[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Sat Feb 1 16:29:13 UTC 2020

Hi Ben,

“I expect it will be a description that isn't all that easy to decipher, as
well. It will necessarily relate to a large number of processes, and will
be different (possibly wildly different) in different brains, and likely
restricted to a single point in time.”

We are talking about completely different things.  You are talking about
information abstracted away from different qualities as they change over
time and between people.  I’m talking about the quality (process) that is
changing.  I’m asking, what is the color of this process, before it
changed, and how did this process change?  There is a necessary functional
cost to achieve this substrate independence.  If P1 is the process before
the change, and P2 is the objectively observable different process after
the change, you need two different dictionaries to get the same abstract
information from the different processes before and after the change.  Colors
are just colors.  Sure, a redness processes can change from redness to
greenness, and we can have different dictionaries to get the same 'red'
information.  The dictionary before the change defines the redness process
to be red, and after the change, the dictionary defines greenness to be red.
A redness quality just is, if it changes, it is an objectively observable
and subjectively experienceable different process, there are no
dictionaries required.

On Sat, Feb 1, 2020 at 6:45 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On 01/02/2020 00:01, Brent Allsop wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 12:36 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >All experimentalists, today, only use one word for all things red.  If
>> they detect any physical differences in the brains of people percieving
>> red, they "correct" for this only thinking of all of it as red.
>> Well, I can't speak for "all experimentalists, today", but I doubt if
>> they fail to understand the difference between the red light entering the
>> eye, and the internal representation of whatever red thing is seen,
>> including the abstract mental category 'redness'. In fact, I can't see how
>> they could fail to. Are you sure you understand *them*? I don't really
>> see how anyone who studies the brain can really think of the
>> representations of sensory information as being *the same thing* as the
>> external signals that drives them. That would imply they think there is red
>> light inside the brain, everytime that brain thinks about red light. I'm
>> certain nobody seriously thinks that.
> I challenge you to find (I've been searching for some time) any peer
> reviewed journal article on perception, which uses more than one word for
> all things "red".  I haven't managed to find one, yet.
> I think this is because it's so universally understood that the processes
> in the brain are not the same thing as the stimuli that provoke them, that
> there's no real need to use different terminology. I certainly understand
> the difference between "The pink ball" and "the perception of pink".
> Granted, it might be good to be more careful with the terminology, but I
> doubt people are 'qualia-blind' as you keep saying, just because they
> aren't as careful with their terminology as you.
> >And that is the only reason, today, nobody can tell is the colour of
>> anything.
>> I don't follow that. What do you mean by "nobody can tell the colour of
>> anything"?
> When we look out at the world, we see a very colorful world.  But as we've
> been talking about, none of those colors are properties of the world out
> there.  And my redness could be like your greeness, so whos red?  Those
> colors are a property of something, maybe some kind of process as you say,
> in our brain.  But nobody can tell us which of all our descriptions of
> stuff in the brain, is a description of redness.
> So you're saying that the experience of colours in our minds is not the
> same thing as the actual colours in the outside world (obviously), and
> no-one currently can tell what's going on in the brain when someone sees a
> specific colour.
> Quite right. At least at present (although I wouldn't use the word
> 'property' for the brain processes, as that's a bit misleading). As I said
> in an earlier post, I expect that at some point, our ability to see what's
> going on in the brain will be advanced enough to tell when someone's seeing
> red (and the difference between seeing a red object, remembering a red
> object, and imagining a red object).
> As it indicates in both of the images in "Representational Qualia Theory
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Representational-Qualia/6#statement>"
> everything out side of the head is in black and white. This is because all
> objective information is abstract, devoid of any color information.
> Nonsense. Abstract information can't represent colour? All information
> processing in our brains is abstract. We experience colours. Therefore,
> abstract information can represent colours.
>   The only thing of any color, is the color of our knowledge of the world.
> Er, what?
> Knowledge doesn't have colours.
> "The colour of our knowledge of the world" literally doesn't mean anything.
> You might want to rephrase that, so it makes sense.
> Redness must be a quality of some set of physics.
> No, it mustn't.
> Redness is not a quality. I'm not even sure what "a quality of some set of
> physics" means, to be honest. I suspect it doesn't mean anything in the
> real world.
> It makes sense to say "Redness (not forgetting that 'redness' is a
> higher-level mental category than the thing we're actually talking about
> here, which is more like the experience of one specific red colour with a
> specific hue, saturation and lightness, but let's allow 'redness' to be
> shorthand for that) is a certain 'set of physics' (IOW, a certain
> phenomenon in the brain of a specific individual at a specific time), but
> we currently don't know exactly what that phenomenon is, in exact terms (or
> more accurately, what that set of phenomena are, as there is almost
