[ExI] Possible seat of consciousness found

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Tue Feb 25 21:17:12 UTC 2020

Quoting Brent Allsop:

> The only
> thing everyone disagrees about is the nature of qualia.  Communicating the
> high level RQT ideas about what 'qualia blindness' is, and how there is not
> a "hard mind body problem", it's just a color problem is already very
> difficult to communicate.

"Qualia blindness" sounds too perjorative to be useful as a term of  
art. You should stop using it especially since you tend to apply it to  
people who disagree with you and you have so much trouble explaining  
what it means. Perhaps "qualia denial" or "qualia denier" would be a  
better and more accurate term, since even Daniel Dennett experiences  
qualia, even though he doesn't believe them to be important.

Reframing the "the hard mind-body problem" as the "color problem" does  
not help in the slightest because the "color problem" has remained  
unsolved for over 300 years and was first voiced by Isaac Newton in  
the 17th century:

"The rays [of light], to speak properly, are not coloured. In them  
there is nothing else than a certain power to stir up a sensation of  
this or that colour . . . to determine by what modes or actions light  
produceth in our minds the phantasm of colour is not so easie."

In fact, Chalmers explicitly reframed Newton's "color problem" as the  
hard problem so all you have done is undo Chalmers' contribution to  
the field.

> It requires some major surgery to people's naive
> epistemology of color.  So we simplify everything as much as possible.
> (only talk about red and green - no other colors or more subtle qualia).
> Glutamate being redness is only in the small low level minority camp  
> "Molecular
> Materialism <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Molecular-Materialism/36>".

If you incorporate counterfactual or untested assumptions into a  
thought experiment for the sake of simplification, you should lead  
with a disclaimer of some sort.

> This camp is the simplest and most importantly, easy to falsify.  If
> someone experiences redness, with no glutamate, redness = glutamate
> prediction falsified.  The ease of falsifiability is what is important.
> For example, I see no possible way to falsify most of the other theories,
> especially the leading consensus camp which Stathis supports: "Functionalism
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Qualia-Emerge-from-Function/18>".  If they
> could provide any easily falsifiable example of what redness could be, I'd
> be happy to use that in place of glutamate, but they never provide anything
> even close to that.

All these camps seem like little more than philosophical  
hair-splitting to me. What distinguishes functionalism from RQT except  
for the assumed material basis for qualia? Matter is but one small  
part of physics. Space, time, and connectivity are also physical  
properties. If a functionalist says that a signalling pathway A leads  
to the redness quale and signalling pathway B leads to greenness  
quale, how is that any less physical or falsifiable than glutamate?

Put a SQUID helmet on a monkey, hook him up to an fMRI machine, and  
shine red light in his eyes. Then note what spatial coordinate of his  
brain lights up. Next shine green light into its eyes and note what  
portion of his brain lights up. If the exact same pixels light up on  
the fMRI image in both instances, then signalling pathway  
functionalism is falsified. If different brain locations light up,  
then you will have pathway-based functional correlates of red and  
green qualia specific to that individual monkey.

> It's all just sloppy hand waving with the small
> required "a miracle happens here" step they always ignore.    Of course, it
> is my conjecture that if they did provide something that could be redness,
> it couldn't be that for the same reason it can't be glutamate, proving the
> absurdity of their substitution argument.

If you are referring to the integration/binding issue here, then I  
don't see how attributing redness to a molecule somehow makes it any  
less miraculous because then one must then ask how glutamate is aware  
of its own redness quality and is able to communicate it to the  
conscious mind.

> Incidentally, I think you might have been too reductionist in your
>> search for the material correlates of color. Material redness is not a
>> molecule, material redness is the L-cone cell in your retina that
>> fires more strongly in response to red light than green light. M-cone
>> cells conversely fire more strongly in response to green light than
>> red.
> Um, yea.  What you say below (as illustrated in this "Perception Inverted
> <https://canonizer.com/videos/consciousness/?chapter=Perception_Inverted>"
> section of the video) proves what you say above is mistaken, right?

Not at all. Inverted perception in no way proves that qualia are not  
"phantasms of the mind" to use Newton's terminology. In fact, the  
rewiring I described between the retina and the visual cortex is  
specifically in reference to the signalling pathway model.

> You
> can have redness, in a brain, in a vat, with no light, and no retina.  so
> we're not talking about the retina.  Redness is the final result of
> perception, far downstream from even the optic nerve, let alone anything in
> the retina.  You just need to stimulate the optic nerve the same as the
> retina would and due to this input, the brain creates knowledge or a
> construct made out of something that has a redness quality we can
> directly/subjectively experience.

Of course you can activate the qualia circuitry of a brain in a vat.  
So what? The experience of activating neural circuit A is  
qualitatively different than activating neural circuit B. Just like  
taking the scenic route to the beach is a qualitatively different  
experience than taking the freeway to the supermarket. Pathway  
differences afforded all the alternate neural connections and weights  
contain sufficient information to distinguish between an astronomical  
number of distinct qualia. Far more than all 20 amino acids and every  
other kind of molecule present in the brain.

Stuart LaForge

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