Here is an example to help illustrate what I think is the relationship
between information and qualia that makes the most sense.
Here I am using the delta (Δ) to denote "difference", n to mean "numbers"
or information, kappa for aesthetic "kind" or qualia, and delta n degree
(Δn°) for "difference in degree".
The formula on top means "The difference between numbers and aesthetic
qualities is not a difference in degree. This means that there is no known
method by which a functional output of a computation can acquire an
aesthetic quality, such as a color, flavor, or feeling.
Reversing the order in the bottom formula, I am asserting that the
difference between qualia and numbers actually is only a difference in
degree, not a difference in kind. *That means that we can make numbers out
of qualia, by counting them, but numbers can't make qualia no matter what
we do with them*. This is to say also that subjects can reduce each other
to objects, but objects cannot become subjects.
Let's use playing cards as an example.
Each card has a quantitative value, A-K. The four suits, their colors and
shapes, the portraits on the royal cards...none of them add anything at all
to the functionality of the game. Every card game ever conceived can be
played just as well with only four sets of 13 number values.
The view which is generally offered by scientific or mathematical accounts,
would be that the nature of hearts, clubs, diamonds, kings, etc can differ
only in degree from the numbers, and not in kind. Our thinking about the
nature of consciousness puts the brain ahead of subjective experience, so
that all feelings and qualities of experience are presumed to be
representations of more complicated microphysical functions. This is
mind-brain identity theory. The mind is the functioning of the brain, so
that the pictures and colors on the cards would, by extension, be
representations of the purely logical values.
To me, that's obviously bending over backward to accommodate a prejudice
toward the quantitative. The functionalist view prefers to preserve the gap
between numbers and suits and fill it with faith, rather than consider the
alternative that now seems obvious to me: You can turn the suit qualities
into numbers easily - just enumerate them. The four suits can be reduced to
00,01,10, and 11. A King can be #0D, an Ace can be 01, etc. There is no
problem with this, and indeed it is the natural way that all counting has
developed: The minimalist characterization of things which are actually
The functionalist view requires the opposite transformation, that the
existence of hearts and clubs, red and black, is only possible through a
hypothetical brute emergence by which computations suddenly appear heart
shaped or wearing a crown, because... well because of complexity, or because
we can't prove that it isn't happening. The logical fallacy being invoked
is Affirming the Consequent:
If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then he is rich.
Bill Gates is rich.
Therefore, Bill Gates owns Fort Knox.
If the brain is physical, then it can be reduced to a computation.
We are associated with the activity of a brain.
Therefore, we can be reduced to a computation.
To correct this, we should invert our assumption, and look to a model of
the universe in which differences in kind can be quantified, but
differences in degree cannot be qualified. Qualia reduce to quanta (by
degree), but quanta does not enrich to qualia (at all).
To take this to the limit, I would add the players of the card game to the
pictures, suits, and colors of the cards, as well as their intention and
enthusiasm for winning the game. The qualia of the cards is more "like
them" and helps bridge the gap to the quanta of the cards, which is more
like the cards themselves - digital units in a spatio-temporal mosaic.
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