> certainly a lot going on that contributes to this experience of Strawberry
> (Hue 0, Sat 67%,  etc.)).
> So your statement boils down to "Redness must be some process going on in
> a brain". Not exactly an earth-shattering statement, is it? And a lot
> easier to understand than the original version.
> Of all our objective descriptions of stuff in the brain, one of those is a
> description of redness.
> Well, not yet, but potentially, one day.
> I expect it will be a description that isn't all that easy to decipher, as
> well. It will necessarity relate to a large number of processes, and will
> be different (possibly wildly different) in different brains, and likely
> restricted to a single point in time.
> I can experience redness, but there is no such 'thing' as redness.
> I would disagree with this. There must be something physical (even if some
> kind of process) which is what we directly experience as a single pixel of
> redness.  And all of our pixels of colorness must be able to be
> computationally bound together into a composite qualitative experience of a
> strawberry, and such.  Certainly you would agree that you could objectively
> observe, and fully describe, whatever this "process" is, and be able to
> objectively describe a change to this process, which we experienced as
> redness?
> In other words, redness is an experience, a process, not a thing in its
>> own right, independent of the brain that creates it.
> This sounds like the popular consensus, that redness "arises" from some
> process.
> Not quite.
> I'd say that, rather than it arising from a process (or a complex set of
> processes), it IS a process (or complex ...).
>   The problem is, I bet you can't give any actual objective falsifiable
> description of what kind of process would have a redness qulia
> Of course not.
> As I said, not yet. We simply don't know enough yet, about how all the
> millions of neural circuits in the brain interact, how they relate to our
> sensory inputs and memories and inherited default neural patterns, and
> characteristics of synapses, and at least a dozen other things, that
> constitute the experience of a quale.
> I think this is where we differ most. You think that 'redness' is a thing
>> that has an existence independent of a mind. Am I right?
> Objective descriptions of stuff in the brain provide no information about
> the color they are describing.
> That doesn't answer my question.
> Sufficiently detailed descriptions of the stuff going on in the brain,
> coupled with enough knowledge of how to interpret them, would absolutely
> provide all the information needed about things like colours being
> perceived. We are just a long way from being able to extract the
> descriptions and interpret them properly.
>   Al I"m saying is one of those descriptions, even if it is some kind of
> process, that is what we directly experience as redness.
> What I'm saying is that it's the process itself that IS our experience of
> 'redness' or whatever. There is no distinction between observer and
> observed, there is just the process.
> What is often overlooked, I think, is that this 'process' is enormously
> complex, and involves many interlinked patterns of information. John Clark
> is fond of saying that examples are more important than rules, and I think
> this is exactly the case here. Examples of strawberry-red things, for
> instance, and all the associated memories and meanings for the individual,
> and mental categories distilled from them and linked to them.
> What about a child seeing a strawberry for the first time? No memories, no
> names, no associations from the past.
> Well, actually that's not true. There will be associations to something in
> their past (a familiar context, what they are wearing, the weather, all
> sorts of things), and they are constantly forming new ones.
> Maybe a new-born baby presented with a strawberry will have a 'pure',
> 'elemental' strawberry quale? A quale that will forever be embedded in the
> much more complex experiences they have later on? Maybe we can then pin it
> down?
> I doubt it. I think the reason we don't remember our very early childhood
> is because there is very little for us *to* remember. We haven't yet
> built up all the complex associations and memories of sensory input to form
> coherent experiences of what's going on around us. There is no meaning yet.
> It takes a few years for that to develop. There's a good reason why babies
> do little else but waggle their limbs randomly and make strange noises.
> When an adult sees a strawberry, I'm confident that the patterns in their
> brain are totally different to the ones present when they saw a strawberry
> for the very first time. There will be very little, if anything, in common.
> So where is the 'elemental quale' of strawberry-red? It doesn't exist.
> If you could provide a description of a kind of process, from which a
> redness quality would arize, I'd be happy to substitute that for
> 'glutamate' as an easily falsifiable candidate for what we directly
> experience as redness.
> Again, wrong phraseology, but I can provide a very generalised description
> of the kinds of process which are the experience of 'redness'. (As I
> already have, several times):
> Complex, dynamically interacting information patterns in the neuronal
> networks of the brain. I can't give you any more than that, because we
> don't know the details yet.
> Not as compact and catchy as 'glutamate', I know, but a lot more realistic.
> Is this falsifiable? of course, in principle, once we have enough
> technology and understanding (as previously discussed on this list).
> Is it *easily* falsifiable? No, far from it. We need a lot more knowledge
> and technology. Probably upload-level technology, I suspect. Once we have
> that, though, I'd expect individuals to be able to investigate these things
> for themselves. Having direct access to our own thought processes will
> spark off a massive wave of new ideas and technology, I reckon. And a much
> deeper understanding of what we are and how we work.
> --
> Ben Zaiboc
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