On Sep 18, 2012, at 10:38 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:29:44 AM UTC-4, Jason wrote:

Here is an example:

Functional MRI scans have indicated that an area of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex, processes pain information to determine how a person is affected. Severing the link to this part of the brain has a curious effect on one's reaction to pain. A condition known as pain dissociation is the result. Along with brain surgery such as lobotomy or cingulotomy, the condition may also occur through the administration of certain drugs such as morphine. Those with pain dissociation still perceive pain; they are aware of its location and intensity but pain is no longer unpleasant or distressing. Paul Brand, a surgeon and author on the subject of pain recounted the case of a woman who had suffered with a severe and chronic pain for more than a decade: She agreed to a surgery that would separate the neural pathways between her frontal lobes and the rest of her brain. The surgery was a success. Brand visited the woman a year later, and inquired about her pain. She said, “Oh, yes, its still there. I just don't worry about it anymor e.” With a smile she continued, “In fact, it's still agonizing. But I don't mind.”

The conclusion: even seemingly simple qualia, like pain are far from simple.

That is a conclusion, but I think the wrong one. Human qualia are not simple, but that does not at all mean that qualia re not simple.

I agree with this.

We are titanically enormous organisms made of other organisms. Our human experience is loaded with cognitive, emotional, and sensory qualia, corresponding to the evolution of life, our species, cultures, families, and individuals. Our pain is a Taj Mahal, and if you remove enough bricks, some towers fall and maybe one part of the palace no longer relates to another part. What you describe suggests exactly that - some part of us feels the pain on a sub-personal level, but the personal level is not alarmed by it because it's qualia has lost the red end of it's spectrum so to speak and now is blue-shifted toward an anesthetized intellectual quality of being.

I mostly agree with what you are saying here.

I think Marvin Minksy understands this well, and provides a good explanation:

Marvin Minsky considers it to be “a huge mistake-that attempt to rei fy 'feeling' as an independent entity, with an essence that's indesc ribable. As I see it, feelings are not strange alien things. It is precisely those cognitive changes themselves that constitute what ' hurting' is-and this also includes all those clumsy attempts to repr esent and summarize those changes. The big mistake comes from looki ng for some single, simple, 'essence' of hurting, rather than recogn izing that this is the word we use for complex rearrangement of our disposition of resources.”

He's right that there is no essence of hurting (qualia is always a subject, not an object, so it's essence is the same as it's 'envelope'. It's a-mereological. He's completely wrong about hurting being something other than what it is though.

He didn't claim they are something they are not, just that they are not irreducable.

Hurting is an experience. A complex rearrangement of our disposition of resources is completely irrelevant. Complex to who? Why would 'rearrangements' 'feel' like something?

Consciousness is awareness of information. You might be aware of the information, like the fact that you are looking at a computer screen, or the knowledge of what the text on that screen is. You might be aware that you are in a state of pain, and you might also be aware of the fact that it is uncomfortable and want it to end. Some people, like the woman in my example, can have the awareness of being in pain without the awareness that they want it to end.

It only seems to make sense form the retrospective view of consciousness where we take it for granted. If we start instead from a universe of resources and dispositions, then the idea that a rearrangement of them should entail some kind of experience is a completely metaphysical, magical just-so story that has no basis in science.

No it is absolutely necessary. If you had no knowledge regarding what you were seeing, no qualia at all, you would be blind and dysfunctional.

You might cite blund sighr as a counter example, but actually i think it is evidence of modularity if mind. Those with blind sight appear to have a disconnect between the visual processing parts of their brain and others. For example, they may still have reflexes, like the ability to avoid obsticles or catch a thrown ball, but the language center of their brain is disconnected, and so the part of the brain that talks says it can't see.

Sure, to us it makes sense that the feeling of pain should have a function, but it makes no sense to a function to have a feeling. None.

It can make sense if you think about it long enough. Think of googles self-driving cars. Might they have some quale representing the experience of spotting a green light or a stop sign?

According to Minsky, human consciousness involves the interplay between as many as 400 separate sub-organs of the brain. One can imagine a symphony of activity resulting from these individual regions,

A symphony of what? Who is there to hear it?

