On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 1:43 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> On Oct 13, 11:04 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:39 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com
> > > On Oct 13, 12:52 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > On Oct 12, 2011, at 9:44 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>
> > > > wrote:
> > > > >http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1676
> > > > > "As stated above, blindsight is seen clinically as a contrast
> > > > > a lack of declarative knowledge about a stimulus and a high rate of
> > > > > correct answers to questions about the stimulus (1). People
> > > > > from blindsight claim to see nothing, and are therefore unable to
> > > > > reach spontaneously for stimuli, cannot decide whether or not
> > > > > are present, and do not know what objects look like. In this sense,
> > > > > they are blind. However, they are able to give correct answers when
> > > > > asked to decide between given alternatives (1). Studies done with
> > > > > subjects that exhibit blindsight have shown that they are able to
> > > > > guess reliably only about certain features of stimuli having to do
> > > > > with motion, location and direction of stimuli. They are also able
> > > > > discriminate simple forms, and can shape their hands in a way
> > > > > appropriate to grasping the object when asked to try. Some may show
> > > > > color discrimination as well (2). Subjects also show visual
> > > > > capacities, including reflexes (e.g. the pupil reacts to changes in
> > > > > light), implicit reactions and voluntary responses (3). "
> > > > > Sounds like absent qualia to me.
> > > > > "people suffering from blindsight claim to see nothing"
> > > > > So Stathis, Jason, Bruno... how do you know that your computer
> > > > > doesn't have blindsight if it's eyes seem to work? Is it lying when
> > > > > says it can't see, or is it seeing without being able to look at
> > > > > it is seeing?
> > > > It seems blindsight is the result of some modules receiving visual
> > > > information but not all the modules which would normally receive it.
> > > > In any event, one with blind sight is not functionally equivalent to
> > > > normally sighted person.
> > > It doesn't matter whether they are functionally equivalent. The point
> > > is that the function of sight is in some ways independent from the
> > > qulaia of visual perception.
> > I don't think you have established this. See below.
> > > This is the big deal about absent qualia,
> > > that it would be too crazy if we could somehow see without seeing, yet
> > > this is evidence of just that.
> > All we learn when we interview someone is what level of access their
> > center of the brain has to other perceptual functions
> I think it's too simplistic to talk about a verbal center acting on
> it's own. There is no suggestion that a sightblind patient has been
> reduced to a talking parrot by their condition. We have no reason to
> doubt the authenticity of the condition that they describe.
There is a condition, the part of the brain that is involved in the
interview does not have the same level of access to the visual information
it formally had.
> If there
> were no such condition, that would tend to support functionalism, so
> even the existence of reports of sightblindness are somewhat
> contrafactual for functionalism.
If the blind-sighted person can still catch a frisbee, then some part(s) of
their brain are still able to see.
> > of the brain.
> > Therefore we cannot use the claim of blindness to assert that no
> > in the person's brain are receiving processed visual information.
> There is no question that parts of the brain are making sense of
> optical experiences through the eyes but there is no reason to assume
> that it is processed as visual qualia.
True, the qualia are likely experienced differently by the other parts of
the brain. Yet, I'm not sure we can deny the absence of visual qualia of
any kind throughout the brain. This is true for the same reason you cannot
deny that your immune system may be experiencing something.
> > instance, a person with blind sight might still be able to catch a thrown
> > ball, because the motor section of the brain is receiving visual
> > information.
> There is no such thing as information. It is only the subjective
> capacity to be informed.
This leads to a solipsistic definition of information, but it is still
information nonetheless, is it not? Is it not something that informs?
> To talk about visual information without a
> subjective experience is like saying that your video card could be
> watching a movie.
I don't think so. Your optic nerve may not experience anything, but it is a
carrier for information which is ultimately interpreted to form your visual
> Likewise, someone with Anton's syndrome may have the opposite
> > defect in wiring, where the verbal center of the brain does receive
> > information, but the parts of the brain that integrates it to control
> > and reflexes do not.
> > > It is not necessary for any of the
> > > qualia of vision to be present to achieve some of the functional
> > > benefit of sight.
> > This is somewhat of a leap.
> Why? If we believe the reports of blindsight, what other conclusion
> can we make?
