[ExI] Frank Jackson's brilliant color scientist Mary

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Mon Dec 23 13:38:19 UTC 2019

On Sun, Dec 22, 2019 at 5:36 PM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

*> The word red isn’t physically red.*

True, but a ripe tomato is objectively red in terms of the wavelength of
light it produces and subjectively red in terms of the qualia it engenders.
So when you point to a tomato and say "red" a child learns what a new word
means. That's how people learn language, not through dictionaries and
definitions but through examples.

*> In order to know what red means, you need to point to something physical
> (or in Stathis’ case, maybe point to something functional or magic) and say
> THAT is red.  Because physicists and neuroscientists never do this, they
> are qualia blind.  *

Except for their own qualia EVERYBODY is qualia blind even poets, the
handicap is not limited to physicists and neuroscientists. And that will
never change.

> *> Once experimentalists stop being qualia blind* [...]

Good luck waiting for that to happen!

> * > They will be able to finally tell us which of all their descriptions
> of physics is the description of redness. *

I don't understand what even in principle would satisfy you. If scientists
found a chemical you'd correctly say that chemical is not the red qualia,
and if they found a complex chemical process you'd correctly say that
complex chemical process is not the red qualia, and if they found a
particular pattern of neuron firings you'd correctly say that particular
pattern of neuron firings is not the red qualia. Even if they somehow
proved with absolute certainty that X causes the red qualia and only X can
cause the red qualia you'd say I'm still not satisfied, X may bring about a
qualia but X itself is not a qualia, X is something objective and physical
but I want to understand the connection between the objective and the

So just give me the general outline of the sort of thing that would make
you say "yep you've got it, that's all I need to know".

John K Clark
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