On Aug 18, 9:57 pm, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Visual qualia occur in the visual cortex, which is fed information
> from downstream structures such as the retina and optic nerve. If the
> visual cortex is destroyed there are no visual qualia even though the
> rest of the visual system is intact, and even though reflexes such as
> pupillary constriction in response to light remain intact.

I understand this view very well, but I think that my view improves
upon it substantially.

1. Visual qualia does not 'occur in' the visual cortex. Visual qualia
overlaps phenomenologically with the electromagnetic activity in the
cortex (which is really spread out in different area of the brain),
but if visual qualia were actually present 'in' the brain in any way,
then we would have no trouble simply scooping it out with a scalpel.
That's a fundamental insight. If you don't accept that as fact, then
we have nothing to discuss.

2. There is no such thing, objectively as 'information'. It has no
properties, so to say that the 'visual cortex, which is fed
information from downstream structures such as the retina and optic
nerve' is really a way so saying 'we have no idea how visual qualia is
transmitted, but we know that it must be, because the visual cortex is
informed by the retina.

3. To say that there is 'no visual qualia' if the cortex is destroyed
is accurate, but only accurate from the subject's perspective.
Objectively there was never any qualia there to begin with. The retina
still responds to photostimulation, which in your view, it seems would
have to be the same thing as visual qualia. If you are going to
attribute thermal sense to a thermostat, you must also attribute sight
to the retina, no? I imagine you'll say that the qualia is produced by
the complex interaction of the visual cortex, which supports my view,
that the thin bandwith of the raw sensation makes not just for
different intensity of sense but a deeper quality of it's experience.

> Any substitution will of course affect qualia IF it affects function.

Qualia has no objective function, which is why it is not objectively
detectable. That is the reason.

> The lens in the eye is replaced in cataract surgery and that does not
> affect visual qualia at all, because the artificial lens is
> functionally equivalent. The artificial lens is not functionally
> identical under *all* circumstances, since it is not identical to the
> natural lens; for example, it won't go cloudy with prolonged
> ultraviolet light exposure. However, it *is* functionally identical as
> far as normal vision is concerned, and that is the thing we are
> concerned with. An artificial neuron is more difficult to make than an
> artificial lens or artificial joint, but in principle it is no
> different.

You keep going back to that, but it's not true. It's wall buffaloes.
"“We’re like cavemen that, you draw a buffalo on the wall and you say,
ok I’m getting good at this just give me another week, bring me some
meat, and pretty soon I’ll make buffaloes come out of that wall”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTd8I0DoHNk (57:16)". You can't make a
movie so complete that it replaces the audience. There is a
fundamental ontological difference between altering the substance of
what we ARE compared to altering the substance of what we USE.

>It just has to slot into the network of neurons in a way
> that is close enough to a natural neuron. It does not have to behave
> exactly the same as the neuron it is replacing, since even the same
> neuron changes from moment to moment, just close enough.

That view is not supported by neuroscience. There are no slots in the
network of the brain. It's a family, a dynamic community that has a
way of keeping out parasites and foreign biota.

> >> You would behave normally and tell everyone
> >> that your vision had not changed, since the information reaching the
> >> rest of your brain, including your language centre, would be the same.
> >> That's what "functionally identical" means.
>
> > Then functionally identical is a meaningless tautology, as I have
> > explained several time. My answer is always going to be the same each
> > time I read this misguided non-thought non-experiment. You're just
> > saying 'if everything is the same, how can it be different', and
> > glossing over my correct insistent that everything cannot be the same
> > unless it is the genuine original. Even the original is not the same
> > from year to year, so why is a plastic appliance developed over a few
> > years in a lab based on two dimensional logic going to feel the same
> > as a million living cells resulting from 4 billion years of multi-
> > dimensional experiential evolution?
>
> I am unclear as to what exactly you think the artificial neuron would
> do. If it replicated 99.99% of the behaviour of the biological neuron
> do you think it would result in a slight change in consciousness, such
> as things looking a little bit fuzzy around the edges if the entire
> visual cortex were replaced, or do you think there would be total
> blindness because machines can't support qualia?

Let's sat that 100% of the behavior is only 50% of what a neuron is.
The other 50% is what is doing the behaving and the reasons it has for
behaving that way. It doesn't matter how great your I/O handlers are
if the computer is made of ground beef.