It's a metaphor for a large number of interacting and interfering parts.

Stop imagining things and think of what is actually there once you reduce the universe to unconscious processing of dead data.

The difference between dead and alive is a question of the organization, the patterns of the constituent matter.

You could reduce any life form to "lifeless bouncing around of dead atoms.". But this doesn't get anywhere useful.

All I suggest is the same applies to the difference between consciousness and lack of consciousness. The organization and patterns of some system determine what it is or can be conscious of.

each acting on each others' signals and in turn reacting to how those other regions are then affected, in a kind of perpetual and intertwined feedback loop of enormous complexity.

It's an 'angels on the head of a pin' fantasy. There is no signalling without something to interpret some concretely real event as a signal.

There is something: us

You can have a territory without a map, but you can't have a map without a territory.

There are centers of the brain for sight, touch, language, hearing, drawing, pain, etc. They are all in some (or many) ways connected to each other. See this for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modularity_of_mind

First of all, so what, and secondly it's not exactly true. Blind people use their visual cortex for tactile experience. The modularity of mind says nothing about qualia. It says only that sub- personal and personal levels of experience have ordered relations.

It explains the unexplainability of qualia.

which have no experience or qualia whatsoever, yet can detect "notifications" of a presumably epiphenomenal "state" of "pain".

Pain is anything but epiphenomenal. The fact that someone is able to talk about it rules out it being an epiphenomenon.

That's the reality, but your view does not accommodate the reality. You have no model for how pain can interface causally with 'complex rearrangement of our disposition of resources'. If you have the function, why would you need an experience?

They are one and the same. This is functionalism (computationalism).

How would such an experience appear? Where is the point of translation?

If the brain is doing all of the work, why does the top level organism have some other worthless abstraction layer of "experience" when, as blindsight proves, we are perfectly capable of processing information without any conscious qualia at all.

It's not worthless at all. Would you still be able to function if all you knew were the raw firing data of the millions of photosensitive cells in your retina? No, it takes many layers of perception, detecting lines, depth perception, motion, colors, objects, faces, etc. for the sense of sight to be as useful as it is to us.

Ugh. I don't know if there is any way that I can show you this blind spot if you don't see it for yourself, but if you are interested I will keep trying to explain it. If you aren't interested, then you are wasting your time talking to me, because what your view says I have known backwards and forwards for many years.

Let's say I am a computer. You are telling me "Would you still be able to function if all you knew were the raw firing data of the millions of electronically sensitive semiconductors in your graphics card? Yes. I would.

You wouldn't be processing it in the same way as a brain so I would not expect a video card to be conscious in the same way.

I require no layers of software to organize this data into other kinds of data, nor would it make any sense that there could be any such thing as 'other kinds of data'. To the contrary, the raw firing of the semiconductors is all that is required to render data from the motherboard to be spewed out to a video screen (which would of course be invisible and irrelevant to a computer).

The videocard can't recognize objects or faces.

After the different layers process this information and share it with the other brain regions, we lose the ability to explain how it is we recognize a face, or how red differs from green. These determinations were done by a lower level module, and its internal processing is not privy to other brain regions (such as the brain region that talks), and so it remains mysterious.

All of that can and would occur without anything like 'experience'.

So it is an accident that we can see and know we can see, since we could be zombies? How do you know I am not a zombie? Maybe only conscious people can understand your theory and everyone who fails to get it is confused due to their zombiehood.

Information is very close to consciousness, but ultimately fails to sustain itself. The pixels on your screen have no way to detect each other or process the image that you see as a coherent gestalt, and the processor behind the graphics generation has no way to detect the visual end result, and if it did, it would be completely superfluous. Your graphics card does not need to see anything.

Of course the pixels don't process themselves. You need a brain with complex software and filters to make sense of the flood of photons entering the eye.

If there are photons (and I maintain that there are not) flooding into the eye, they only get as far as turning on a vitamin A isomer to change shape and turn off the rod cell's flow of glutamate. Everything else is biochemical and endogenous. What we see is as much vitamin A as it is photons.

