[ExI] Qualia/Consciousness re:subjective and objective

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at comcast.net
Wed Dec 19 02:17:30 UTC 2007

citta437 at aol.com wrote:
> "Narrower definitions
> Daniel Dennett identifies four properties that are commonly ascribed to 
> qualia. According to these, qualia are:
> ineffable; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any 
> other means than direct experience.
> intrinsic; that is, they are non-relational properties, which do not 
> change depending on the experience's relation to other things.
> private; that is, all interpersonal comparisons of qualia are 
> systematically impossible.
ineffable, intrinsic, private.  Those 3 sound accurate to me.

> directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness; that is, to 
> experience a quale is to know one experiences a quale, and to know all 
> there is to know about that quale.
Is this the 4th?  - to directly experience a quale in consciousness is 
to know all there is to know about that quale?

That, also, sounds right to me.  As in once the properly enhanced 
formerly merely abstract knowledge AI is turned on, it may finally say 
something like: "oh THAT is what salt tastes like." right?  Thereby the 
ineffable will have been effed, enabling all its formerly merely 
abstracted representations of such to finally be grounded and truly 
phenomenally known.

> If qualia of this sort exist, then a normally-sighted person who sees 
> red would be unable to describe the experience of this perception in 
> such a way that a listener who has never experienced color will be able 
> to know everything there is to know about that experience. Though it is 
> possible to make an analogy, such as "red looks hot", or to provide a 
> description of the conditions under which the experience occurs, such 
> as "it's the color you see when light of 700 nm wavelength is directed 
> at you," supporters of this kind of qualia contend that such a 
> description is incapable of providing a complete description of the 
> experience.
I am a supporter, and I do precisely this.

> Another way of defining qualia is as "raw feels". A raw feel is a 
> perception in and of itself, considered entirely in isolation from any 
> effect it might have on behavior and behavioral disposition. In 
> contrast, a "cooked feel" is that perception seen as existing in terms 
> of its effects.
That is a bit imprecise and confusing way of getting close to the idea 
that there are behavioral properties of matter, and in addition, also 
ineffable properties that exist in our consciousness.

> According to an argument put forth by Saul Kripke in "Identity and 
> Necessity" (1971), one key consequence of the claim that such things as 
> raw feels can be meaningfully discussed — that qualia exist — is that 
> it leads to the logical possibility of two entities exhibiting 
> identical behavior in all ways despite one of them entirely lacking 
> qualia.
I believe this is possible.  Except when you ask the zombie what is red 
like for it, if it's behavior is to be the same, it must lie about the 
true nature of it's knowledge, perhaps using some abstracted lookup 
table, rather than appealing to true phenomenal awareness or experience.

> While very few ever claim that such an entity, called a 
> philosophical zombie, actually exists, the mere possibility is claimed 
> to be sufficient to refute physicalism. Those who dispute the existence 
> of qualia would therefore necessarily dispute the existence of 
> philosophical zombies.
Count me as one of these very few that claim that such an entity is 
possible, but highly inefficient, since it always requires much more to 
lie, than it does to simply phenomenally know.

> There is an ancient Sufi parable about coffee that nicely expresses the 
> concept: "He who tastes, knows; he who tastes not, knows not."
> John Searle has rejected the notion that the problem of qualia is 
> different from the problem of consciousness itself, arguing that 
> consciousness and qualia are one and the same phenomenon."
I agree with Searl on this, and like John Clark's comment, think his 
"Chinese Room" idea is completely idiotic and completely obfuscates and 
distracts us from the simple idea of the difference between phenomenal 
properties vs cause and effect behavioral properties, and their abstract 
representations.  This also making me somewhat embarased to say I agree 
with Searl.

> ____________________
> How can a robot function with consciousness or a sense of qualia? To 
> send a robot to Mars is already feasible. What is missing is an 
> apparatus which discern subjective from objective facts. Memory is a 
> property of a computer-like brain and human brain value the past as if 
> it is the present fact. There exist a gap between synaptic connections 
> where neuron's reactions show a time lapse of some mm/second. See the 
> function of the amygdala and hippocampus that's genetically involved in 
> emotions and feellngs. These two regions of the brain has direct 
> connection outside while the neo-cortex, center for memory and speech 
> do not have direct connection outside. Their main functon is to 
> interpret what is seen or felt according to what is stored in the 
> memory center. Consciousness/qualia is subject to these quantum 
> interactions between neurons so much so that stimulati received from 
> the amygdala and hippocampus which secretes hormones and neuro-amines 
> to kick up the response mechanism of fear or fight and flight reactions 
> subject to the memory/image interpreted by the neo-cortex.  When the subjective and objective processes meet depends on a lot of random processes in the micro and macro world of interacting forces of energy.
When you bring up all this, especially stuff like random quantum 
interactions, as Chalmers points out, all such is merely dealing with 
the easy problem of consciousness, or how particular behavior occurs.  
And as Chalmers also points out, all this has nothing to do with any 
phenomenal properties such matter behaving in such a way may or may not 
have.  Though understanding all such is important, this is just 
detracting when it comes to the simple idea of the difference between a 
behavioral property (whether quantum or classical) and a phenomenal 

Brent Allsop

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