called this:
> “a huge mistake-that attempt to reify 'feeling' as an independent entity,
> with an essence that's indescribable.  As I see it, feelings are not strange
> alien things.  It is precisely those cognitive changes themselves that
> constitute what 'hurting' is-and this also includes all those clumsy
> attempts to represent and summarize those changes.  The big mistake comes
> from looking for some single, simple, 'essence' of hurting, rather than
> recognizing that this is the word we use for complex rearrangement of our
> disposition of resources.”
> According to Minsky, human consciousness involves the interplay between as
> many as 400 separate sub-organs of the brain.  If you try to imagine the
> resulting symphony of activity that comes from these individual regions,
> each acting on each others' signals and in turn reacting to how those other
> regions are then affected, you can see it becomes a kind of perpetual and
> intertwined feedback loop of enormous complexity.  I think in short,
> emotions represent changes to a large number of different brain regions
> simultaneously.
> Jason
> > "Your brain contains information received by the senses, it is a system
> > which can enter many different states based on that information (it
> > interprets it).  One of those states is your brain thinking about the fact
> > that it knows it is touching the back of your hand with one of your fingers
> > (that may represent only a few bits of information), now consider that your
> > brain has 100,000,000,000 neurons and you can begin to see that more complex
> > qualia such as vision involve vastly greater amounts of information (some
> > 30% of your cortex is devoted to processing visual information).  Together
> > with the modularity of mind (different sections are specialized and compute
> > different things, and share the results with other brain regions), you can
> > begin to see why qualia such as Red or Green are so hard to explain.
> >  Consider Google's self-driving cars.  They need to determine whether the
> > stop light is Yellow, Red or Green.  The cameras collect many MB worth of
> > raw R,G,B data per second which is processed by a specialized function which
> > determines the state of the stop light.  The result Red, Green, or Yellow is
> > transmitted to other parts of the driving software, for example the parts
> > which control acceleration.  This part of the software knows there is a
> > difference between "Light is Red" vs. "Light is Green", but it cannot say
> > how they are different or why it knows they are different (this was decided
> > elsewhere).  It is much like the verbal section of your brain trying to
> > articulate the difference between red and green, it knows they are different
> > but cannot say how.  It does now have access to the raw data received from
> > the millions of cones in your retina."

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