[ExI] Fwd: Paper on "Detecting Qualia" presentation at 2015 MTA conference

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at canonizer.com
Mon Feb 2 12:40:33 UTC 2015

Hi Stathis,

On 2/1/2015 10:36 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> It could be that CMOS sensors have qualia but you can't access them by 
> interfacing with the brain, since the two systems are radically 
> different. Conversely, if you stick a CMOS in your brain and 
> experience different qualia that could just be due to the disruption 
> of normal brain activity, and not evidence that the CMOS in a digital 
> camera has qualia. 

I completely agree, yes.  But you are missing the more important point 
which is, if this theory can be falsified, as you are doing, you simply 
need to come up with a variation on the theory, till you get one the 
experimental science effingly proves is the one.  It has a large part to 
do with both what has the quality, and how these qualities interact with 
the binding mechanism.  It could be that only neurons and, and 
neurotransmitters can have and bind together qualitative properties.  
And that we will never find a way to integrate stuff like CMOS, 
qualitatively, directly, as you predict. But, again, what matters, is 
the general framework where you can determine what does, and what does 
not have qualia, and it is not different than the rest of science, as 
long as you include this qualitative information that is intrinsic, and 
not just zombie information being interpreted as if it was the real thing.

> You seem to forget that, whatever neurons or neuronal components might
> experience, they can only communicate with downstream neurons by the
> timing of their synaptic firing. If the timing of synaptic firing is
> unchanged, the downstream motor neurons' firings will be unchanged and
> the behaviour of the organism will be unchanged. And if the functional
> replacement for glutamate (or whatever other component) does not alter
> the sequence and firing of the neuron - which must be the case if it
> is "functionally equivalent" - then the behaviour of the organism will
> be unchanged.  So the "that is real redness behaviour" will happen
> provided only that the replacement part is functionally equivalent.

But you are leaving out the binding system.  The only way what you are 
claiming could be true is if there is no theoretically possible way to 
do what you are assuming can't be done.  But there are many theoretical 
possibilities which could bind, effingly, multiple qualities, so you are 
aware of redness and greenness, at the same time, and that you can know 
the difference because of this qualitative binding.  The neural  wave 
theories that Steven Lehar talks about are just one example of many 
possible theories that can bind together waves, over areas of time and 
space, which falsifies what you are claiming, that you cannot bind 
together things like this, to be aware of both of them, qualitatively, 
at the same time.

> It is the function of the part, not the matter it is made out of, that
> determines this. If you agree that, given identical function, then the
> qualia must also be identical, then you are a functionalist.

Again, I completely agree with this.  But the higher level testability, 
qualitatively, still applies.  When you are aware of redness, there must 
be something, that is detectably causing you to be aware of this.  And 
there must be something that is detectably different than this, which is 
reliably responsible for us being aware of greenness.

Since no functionalist, ever gives any possible way to reliably detect 
this difference, even if it is an obviously falsifiable difference, it 
makes it hard to use functionalist theories to talk about the more 
important part of how to falsifiably detect what is, and is not 
responsible for redness.  All you need to do is replace glutamate, with 
whatever you could possibly predict is detectably responsible for redness.

I've tried to find any possible way to detect, functionally, what is 
responsible for redness, and how this could be different than some 
functionalist greenness, but I can't, without it being circular, and not 
defined anywhere.  If you can provide any way to test for this, I will 
be glad to include the predictions you provide, along with the different 
predictions being included with materialist theories, so we can both 
leave it to scientific demonstration to prove, which is right.  But till 
you can provide how to test for what you are claiming, there isn't much 
I can do.  Seems to me you must admit that if a materialist theory, 
works, and you can use waves, or anything else to bind them together, as 
you predict can't be done, you must admit that functionality would be 
scientifically proven wrong.

And the same is true for detectable functionalism.  But, we must first 
find, either theoretically or experimentally, some reasonable testable 
theory which is detectably responsible for us experiencing a redness 


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