On Oct 13, 4:49 pm, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 1:43 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:

> > 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.

The part of the brain that is involved in the interview does have
access to to some optical detection though. That's how it can reach
out and find an object when it is asked to. This proves that visual
qualia is not necessary for optical function. That was my only point
to make, and blindsight proves beyond a doubt that is the case, thus
invalidating all arguments based on a presumed automatic conjuring of
subjective qualia as a consequence of function or mechanism.

> > 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.

No. They could use echolocation, electric-field sensation, ESP, who
knows. That's not my point though. Even allowing that human beings can
only detect what is in front of them at a distance by using the
optical sensors in the front of their skull, there is absolutely no
reason to believe that any visual 'seeing' is going on as far as
having a subjective experience comparable to a human visual one, with
colors, shapes, images, etc.

Like a computer without a monitor, the hand eye coordination can keep
right on doing what it's doing, just like the stomach does, without
any particular qualia. I happen to think that there is some qualia on
the meta-cellular level, but without the visual cortex involved, there
is no light, no color, no sight at all. Otherwise we wouldn't need a
visual cortex, we could just have drill a hole in our skull and put a
lens on the outside of it and expect to see through it.

> > > of the brain.
> > > Therefore we cannot use the claim of blindness to assert that no
> > processes
> > > 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.

I agree, and I think that there is a proto-visual qualia likely for
every human cell since it's based on the same eukaryotic stem cell
which we know has light sensitivity at least in some of it's forms. I
would think that this sensitivity is developed much more in the rod
and cone cells than say bone marrow cells, but that visual cortex
neurons have an exquisite sensitivity to the rod and cone cells which
they use as a stem-qualia, if you will, to develop, amplify, and
augment into this big spectacular experience on the macro
psychological level. Blindsight shows that the rest of the brain can
do a decent job without that big expensive production, which shows
that it's not a given that visual qualia arises out of any kind of
inevitable determinism or evolutionary biology.

> > For
> > > 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?

No, it's not a something at all. If I look at a Chinese character
without knowing how to read Chinese, I get no semantic information,
just optical patterns. If I learn Chinese there is no change in the
character. I have not added something to it, nor is there a new thing
which has come into being. All that has changed is my ability to make
sense of what was always there - molecules of ink on paper which is
publicly available through optics. Those do not inform, they just fade
over time.

> > 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
> experience.

Just because what the optic nerve is doing can be interpreted in a
visual way by a visual cortex doesn't mean that it is visual
information. Congenitally blind people have tactile interpretations
only. If you stimulate the optic nerve, they get no visual
interpretation. If not for having a retina on one end and a visual
cortex on the other, the optic nerve would be no different from the
auditory nerve. Synesthesia proves this. We can taste through our
eyes, see colors by reading words, etc. This is why sense is the
universal primitive. All phenomena owe their essence and existence to
the fundamental process of sense making - detecting, feeling, feeling
feelings, feeling feelings of feelings, etc. This is what thought is.
Not a secret arithmetic formula that makes a genie come out of a

> >  Likewise, someone with Anton's syndrome may have the opposite
> > > defect in wiring, where the verbal center of the brain does receive
> > visual
> > > information, but the parts of the brain that integrates it to control
> > motion
> > > 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
> receive.

That's not a conclusion, it's just an assertion of the obvious. The
whole point of the absent qualia thought experiment is to say that you
wouldn't be able to act like you could see if you can't see. All a
blindsighted person has to do to contrafactualize that is to not
mention to anyone that they can't see.

> 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.

It doesn't have to function equivalently. It just has to function
minimally despite having no visual qualia. Blindsight satisfies that
criteria easily, and thus robustly disproves the objection of absent

> > > > 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

Information cannot be measured or observed., because there is no 'it'
there at all. Think of the Chinese character. What is being
transmitted? The optical input is identical whether I can read it or
not. There is no information that exists in space or matter.
Information is a category of sensorimotive experience of pattern
recognition over time. It's a made up term to refer to anything that
makes us feel like something is meaningful. You can measure and
observe sorry or happiness too, but that doesn't make them phenomena
which qualia represents. Information is the same thing - a category of
qualia, not the purpose of qualia.

> various mediums, including neural pathways in the brain.  How would we
> quantify or observe the movement of experiences through the brain?

The way we always do. Remembering, comparing, guessing, questioning,

> > > > 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
> > you
> > > 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.

Not sure what you mean. If I'm stuck in the same bag of skin with
someone who can see, but I'm blind, then I'm just along for the ride.
The other person's ability to see and guide the body around doesn't
mean that I can see too.

> > > > > 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
> > in
> > > 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
> can see.

But with the ventriloquist, the dummy can act as though it can see.

> > 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.

It's not doing it on it's own, it needs to have a custom designed
program to respond to optical stimuli. There is no sign of any visual
interpretation going on. It's pure blindsight. It could just as easily
be smelling or tasting the light. We have no idea what a boolean
algebra scripted semiconductor gets from an electronic CCD, but I'd
bet that it's not rich emerald greens and blood red roses.

> > 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
> the UD?

Without an audience that can tell the difference between one program
and another, there is no difference between any of them, it's all just
static and noise rearranged. The UD by iself is a just an endless
abacus, clicking meaninglessly forever, making no coherent pattern or
sense - a noisemaker. It is only Bruno's ability to propagate his
sensemaking motives through an a-signifying machine to a sensemaking
audience of the same ontological type as Bruno which can understand
patterns of the kind the UD produces which generates any novelty at

> > > > > 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
> > the
> > > 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?

There are no signals, information, or algorithms in the brain. It's
just a civilization of single celled animals. All of the meaning is
supplied subjectively. Objectively the brain is nothing but a
complicated sponge. Do we use the brain for more than storage? Sure.
We live our whole lives through our brain. It's our processor, HD, i/
o, internet connection, but it's not the user. We are the user (or a
user anyways...we may not be the only ones).


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