[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Feb 10 06:37:50 UTC 2020

On Mon, 10 Feb 2020 at 14:18, Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Hi Stathis,
> On Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 2:36 PM Stathis Papaioannou via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Fri, 7 Feb 2020 at 05:06, Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Stathis,
>>> This is all meaningless slight of hand, misdirecting people away from
>>> what is important.  There is no objectively observable "redness behavior"
>>> in what you are describing.  There must be some objectively observable
>>> redness behavior which cannot be substituted for anything sufficiently
>>> objectively observably different, without it changing from redness behavior.
>>> What is that objectively observable redness behavior and how could God
>>> objectively observe when it changed to grenness behavior?
>> We could observe redness behaviour (behaviour associated with red qualia)
>> by giving the subject tests, such as asking him to distinguish between red
>> objects and objects of a different colour, and by asking him to describe
>> what he sees. He will say “I see red objects”. In addition, we could
>> observe the neural correlates of this behaviour, by doing an fMRI, by
>> observing the effects of brain damage, by taking out the contribution of
>> specific receptors with drugs, and so on. We might find a drug that blocks
>> a particular receptor subtype and results in spectrum inversion, which we
>> will know because the subject says “things that were red now look green”.
>> The spectrum inversion may or may not result in changes in the ability to
>> sort or correctly identify coloured objects. If we find the neural
>> correlates, we can say that they are sufficient for the qualia but we
>> cannot say they are necessary, because they could be replaced with a
>> different system that performs the same function (ignoring qualia) and the
>> qualia must remain the same.
> I'm having a hard time seeing all this as anything more than lots of hand
> waving, with an embedded "A miracle happens here".

The account above is just of the minimal observational facts, without any
attached theory of consciousness.

With all this information, however, we could not, as observers, know with
>> certainty that the subject has qualia or that his qualia are similar to our
>> own. But this is in principle no different to other skeptical philosophical
>> positions, such as solipsism.
> One of the things I continually try to point out is that one of the
> necessary parts of consciousness is the ability to do "computational
> binding".  We have composite qualitative experiences composed of elemental
> subjective qualities like redness and greenness.  Half of our visual
> knowledge is in one hemisphere, computationally bound to the other half of
> the physical information in the other, to make one composite qualitative
> diorama that is all of our visual knowledge.  So when everyone repeatedly
> says things like: " we could not know with certainty that the subject has
> qualia or that his qualia are similar to our own."  Did you just not ready
> any of the many times I have said this?  Are you purposefully ignoring it?
> Am I not sufficiently communicating this?  Do you think I am mistaken?...
> Our left hemisphere knows absolutely, that it isn't the only conscious
> hemisphere in existence, because it is computationally bound to the other.
> If we achieved a neural ponytail
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0mAKz7eLRc&t=125s>, not only would this
> would allow us to directly experience whether someone was red/green
> inverted from us, or not, this would, in the same way our left hemisphere
> knows it isn't the only conscious hemesfer, it would falsify solipsism and
> prove the existence of other conscious minds.  (Or failure to achieve such
> could verify solipsism, right?)

When parts of a nervous system are connected, the resulting consciousness
is the consciousness of the entire system, not one part of the system
experiencing what the consciousness of another part is like. We could say
that cyborgs live among us in the form of people who have cochlear
implants. They have auditory qualia due to the human-machine system. I
don’t think it is accurate to say that this means the human thereby knows
what a cochlear implant’s auditory qualia are like, of that the human knows
that the cochlear implant has auditory qualia; or conversely, that the
implant learns anything about human qualia. If the device were implanted in
the brain of a different animal, I don’t think this would show the animal
what the auditory qualia of a human with a cochlear implant are like.

> --
Stathis Papaioannou
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