Hi Craig Weinberg  

Since there are so many pseudo pain centers (qualia) this suggests that  
reduction of perceived pain to its pseudo-origins in the brain is 
esssentially impossible.  This means also that pragmatic logic 
is in order, so that the meaning of the multiple qualia is in the single, 
unified qualia  
we "feel".

Roger Clough, rclo...@verizon.net 
"Forever is a long time, especially near the end." -Woody Allen 

----- Receiving the following content -----  
From: Craig Weinberg  
Receiver: everything-list  
Time: 2012-09-18, 16:06:41 
Subject: Re: Bruno's Restaurant 

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:33:50 PM UTC-4, Jason wrote: 

On Sep 18, 2012, at 10:38 AM, Craig Weinberg  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, ?h, 
yes, its still there.  I just don't worry about it anymore.?  With a smile she 
continued, ?n 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 ? huge mistake-that attempt to reify 'feeling' 
as an independent entity, with an essence that's indescribable.  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 represent and summarize those changes.  The big mistake 
comes from looking for some single, simple, 'essence' of hurting, rather than 
recognizing 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 

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

What is reducible other than the quality of being able to explain it as 
something else? Hurting is not really hurting, it's totally non-hurting 
mechanisms interacting unconsciously. 

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.  

Not in my view. Information is one category of experiences that one can be 
conscious of. Whether I listen to an mp3 file as a song, or look at it as a 
graphic animation, it is the same information that I am aware of, yet the 
experience that I am conscious of is not merely different, but unrecognizable. 
I could not tell the difference between Mozart and Nicki Minaj by looking at a 
visualization with no sound. 

Once you commit to this possibility, the rest falls into place. There is no 
such thing as information. There are strategies of informing each other by 
superimposing one territory over another (like ink stains on bleached wood 
pulp) and reading them as a map. 

 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.  

Experiences can inform us, but only if the capacity to have and compare 
experiences already exists. We need memory and the ability to pay attention, to 
care about what we pay attention to. Information is not primitive, it is a 
second order appeal to interaction of sense-making nodes. No amount of 
information can make sense by itself. All of the libraries in the world would 
not be able to write a single word on their own. 

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. 

Not true. Blindsight proves this. Common experience with computers and machines 
suggests this. If I had no qualia at all, I wouldn't exist, but in theory, if 
there were no such thing as qualia, a universe of information processing would 
continue humming along nicely forever. 

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.  

It doesn't matter. it still absolutely disproves the idea that the experience 
of qualia by any given state of awareness is necessary for accessing 
information that is functionally useful to that subject or state. 

 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. 

I understand, but people with blindsight don't have a problem with their speech 
centers. Why fight it? Why not try looking at the evidence for what it actually 
says? Information doesn't need experience. Even if it did, how would it conjure 
such a thing out of thin air, and why doesn't it do that when we are looking? 
Why does information never appear as a disembodied entity, say haunting the 
internet or appearing spontaneously in a cartoon? 

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?  

The only reason to imagine that they would have a quale is because we take our 
own word for the fact that there is a such thing as experience. Otherwise there 
is no reason to bring qualia into it at all. 

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. 

But what in this metaphor is receiving the totality of the interaction? 

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. 

I don't think that it is. I can make a pattern of a cell out of charcoal or 
chalk and there will be no living organism that comes out of it. The 
possibility of living organisms has to be inherent in the universe to begin 

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. 

If that were the case, we should see dead bodies spontaneously 
self-resurrecting from time to time, Boltzmann brains cropping up in the 
clouds, etc. 


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 

I agree. 

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

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. 

How? Because one qualia is different from another? 


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 

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

But there is no theoretical justification for conflating them. We know that we 
have experience to we just tack experience on to a theory about the universal 
computability of function and structure that we want to be true. 

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 

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. 

The principle is the same though. The level of complexity doesn't change 

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. 

It doesn't need to. As long as we can digitally categorize pixel regions, there 
is no need for 'faces' or 'objects'. 


 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. 

Not an accident, no. Sense is self-translucent. That's how I know that you 
aren't a zombie and how I know that I don't need to know that you aren't a 
zombie, and how I know that if I wanted to I could make a plausible case for 
how I know you aren't a zombie. This is the thing that computers can't do. We 
don't need to have everything explicitly defined and spelled out - we have 
broadly elliptical sensemaking capacities which are rooted in the fabric of the 
cosmos directly. 


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 

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. 

We must suck then, since mosquitoes can see and reproduce and fly with a brain 
the size of this period.  

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 

It's different in that I see idealism and materialism as dual aspects of a 
neutral monism which is ordinary 'sense'. Matter is a spatial public exterior, 
experience is a temporal private interior. They are the same thing but 'rotated 
90 degrees'. Sense is what does the rotating and the discerning of its own 
rotations and levels of meta-juxtaposition. 


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 

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 

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

I think we can understand some aspects neuroscientifically. Studies on 
identical and conjoined twins show subtle and unexpected similarities, but also 
unexpected differences. Besides that though, there are lots of historical 
intuition, in alchemy, art, divination systems, etc which might translate into 
modern terms to some extent. The answers are already there, we just have to ask 
the right questions in the right way. 

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. 

And it's a good aim, one which I can relate to. The problem I think is that 
ultimately comp can't find its body. Until that happens, we should probably 
consider that it is experience which generates computation and not the other 
way around. 

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. 

Not if experience looks like matter from the outside. 


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. 

Which is why I think its more of a sophisticated understanding among human 
minds than a universal fundamental. 

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 

The nature of information is to inform. 

There are a lot of books sitting around that aren't going to inform anything 
unless someone reads them. 


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 

Life has a goal: to survive 

Then things which have never been alive in the first place are doing a lot 
better at achieving that goal.  

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 

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. 

There isn't any difference between the qualia of the brain as a whole and the 
qualia of all of the neurons. They seem different on the matter-in-space side, 
but qualia is the opposite of that. It's like a story. Batman is Batman whether 
he is in a comic or a movie - but he's also not the same. It's subjective. 




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