> I have asked several times if you believe that IF the behaviour of a
> device were exactly the same as a biological neuron THEN you would
> deduce that it must also have the consciousness of a neuron, and you
> haven't answered.

I keep answering but you aren't able to let go of your view long
enough to consider mind. The answer is that biological 'function' is
inseparable from BUT NOT IDENTICAL TO awareness. Awareness is not
'caused by' biological function - biology is necessary but not
sufficient to describe sense. Biology is built on the interaction of
passive objects only, so there is no room for the ordinary experience
of interiority that we have to arise from or exist within other
phenomena in the universe.

 It's hugely anthropocentric to say "We are the magic monkeys that
think we feel and see when of course we could only be pachincko
machines responding to complex billiard ball like particle impacts".
Everything becomes clear if you can imagine that part of interior
sensitivity is necessarily in diminishing the appearance of
sensitivity outside yourself. The universe isn't dumb, it's just how
we experience the universe so that we can feel ourselves to be smart.
They are inversely proportionate phenomenologically.

>I've asked the same question differently: could an
> omnipotent being make a device that behaves just like a neuron

No. There is no such thing as something that 'behaves *just like* a
neuron' that is not, in fact, a neuron.

 (but
> isn't a biological neuron) while lacking consciousness, and you
> haven't answered that either. A simple yes/no would do.

This part of the question is invalidated by the answer to the first
part. I've already answered it. It's like saying 'If God could make an
apple that was exactly like an orange, would it lack orange flavor'.
It's a non sequitur.

> >  That you feel responsible for one and not the other is a function of
> > being able to feel at all. That is not achieved by neuron position or
> > circuit topology. Feeling is dependent upon what makes up the circuit.
> > What is it a circle of? A circle of live burning cats feels something,
> > a circle of transistors does not...not in a shrieking, horrifying,
> > unforgettably traumatizing way anyhow. Transistors made of inorganic
> > material doesn't feel - it detects. Burning cats feel AND detect.
>
> So you say. We assume that you are right and see where it leads. It
> leads to contradiction, as you yourself admit, but then you avoid
> discussing how to avoid the contradiction.

What contradiction? I think your view leads to contradiction.
Thermostats that can feel but retina that can't see? It's de-
anthropomorphic prejudice.

> >> > Unless that matter is inside my brain, in which case my subjective
> >> > will can and does supersedes physical law (and vice versa).
>
> >> Nonsense. The physical laws determine what your brain does.
>
> > What physical law determines how you are going to respond to this? Is
> > your opinion from a different part of the Law of Thermodynamics than
> > mine? How do you explain our difference of opinion using brain
> > chemistry alone? It's a throwback to 19th century materialism. 'It is
> > all one great machine with subordinate parts'. The billiard ball model
> > was sunk with Einstein and Heisenberg, Freud and Jung, Picasso and
> > Stravinsky. The 20th century happened.
>
> If our brain chemistry were the same then we would have the same
> opinions; but since our brain chemistry is different we have different
> opinions. Moreover, my opinions change because my brain chemistry
> changes.

So you think that you in fact have no control over your opinion, and
what we are doing here is a meaningless sideshow to some more
important and causally efficacious coordination of neurotransmitter
diffusion-reputake gradients. To me that is really bending over
backward to put the cart before the horse... or does it make more
sense to just say

"CCK, cholecystokinin; CCK8,COOH-terminal CCK-octapeptide; PC,
phosphatidylcholine; DAG,sn-1,2-diacylglycerol; PI,
phosphatidylinositol;P A, phosphatidic acid;PIP, phosphatidylinositol
4-phosphate; PIP2, phosphatidylinositol4,5-bisphosphate; PE,
phosphatidylethanolamine; PS, phosphatidylserine;TG, triacylglycerol;
protein kinase C, Ca2+-activated, phospholipid-dependent protein
kinase; protein kinase A, cyclic AMPdependent protein kinase; TPA,
12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate;IP:3,i nositol trisphosphate;
HEPES4,- (2-hydroxyethyl)-l-piperazineethansulfonicacid EGTA,
[ethylenebis(oxyethylenenitrilo)]tetracetic acid HR"

instead?

