So, here it is: Qualia, one of the last remaining unresolved
quandaries for us to splinter and rise on the pedestals of science,
but we must stop, qualophiles say, because, .... “Because what?”
It's not qualia that must rise to the challenge of science, it is the
other way around.
I ask. “Because the what-it-is-likeness of qualia” most of them will
respond. And believe me that is the whole argument from which they
sprout all of the other awkward deductions and misconstrued axioms if
we are to succinctly resume their rigorous, inner-gut, “aprioristic
analysis”. I'll try to expose the absurdity of their stance by making
some analogies while telling the story of how architects and
build 3D models of reality with the help of 3D modeling software.
The 1s and 0s that make the large variety of 3D design software on
market today are all we need in order to bring to virtual-reality
whatever model of our real world we desire. Those 1s and 0s, which
by the way as physical as the neurons in your brain
Yes and no. 1s and 0s are not physical in the way that neurons are.
They have no temperature or specific gravity. They are abstractions we
use to understand how we can manipulate semiconductors to act as
computation devices for us.The only physicality that 1s and 0s have
are as sensotimotive significators in the human mind. In a computer
they are not 1s and 0s, but concrete events experienced by doped
semiconductors of holding and releasing 'charge' (feeling or proto-
feeling or sensorimotive detection-reaction which we consider
though not of the
same assortment (see below), are further arranged into sub-modules
that are further integrated into other different parts and subsystems
of the computer onto which the software they are part of is running
on, so their arrangement is obviously far from aleatory. One needs to
adopt the intentional stance in order to understand the intricacies,
details and roles that these specific particular modules play in this
large and complex computer programs.
If you had the desire you could bring to virtual reality any city of
the world you want. Let's for example take the city of Rome. Every
monument, restaurant, hospital, park, mall and police department can
be accounted for in a detailed, virtual replica which we can model
using one of these 3D modeling programs. Every car, plane and boat,
even the people and their biomechanics are so well represented that
could easily mistake the computer model for the real thing.
We modern humans could mistake the model for the real thing, but
nothing else in the universe would. Try to grow some real grapes in a
virtual Rome and it won't work. 3D models are an aid for human
visualization. They have no coherence independent of our usage of
them. Rome is a city made of tons of concrete, wood, ceramic, etc.
It's located in Italy and filled with living people who are constantly
changing the city, etc. A 3D model is an image in our eyes and mind
produced by a computer and a graphic display.
are looking at the monitor screen from our God-like-point-of-view.
the points, lines, 2D-planes and 3D objects in this digital
presentation have their properties and behavior ruled by simulated
laws of physics which are identical to the laws encountered in our
Not at all. If you throw a virtual stone at your virtual Colosseum, it
makes no sound. A picture of a city is not a city. The map is not the
territory, even a really good map.
These objects and the laws that govern them are 100%
traceable to the 1s and 0s, that is, to the voltages and transistors
on the silica chips that make up the computer onto which the software
is runs on. We have a 100% description of the city of Rome in our
computer in the sense that there is no object in that model that we
can't say all there is to say about it and the movement of the
lines and planes which compose it because they're all accounted for
the 0s and 1s saved on the hard-drive and then loaded into the RAM
video-RAM of our state of the art video graphics card.
A city isn't made of just points, lines, and planes. That's just one
aspect of a human visual representation. It is to say that an
accounting spreadsheet is 100% traceable to a factory and it's
Let's call that
perspective, the perspective of knowing all there is to know about
3D-model, the third-person perspective (the perspective described by
using only third-party objective data). What's interesting is that
of these 3D design programs have the option to add cameras to
world model you are currently developing. Cameras present a scene
a particular point-of-view (POV – or point of reference, call it how
you will). Camera objects simulate still-image, motion picture, or
video cameras in the real world and have the same usage here. The
benefit of cameras is that you can position them anywhere within a
scene to offer a custom view. You can imagine that camera not only as
a point of view but also as an area point of view (all the light
reflected from the objects in your particular world model enter the
lens of the camera), but for our particular mental exercise this
doesn't matter. What you need to know is that our virtual cameras can
perfectly simulate real world cameras and all the optical science of
the lens is integrated in the program making the simulated models
similar to the ones that are found real life. We’ll use POVs and
interchangeably from now on; they mean the same thing in the logic of
The point-of-view (POV) of the camera is obviously completely
traceable and mathematically deducible from the third-person
perspective of the current model we are simulating and from the
physical characteristics of the virtual lens built into the camera
through which the light reflected of the objects in the model is
projected (Bare in mind that the physical properties and optics of
lens are also simulated by the computer model). Of course, the
software does all that calculation and drawing for you. But if you
the ambition you could practically do all that work for yourself by
taking the 3D-model’s mathematical and geometric data from the saved
computer file containing your particular model description and
calculate on sheets of paper how objects from it would look and
from a particular CPOV, and more to that, you could literally draw
those objects yourself by using the widely known techniques of
descriptive geometry (the same as the ones used by the 3D modeling
software). But what point would that make when we already have
computers that achieve this arduous task for us? Maybe living in a
period of time without computers would make this easily relentless
task one worth considering.
