[ExI] putting the qual into qualia

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Wed May 8 15:05:02 UTC 2013

On 07/05/2013 22:49, Gordon wrote:
> Social pain is a quale, though we don't normally consider it when discussing qualia. I should probably take a Tylenol each time someone on ExI gives me grief.
> ----
> Acetaminophen Reduces Social Pain

It also seems to reduce existential and surreal anguish.
(One of the more amusing uses of David Lynch movies in science)

The nice thing about this is that it actually helps us track down the 
NCC - watching surreal movies doesn't (I assume) activate somatosensory 
cortex, but probably (guessing here, based on past neuroscience, but I 
would be surprised if it didn't happen) activates parts of the anterior 
cingulate cortex. Neuroimaging can only give us so much, so we still 
have to figure out the finer structure, but it seems that the ACC is 
among the key parts of the neural substrate of suffering itself, 
regardless of whether the cause is pain, social exclusion or existential 
dread. And we know people with certain ACC damage experience pain 
(presumably the quale of pain sensation) but do not suffer (no quale of 
suffering) - they report they have the pain but it does not bother them. 
It would be interesting to see if this is true for other sources of 

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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