[ExI] Mental Phenomena

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Wed Jan 1 14:14:24 UTC 2020

On Tue, Dec 31, 2019 at 5:27 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:

*> Yes, an important thing is “how many different types of labels there
> are.”*
> *But if “The ‘red’ label IS the qualia”, which physical qualia, um, I
> mean, which physical quality are we talking: glutamate or glycine?*

Fundamentally it doesn't matter what you use as a label as long as one
label is physically distinguishable from another label. Glutamate could
stand for light with a red wavelength and glycine could stand for light of
a green wavelength and then I could switch your brain around so that
now glutamate stood for light with a green wavelength and glycine stood for
light of a red wavelength and there would be no objective way I could see
any change in your behavior and, as long as the change was complete so
things remained consistent, there is no way you could even subjectively
tell that a change had been made.

A red qualia in isolation to all other visual qualia is not a qualia at all
because qualia, just like everything else that is meaningful, needs
contrast. If from birth the only signal your eyes sent to your brain was a
homogeneous field of black you'd be completely blind and it would not
change things objectively or subjectively if instead of black that field
was white or red or green or blue, Your brain would soon stop even trying
to extract meaning from that monotonous useless signal.

Areas of the brain like the visual cortex are less highly specialized than
we once thought, they can be repurposed to do other things under certain
circumstances, like being blind from birth and using the visual cortex to
analyze sound instead of sight. There is some indication that's why blind
people's hearing seems so acute, their ears are no better but they have
more processing power available that can analyze auditory signals than
sighted people have.

John K Clark
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