And you need other regions of the brain to make sense of the visual scene (to integrate it into an even larger context).

Insects have eyes too. Why do we need such a huge visual cortex to do what a baby mosquito can do?

They can see too, I think.

But we are much more capable in general, and need more neurons to perform those more complex functions.

To me it makes more sense to see information as nothing but the semiotic protocols developed by perceptual participation (experience) to elaborate and deepen the qualitative richness of those experiences.

I wish I did not have to struggle to translate your sentences so frequently. I completely failed on this one.

I mean that if you have information that performs functions, then you don't need experience. Therefore it makes more sense to see that experience is the thing that cannot be reduced to anything simpler and that all forms of information are nothing more than tools used to share experiences.

Thank you that was much clearer. So is your theory any different from idealism?

Of course, the protocols which are maps of one level of experience are the territory of another, which is what makes it confusing to try to reverse engineer consciousness from such an incredibly complex example as a Homo sapien.

Definitely. Our consciousness is not a simple thing, it involves hundreds of billions of (literally) moving parts.

Our pinch is a continuum of sensory, emotional, and cognitive interaction because we are made of the qualia of hundreds of billions of neurons


and billions of lifetimes of different species and substances.

I don't think the preceding life times or substances is relevant.

I know, I didn't think that either, but now I see that there is no reason to believe it wouldn't be. You are just going on your naive realism that experiences vanish when you are no longer aware of them. The universe may have an entirely different perspective outside of a human lifetime.

I am not opposed to this idea.

If your duplicate were created randomly by some quantum fluctuation its brain would create the same experience.

Why? Quantum events may be unrepeatable. Eventness may be unrepeatability itself.

I think identical brains have identical experiences. Maybe they don't, but if not then what hope do we have to understand them?

That only means our pain can seem like information to us, not that all pain arises from information processing.

I think it is a worth making the distinction that it is the system (doing the processing) that has the experience, not the information or the processing of the information. The information from the perspective of the system, makes a difference to the system causing it to enter different states. The ability to differentiate is at the heart of what it is to perceive.

Then you have to explain where system-ness comes from, especially if you acknowledge that it can't come from dumb information.

This is the aim of computationalism.

The ability to differentiate is at the heart of what it is to perceive, but qualia is the only thing that can be differentiated. What is being differentiated from what except afferent sensory input, and what is differentiation other than efferent motive participation?

Information does not concretely exist as an independent entity.

"X" does not concretely exist as an independent entity.

Is there any term "X", where the above sentence does not hold, in your view?

Experience exists concretely as an independent entity.

This is idealism or immaterialism.

There are forms which can be used to inform if they are intentionally treated that way, as a map, but nothing is just a map by itself. Every map is A territory (not THE territory). being used by another 'territory' as a map.

Maybe all there is are maps?

Then there would be no point in having any maps that seem like territories.

Math is full if such maps.

That's the problem. If information could do anything by itself, then any kind of 'experience' of that function would be redundant. What would be the point? Why reduce everything to information if you are only going to have to invoke some magical and superfluous puppet show for that information to know itself with?

The nature of information is to inform.

I might use a piece of paper with ink on it (a territory) as a map because the ink is printed in a pre-configured protocol which I can learn to read easily as part of the intended audience of the map, or which I can learn to read even if I wasn't intended as an audience. Logic circuits don't do that. They don't care about learning. They store the recordings of our intentions, and reproduce them in a trivial and mechanistic way.

Just like our DNA stores the recordings of evolution's intentions, and we follow those instructions in a reproducible mechanistic way (I won't say trivial because not all machines are simple, and the resulting behaviors of machines can be anything but trivial).

Evolution doesn't have any intentions, it's a backward looking analysis of heredity.

Life has a goal: to survive

The methods of DNA transcription seem mechanistic to us, because all we can see of it is through a microscope. That doesn't mean there isn't qualia and meaning being experienced on that level - not human qualia per se, but subhuman or sub+superhuman.

Cells may have their own qualia, but I don't see their connection to the brain they implement's qualia. Like the china brain, there is no connection.



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