> >>The gravitational attraction
> >> between two bodies is different if they are further apart, but that
> >> doesn't mean that they do not follow a consistent physical law!
>
> > They don't follow a physical law, they just do what they can depending
> > on what they are. Our observations of what they do can be summarized
> > by our understanding, which we call a physical law.
>
> >>On the
> >> contrary, the classical law of gravitation says that the force between
> >> them varies inversely as the square of the distance. Similarly, a
> >> molecule in a beaker of water may behave differently compared to the
> >> same molecule in a cell, but both molecules follow exactly the same
> >> chemical laws, which take into account temperature, pH, osmolality,
> >> concentration etc.
>
> > That has nothing to do with the psyche of a human being and it's
> > expression through the tissue of a human brain, body, and lifetime.
>
> Of course it does. It has absolutely everything to do with it. If you
> drank 10 liters of water the sodium concentration in your brain would
> fall and you would go into a coma. If you had a non-material soul that
> was unaffected by biochemistry you would have been OK.

The mind supervenes upon the body and brain, but the brain also
supervenes upon the mind. Consciousness is 100% real, but only 50% of
it can be describes in exclusively physical terms - like mass,
density, scale, etc. Those terms do not apply to the phenomenology of
experience. If it was all biochemical, you could not read something
that 'makes you mad', since the ink of the writing doesn't enter your
bloodstream and cross the blood brain barrier.

>
> > If he breaks his artificial knee, he won't experience the same pain as
> > if he broke his original knee. That is a function. The difference
> > means that it does not 'function normally'. He can take a 3/4" drill
> > and put a hole straight through his patella five inches and not feel a
> > damn thing. That is not 'functioning normally'. Why not admit it?
>
> Similarly with an artificial brain component of the right design, if
> the circulation is cut off he won't have a stroke. But that does not
> mean that he can't have normal cognition.

So you admit, finally, that a replacement part cannot be assumed to
'function normally' just because it appears *to us*  to do what the
thing it replaces used to do.

> >> No, the radioactive decay is truly random,
>
> > What makes you an authority on what is truly random?
>
> Look it up yourself.

I mean how do you know that the idea of randomness corresponds to that
can exist? Randomness is a category of information, which I think
doesn't physically exist.

> >>while the behaviour of the
> >> crowd is just difficult to predict, unless as Brent pointed out
> >> radioactive decay or other quantum events are amplified to make it
> >> truly random also.
>
> > Why would the behavior of a crowds at many different baseball games be
> > any easier to predict than radioactive decay?
>
> Actually it would be much harder to predict the crowd, but the
> distinction between truly random and pseudorandom still applies. Look
> it up.

You look it up. Then tell me how it applies to my example.

> >> > Atoms behave like atoms. Molecules in a live brain behave differently
> >> > than those in a dead brain. What is this force? Cumulative
> >> > entanglement. Significance. Negentropy. Sense.
>
> >> Molecules in a live brain behave differently because the environment
> >> is different, but molecules everywhere in the universe still follow
> >> exactly the same physical laws.
>
> > Of course, molecules do what molecules do. Minds do things to
> > molecules, molecules do things to minds. It's not really debatable.
>
> Do you imagine that a molecule in a cell does things that would
> surprise a biochemist?

No. Of course not. I don't imagine that a halftone pattern surprises a
newspaper publisher either. That doesn't mean that the image of the
halftone makes to the reader is not surprising.

> For example, do you imagine that an ion gate in
> a cell membrane can open apparently without being triggered by any
> change in the physical conditions such as binding of neurotranmitter?
> If so, it should be evident experimentally; can you cite any papers
> showing such amazing results?

You're citing the limitation of your own 50% correct view as a virtue.
The fact is that changes in our cell membranes of our brains are
triggered by our thoughts, and thoughts are triggered by neurological
changes as well. It. is. bidirectional. I know it seems bizarre, as
did Galileo's understanding of astronomy contradict the naive realism
that we should fly off the Earth if it was moving, but I am not
willing to discard the reality of consciousness in favor of the
reality of biology. They can and do coexist quite peacefully. Your
brain doesn't have a problem with you controlling what you think and
say, it's only your conditioning and stubbornness that prevents you
from seeing it as it is, an unassailable and ordinary fact.

Craig

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