You can conclude (assuming the person is not lying or delusional) that at
least a portion of their brain is not receiving the same input it used to
This is a conservative conclusion. The conclusion that a
person/robot/computer/etc. could function equivalently with or without
visual qualia existing anywhere is less supported.
> > > Qualia may or may not assist us functionally at all.
> > Replace qualia with "awareness of information", and you can see how
> > necessary it is for certain processes to be aware of some piece of
> > information in order to function properly.
> Qualia is not awareness of information. We are informed by qualia, but
> we can be informed more effectively through unconscious processes.
> Replace information with experiences instead.
It is possible to measure and observe the transmission of information over
various mediums, including neural pathways in the brain. How would we
quantify or observe the movement of experiences through the brain?
> > > Blindsight shows the potential from an unconscious form of vision to
> > > develop in the same way that our digestion or immune system operates
> > > within a complex, survival intensive environment without conjuring up
> > > a world of top-level qualia with voluntary control.
> > I think your conclusion from the phenomenon of blindsight is premature.
> > Imagine a coinjoined twin who just had one very big head and two brains.
> > One brain controlled walking and received input from the eyes, the other
> > brain received input from the ears and controlled talking. What could
> > conclude from this twin's insistence that it was unable to see?
> I conclude that the blind twin is telling the truth. It's no different
> than a passenger in a car asserting that they aren't driving.
Right, but notice that you cannot conclude that there is no visual qualia
experienced any entities within that skill.
> > > > If a robot does things that only something that can see can do, then
> > > > there must be something within it that sees.
> > > Not at all. I can make a ventriloquist dummy respond to things that
> > > only something can see can do but there is nothing within it that
> > > sees.
> > You are not considering the whole system, which includes both the
> > ventriloquist dummy and the ventriloquist. Obviously there is something
> > that system which sees (the ventriloquist). Take the ventrioliquist away
> > and the dummy can no longer behave as if it sees. This example only
> > confirms my original statement.
> Your argument is that if something acts like it sees then that means
> that thing must see. If you acknowledge that a dummy can't see then
I acknowledged that a dummy by itself cannot see and cannot act as though it
> why not extend the same logic to a computer?
A robot (on its own) can perform actions that only something which can see
(process, act on, respond to visual stimuli) can do.
> The programmer is the
> ventriloquist who has recorded his act in advance so that a switching
> system routes inputs with recorded outputs.
So when Bruno wrote the UD, a program which produces and runs every possible
program, whose combined behaviors are infinite in variety, depth and
complexity, do you believe Bruno had within his mind all that unlimited
variety, depth and complexity? In the UD is a program that generates the
same e-mail responses you have during your entire time on this list. Did
Bruno record his impression of you (before he even met you) when he wrote
> > > > That some person maintains they cannot see is not proof that nothing
> > > > in their head is seeing.
> > > I agree. That's why my idea is that all cells potentially 'see' to
> > > some extent, it's just our top level brain-scale sight which sees in a
> > > human visual experience which is relevant to the world in which our
> > > body functions as a single entity.
> > What's the point of the brain if nerve cells can simply sense what all
> > other cells want to do and respond appropriately?
> The point is to have a deeper cache of sensorimotive experiences to
> draw from and enjoy. Some species liked swimming fast, ours liked
> playing with memories. Lots of organisms survive as well as we do
> without having developed a brain..worms, plankton, etc.
Do you think the only purpose of the brain is to serve as a memory bank? It
doesn't process signals, route information, execute algorithms, etc?
> > > >Consider split brain patients, when you hold
> > > > a conversation with a split brain patient, which hemisphere are you
> > > > talking to? What might the other hemisphere be aware of that the
> > > > is not?
> > > Sure, there are probably many interior subjects and proto subjects
> > > within the psyche. That's who we experience in our dreams. If the top
> > > dog gets whacked on the head, then next dream they have may feature
> > > their former self as a supporting character while the primary identity
> > > is promoted from the undamaged ranks. It may not be discretely
> > > modular, the overall personality can just shift, and this happens
> > > naturally as we mature. We pay attention to different voices and it
> > > shapes our identity and expression more.
> > Interesting ideas.
> > Jason
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