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

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 03:10:43 UTC 2015

On 2 February 2015 at 23:40, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at canonizer.com> wrote:
> 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.

But in general it is impossible to devise an experiment that will test
the hypothesis that something has qualia.

>> 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.

I do not claim that it is impossible to be bind different qualia
simultaneously. What I am claiming is that if you replace a part of
the brain with another part that functions identically, in the sense
of reproducing its I/O behaviour, then all of the behaviour and all of
the experiences will be unchanged. Therefore qualia cannot be due to
particular matter, they must be due to the functional organisation of
the brain. You seem to be agreeing with this because you say that if
we replace a part of the brain and then test the subject by asking him
about his qualia, and find no difference, then that is evidence that
the replacement part has similar qualia to the original part. Have I
got it right or do you disagree with this?

>> 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.

A functionalist would say that if you knock out the glutamate and the
red qualia disappear then the glutamate was necessary (though perhaps
not sufficient) to produce red qualia; and replace the glutamate with
a functional equivalent and the red qualia will be preserved.

> 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 quality.

I must be missing something because it seems straightforward to me:
knock out a part of the system you suspect is involved in a certain
type of experience and that experience should be affected.

Stathis Papaioannou

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