So, we can basically take a virtual trip to whatever part of Rome we
want by just jumping inside a CPOV provided to us by the software. We
can see, experience what it is like to be in Rome by adopting
CPOV which will be calculated and drawn to us by this complex but
describable and understandable computer program. The software would
no mystery to us if we were sufficiently trained programmers,
architects and mathematicians. The WIIL of experiencing Rome will
never be a mystery to us also if we’ll let the 3D design software do
the job of calculating and drawing the CPOV for us.
Imagine how absurd that would sound to someone who is blind and lives
in Rome. Do they have no WIIL of experiencing Rome?
Of course, as said
above, we can achieve the same WIIL by making strenuous calculations
and draw ourselves on sheets of paper exactly the same POV “painted”
to us by the computer program. Whatever our choice one thing stands
pure reason: We will achieve to experience the what-it-is-likeness
(WIIL) of Rome by deducing it from objective, third-party data that
can all share by accessing the program file that contains the 3D-
third-person description; so there is nothing special about it.
My WIIL is almost completely different as an American visitor from
what it was like for people who live there. This thought experiment is
based on a strawman of qualia, with no resemblance to actual
subjective experience. It is to say that by producing a perfect copy
of a book written in Chinese, whoever reads it will automatically be
able to read Chinese.
whole point is that the experience of the WIIL can be achieved and
built by/for us using third-person data).
Of course. We have already achieved that: Movies, TV, radio,
photographs. All of which are far superior qualitatively at enabling
WIIL experiences than anything that computers have achieved separately
from those media.
The WIIL only seems to be
some kind of metaphysical thing because of its circumstantial
relatedness with the idiosyncrasies of the POV.
It doesn't seem metaphysical to me at all. It is as physical as a
quark or a galaxy, it just 'insists' and 'persists' through time
rather than exists across space. What is metaphysical is the idea that
subjective perception spontaneously emerges from computation.
No need to squander
energy contriving not-worth-considering meanings because of this
relatedness. The WIIL is the intentional interpretation of the
mathematical description of the physical objects' properties and
relationships to each other which the POV describes; it is the
richness and detail of the description of the POV taken as a whole by
whatever is on the other side of the lens. On the other hand the POV
can be accounted for by its mathematical and geometrical description;
it’s all data, 0s and 1s.
Then why do you need a lens? Why is there a 'side'? If it's all data,
at what point do 0s and 1s start to feel like they are on a side of
which intentionally interprets rather than one which performs generic
a-signifying data manipulations?
The WIIL and the POV represent the same
thing but each are different interpretations of a specific slice of
the 3D model: one is a reducible, mathematical and geometric
description of a set of objects and how their would appear from a
certain vantage point (i.e. the POV), the other one is the non-
reducible, intentional, apparently immediate interpretation of all
that data contained in the POV taken as a whole.
Yes! They are two different (symmetrically opposite to be exact)
presentations of the same underlying ontology. The problem is that
your view arbitrarily privileges one view as real and the other as
'illusion' or 'metaphysical'. Both are real is some sense, unreal in
another, both real and unreal in another, and neither real nor unreal
in another. The underlying ontology is in fact the gap which separates
and the sense which infers the wholeness underneath the gap.
The WIIL is all
accounted for, we know all about it: how it comes to existence, how
Oh? Like what? What do we know about green that we can explain to a
blind person to give them a precise accounting of green?
is 100% physical but non-reducible because of its intentionality, and
how the circumstantial relation to its POV makes it seem as if it’s
something separate from it but that's an illusion.
Illusion? Intentionality? Are these things made of 1s and 0s?
The what-it-is-likeness (WIIL) of points-of-view (POVs) in our model
of Rome are unique in the sense that they each have idiosyncrasies in
the arrangement of points, lines, planes, colors and light
that make up the objects in the model, idiosyncrasies caused by the
perspective that we randomly chose to be a point or a certain area
(lens of the camera) on the map of our 3D model onto which the light
reflected by some of the objects contained in it is projected
The WIIL is 100% mathematically, geometrically described and
for by the calculations and drawings done in order to design the POV
that we experience the WIIL through. To make it more clearly lets
describe the relationship between the WIIL and the POV a little more.
