[ExI] Zombie glutamate

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at canonizer.com
Wed Feb 18 13:07:09 UTC 2015

Hi Stathis,

On 2/17/2015 4:38 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> On 18 February 2015 at 02:36, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at canonizer.com> wrote:
>> Hi John,
>> You keep saying:  "You can't prove if something else is conscious."  But,
>> does your left brain hemisphere not know, more than we know anything, not
>> only that your right hemisphere is it conscious, but what it is
>> qualitatively like.  And if that is possible, why are you assuming we can't
>> do the same thing the corpus callosum is doing, between brains, not just
>> between brain hemispheres?
> That's an interesting and relevant point about the left and right
> hemispheres of the brain. It does, however, illustrate that the only
> way we can really know what it is like to experience something is to
> become a part of the system that is doing the experiencing. I could
> attempt to find out what it is like to be a bat by interfacing with a
> bat's brain (and then the bat would also find out what it is like to
> be me). An objection to this, however, is that I would not be finding
> out what it is like to be a bat, but rather a bat-human hybrid, which
> may be quite different. And there is no obvious way I can see to find
> out what it is like to be a more alien system such as a thermostat,
> for example.

You must have missed the section in the paper pointing out the 
difference between compost vs elemental quale.  You are talking about 
compost qualia, here, and I completely agree with you.  But effing an 
elemental redness quale is very different.  And, once you can bridge the 
explanatory gap with elemental quale, more complex types of composite 
effing are just more complex "easy" variations on the theme.

> Well, to me it also seems that you are missing the obvious (and John 
> also, and he actually agrees with me!). The obvious is this: if you 
> try to make zombie glutamate you will fail, because if the substitute 
> glutamate has the relevant functional properties (i.e. it binds to 
> glutamate receptors and changes their conformation) then it will 
> necessarily also replicate any role natural glutamate plays in 
> consciousness. For if it were possible to make substitute glutamate 
> that performed the same as natural glutamate but did not replicate 
> natural glutamate's role in consciousness, then you could create a 
> being lacking an aspect of consciousness (likely a very big aspect, 
> since glutamate is so widespread in the brain) but behaving normally 
> and believing that they feel normal. I have repeated the last sentence 
> many times in many different ways but it doesn't seem to get through. 
> Maybe it is because you think that the functional isomorph of 
> glutamate would NOT necessarily result in normal behaviour? But then 
> it wouldn't be a functional isomorph! Maybe you think the functional 
> isomorph would result in normal behaviour but consciousness would 
> still be altered? But then there would be a decoupling between 
> consciousness and behaviour: the subject could be blind, or in 
> terrible pain, and his mouth would of its own accord smile and make 
> noises indicating that everything was fine! 

OK, thanks for pointing out that for functionalists (the target audience 
of this paper) I've not been adequately addressing this issue, either 
here, or in the paper.  (working on fixing that)

So the corollary to

     "if there is no detectable neural correlate to redness,
     someone will not be accurately experiencing redness."


     "You will not be able to accurately believe you are experiencing 
redness, without the neural correlate."

So, yes, the neural substitution will completely fail.  And if it 
succeeds, I will admit that materialist theories have been falsified.  
The prediction is that nobody will be able to find a way to present to 
the binding system anything that is not the neural correlate of redness, 
and get a true redness experience.  There are myriads of various 
possibilities, such as, in the inverted quale case, someone will believe 
they know what redness is like, when in reality they are just mistakenly 
thinking that the greenness quale is redness.  Or there is the lying 
through their teeth, example, they know that 1 isn't really redness, nor 
is the 0 really greenness.  They are just knowingly lying when they say: 
"That is red, and I know what it is qualitatively like."  And, the 
prediction is that observation systems like that being used by Gallant 
will be able to objectively detect and prove exactly when all of this 
type of stuff is going on.  So, no, without real glutamate, or without 
the detectable functional isomorph of redness is, whatever is causing 
them to accurately think they are experiencing redness, will not be 
possible without it.  Otherwise the theory, which predicts you can't 
experience redness, without the reliably detectable intrinsic functional 
isomorph of redness, with out the real thing, will be falsified, or need 
to be adjusted.

There must be something that is is a correct redness experience. When we 
are aware of redness, we are detecting this redness, and we are able to 
distinguish this from greenness.  This must be true, regardless of 
whether the relationship  is functional, material, quantum, or 
whatever.  And whatever the brain is doing to do this detection that 
redness is qualitatively different than greenness, must be objectively 
discoverable, reproducible, mappable, and ultimately effable.


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