Ooops

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stephen Lin <sw...@post.harvard.edu>
Date: Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:59 PM
Subject: Lack of L/M cone selectivity and the inverted qualia problem
To: d...@u.washington.edu


Dear Dr. Dacey,

I wanted to introduce myself: I'm a longtime fan of your work,
particularly in the problem of L/M cone selectivity (or lack thereof)
by interneurons in the retina and its consequences for developmental
and evolutionary neurobiology.  My interest started about a decade
ago, when I was in high school, and I completed a computational
neuroscience project wherein I tried to show that the mixed L/M model
of foveal midget ganglion cell surrounds was consistent with its
observed behavior in response to various stimuli (I did this by
basically implementing my own compartment-model based neural simulator
framework in C++ and wiring up a small-scale model of the L/M
pathway.) I fondly remember reading a few of your papers
(collaborations with Dr. Lee, I think) as background research for my
project.

Anyway, I'm not sure what your feelings are about philosophy of mind
questions, but I'm writing to you because I was hoping to get your
opinion of a particular one I've had on my mind for quite some time,
and which ultimately provided the impetus for my independent research
back in high school.  Basically, it seems to me that the lack of
differential L/M selectivity in the retina implies that there can be
no preferred orientation for the red/green qualia color axis, if such
a thing exists.  Therefore, at least in the case of red/green color
vision, it seems that 1) red/green qualia may be arbitrarily inverted
between different individuals or (more likely, from my perspective) 2)
qualia don't really exist, and that, despite intuition, there is
nothing unique about the subjective experience of "red" versus the
subjective experience of "green", independent of the neurally coded
information that the two form a color axis.  Unfortunately, I have not
seen this argument ever described anywhere, which has been nagging me
for quite some time.

Just to explain why I'm deciding to e-mail you know, this whole idea
was re-prompted by a question that I read today in an online science
forum:

http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/hnh4s/can_people_perceive_colors_differently_from_one/
to which I decided to respond (as the username "hoenikker") with a
somewhat lengthy description of my argument, so I hope you can take a
look at that if it's unclear what I mean.

if you are able, please let me know if you have any thoughts on the
matter.  I was also thinking about contacting Dr. Daniel Dennet at
Tufts and explaining my argument to him, and was wondering if you two
may have ever corresponded about color vision: he's often used color
vision as an example in his criticism of qualia, but doesn't seem to
have ever picked up on this particular (possible) property of retinal
wiring and its consequences.

Thank you!
Stephen

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