The WIIL is not something separate from the POV in one important
and here sits the crux of my argumentation: The POV which was
and created from the objective, third-person perspective of the
computer model is the WIIL in the sense that all we need to know if
are to describe the WIIL is the mathematical description of the POV
and that is all. For someone (or something) to experience objects
contained in the city model through a specific CPOV that is how WIILs
come into existence. The sole act of accessing that POV (i.e, its
mathematical description) is the WIIL.
The POV has no WIIL. The WIIL is inferred as an extension of our
individual perception. Without a graphic display and eyes to see it,
there is no POV.
The question "And then what
happens?" has no meaning here because nothing happens next. As I've
said above you can think of POVs as reducible in the sense that they
can be accounted for mathematically by knowing each coordinate of
every point belonging to every object in its description, and you can
think at WIIL as a non-reducible, intentional representation of the
objects described by that POV taken as a whole by the observer
on the other side of the lens. The sole act of acknowledging the
mathematical and geometric descriptive richness of a piece of the
world through the lens of the camera-point-of-view (CPOV) by whatever
remains on the other side of the lens is the WIIL and nothing more is
there to be said; the story is complete.
The story has not even begun. There is no such thing as mathematical
and geometric descriptive richness, only precision and resolution.
There is no world-making quality of perception oozing out of abstract
coordinates and points.
Acknowledging the richness in
description of the mathematical and geometric data does not mean that
the observer needs to understand all the intricate equations,
elaborate calculations and geometric deductions; all there needs to
done is for that observer is to be hit with all that idiosyncratic
data ". “Can you describe this WIIL?" Of course, by providing you
all the mathematical relations between all the points, planes and
surface properties that describe the POV through which this wholeness
of experience (WIIL) comes to reality. How did i get those points and
planes and their properties? Again, I got them from the third-party,
objective data contained in the 3D-model of the city located on the
and 0s hardwired on the hard-drive of the computer.
What do 3-D models have to do with the smell of cheese or the memory
of feeling in one's teeth, the blueness of blue. Those are examples of
qualia, not a CGI interactive map of Rome.
Something on privateness now. The WILL is only private in the sense
that only something which experiences a certain POV can experience
WIIL but that is all. Can this POV be shared with others? Of course.
After we create that CPOV in the computer program we can save it to a
file and send it via email to whatever part of the globe you want for
someone else to experience its WIIL. So, the possibility of sharing
with others makes it a not very good candidate for privateness. POVs
are only unique, but hardly private so let's not confuse the terms.
Sharing the POV still generates individual, private WIILs. I can give
you an mp3 but my WILL of that song is that it is a great song but
yours may be a boring song.
The same reasons as above I should say go for the qualia of color,
smells, etc. So, I doubt there is any difference with these types of
experiences. What it is like to see a color is just experiencing the
complete model from a slice of the world from a certain POV.
Then it's existence would be redundant and irrelevant. Why should we
need more than one sense? What it's like to hear music is nothing like
seeing something, even in synesthesia where the sense 'data' is
presumably directly translated from one sense modality to another. The
data is the same, but the qualia *cannot be translated* even if the
end result from a functional perspective might seem the same to an
outside observer (ie if I am seeing a base drum sound instead of
hearing it, I can produce accurate estimates of the timing, intensity,
rhythm, etc of the drum, but I cannot hear it).
that POV be deduced and inferred from the widely agreed-upon,
sufficient, scientific data as qualophiles’ plea for metaphysics
suggest eludes me so far as i can see,
That's because you don't seem to have given any consideration to what
they are actually talking about. I agree that qualia are not
metaphysical though, unless you are talking about physics only in
terms of material objects as seen from the outside. Qualia is physical
alright, which is why they are altered with a molecule like LSD, but
there is nothing about the molecule LSD which is significant or
interesting without a human nervous system to experience it.
so that's why the they haven't
proved anything yet. I doubt they'll ever will. If we knew almost
everything there is to know about the particles and forces that make
up our world we could be able to build models of whatever brains we'd
like that could experience all there is to be possible designable as
We can't even bring a dead ant back to life. We should know enough
about particles and forces already to do that.
Daniel Dennett's RoboMarry shouldn't have a hard job at building
into herself without access to the already build in color-modules
are part of her 100% silica made brain. And that's our next story.
Here's where I de-bunk Dennett's views if you're interested:
I'm not familiar with RoboMarry, but I'll debunk that for you if you
like another time. Dennett's worldview is obsolete. Mine is superior.
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