[ExI] Zombie glutamate

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at canonizer.com
Wed Feb 18 18:16:36 UTC 2015

Hi Stathis,

It feels to me that the entire paper has come together, in a very
compelling way, except for the section at the end where I attempt to
address the neural substitution argument.  I have a real hard time getting
my head arround the way a functionalist thinks.  I know a bunch of the
stuff I end up saying is completely useless, and I know I can say the right
thing, but I just don't know how to put it in a way that will be
understood, as best as possible, to a functionalist.

The current section on the neural substitution argument at the end is just
a loose collection of ideas I'm tyring to put together.  I wonder if you
could provide some feedback on if any of that is good, or a complete waste,
and so on.

And can I get you, or anyone, to state the issue you have, in general, with
the idea of the paper.



Brent Allsop

On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 3:31 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>

> On 18 February 2015 at 13:44, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Tue, Feb 17, 2015  Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >>  > my contention is that if the glutamate substitute can mimic all the
> >> properties of glutamate relevant to brain function, then it will
> necessarily
> >> also contribute to consciousness in whatever way natural glutamate does.
> >
> >
> > I'm just playing devil's advocate here but it could be argued that there
> is
> > one brain function that you have absolutely no way of knowing if the
> > substitute glutamate has successfully mimicked or not, the consciousness
> > function. It could be argued that the substitute glutamate works great on
> > everything you can test in the lab, everything you can count or measure,
> but
> > the substitute doesn't work for conscious, which therefor must have been
> > created by something other than Evolution.
> >
> > Please note that I think the above idea is very silly, but I can't prove
> it
> > wrong and never will be able to. And that is the very definition of a
> silly
> > theory. Perhaps I'm just taking the word "proof" a little too seriously,
> I'm
> > think of a mathematician nitpicking over every line, but if you mean
> > evidence so overwhelming that it is correct life is too short to worry
> about
> > it being wrong then I agree with you.
> If that idea is true it leads to worse than just silliness; it invalidates
> the idea of consciousness.
> Functions in the brain are, to an extent, localised. The visual cortex is
> where perception occurs, Broca's and Wernicke's areas are where speech
> understanding and production are controlled. We know this because if a part
> of the brain is damaged it results in specific deficits in function, while
> other functions are left unaffected. So if the visual cortex is taken out
> the subject can't see, although he can speak normally, and he says, "I
> can't see". This is because there are neural connections between the speech
> and visual centres in the brain. The eyes register an image, signals travel
> to the visual cortex, neural processing occurs there, and output is sent
> from the visual cortex to other parts of the brain, including the speech
> centres, where more processing occurs. The speech centres then send output
> to motor neurones controlling the vocal cords and speech is produced.
> Now, what happens if you replace the visual cortex with a perfect
> functional analogue which, however, lacks the special "function" of
> consciousness? The scientists and engineers designing this device will
> They may leave out the functions that can't be tested for, of which
> consciousness may be one, but they will do a good job with all the others.
> The artificial device will have the same connections to the surrounding
> brain tissue as the original visual cortex did, and it will accept input,
> process it, and send output to other parts of the brain just as the
> original visual cortex did. If there is some other way the different parts
> of the brain communicate with each other that we don't know about, the
> super competent designers will discover it and find a way to reproduce it.
> Now I hope you can see that if EVERY FUNCTION THAT CAN POSSIBLY BE
> SCIENTIFICALLY TESTED FOR is incorporated into the artificial visual cortex
> then it will receive and process input and send output to the rest of the
> brain in the same way as the original visual cortex; for if not, that would
> FOR, rather than a difference in one of the functions that can't be tested
> for, like consciousness. And if the output coming from the artificial
> visual cortex is completely normal, the subject will behave completely
> normally; signals will go from the retina via multiple neural and
> artificial relays to the vocal cords and the subject will declare that he
> can see perfectly normally. However, what would happen if there is a
> function that can't be scientifically tested for, responsible for visual
> perception (i.e. consciousness) in the cortex? That function would be left
> out and the subject would be blind; but because the artificial visual
> cortex is sending all the right signals to his speech centres, and every
> other part of his brain, he doesn't realise he is blind and he still
> declares that he can see normally.
> So do you see the problem with this? If consciousness is not a necessary
> side-effect of observable processes, it would be possible to remove a major
> aspect of a person's consciousness, such as visual perception, but they
> would behave normally and they would not notice that anything had changed.
> Which would mean that you could have gone blind an hour ago but haven't
> realised it. In which case, what is the difference between being blind and
> not being blind? And, extending the argument by gradually extending the
> extent of the brain replacement, what is the difference between conscious
> and not being conscious?
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
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