[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Mon Jan 6 04:24:21 UTC 2020

Hi Ben,

On Sun, Jan 5, 2020 at 3:42 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:
>  >When we experience red, there are lots of other physical memories and
> things computationally bound to that elemental redness, just as you
> pointed out.
> No, I didn't. I was pointing out that 'elemental redness' literally
> doesn't mean anything, as far as I can see. You seem to think it does.
> Please explain that. Just that, without any of the other stuff. What do
> you mean by 'elemental redness'?

When you experience a redness quality, when you are dreaming or not, there
must be something, that is that redness quality you are experiencing.  My
redness could be like your greenness, either naturally, or engineered to be
that way.  You claim glutamate could function identically to glycine, but
that physical difference is the point.  If you engineered someone to be
identical to you, except that person swapped all redness/glutamate with
glycine/grenness, and visa versa, you would function identically, but
qualitatively your knowledge would be physically different.  My redness
would be like your grenness.

>  >Also, even if this physical change in your pixel of awareness was a
> single neuron switching between firing with glutamate and glycine.
> I know that the 'one neuron, one neurotransmitter' paradigm has recently
> been challenged, but as far as I know, if a glutaminergic neuron somehow
> started secreting glycine from the same synapses, then nothing would
> happen because the post-synaptic receptors wouldn't have glycine
> receptors, would they?

This is missing the point.  The idea of a single neuron firing with with
either glutamate or glycine is just an over simplified example to simplify
understand how we might bridge the explanatory gap, or find out whether
your redness is more like my grenness, or not.  Once we can bridge the
explanatory gap (eff the ineffable) with an overly simplified theory, we
can use the same qualitative effing thinking on all more capable theories.

But in any case, as I keep saying, individual neurotransmitters are
> irrelevant.

The idea that glutamate has the redness physical property is meant to be
easily falsified, via the ways you are proposing, or any other way.
Falsifiability is the point.  If this is falsified, you just try something
else in the brain, till you can't falsify it.  Then you replace glutamate
with whatever that is.  Then you know what it is that has the redness
quality you can directly experience.

> Another term I'm not sure about the meaning of, is 'pixel of awareness'.

For every pixel, on every surface you are aware of, there must be
something, physical, that is that conscious knowledge of that point, and it
must be able to change to any other color, at any time.  We're trying to
imagine the simplest possible theory for this simplest point of knowledge,
where falsifiability is the point.

> Many of the things you say don't seem to relate to neuroscience at all,
> as far as I'm aware. It would help greatly if you could ground your
> ideas in what we actually know about how the brain works, then I might
> be able to make some sense of them.

Objective observation of the brain can give you descriptions of everything
in the brain.  The problem is, you can't know, qualitatively, what any of
that is describing.
The only thing qualitative is direct awareness of the colorness properties
of something in your brain.  We some how need to make the connection
between the abstract objective and the qualitative subjective.  Again, once
you understand how it could be true, in a world simpler than our own, that
our abstract descriptions of glutamate, binding to a glutamate receptor
could be a description of what we directly experience as redness, the
connection would be made.  Again, if it isn't glutamate, you keep trying
other stuff in the brain till you find which abstract description of stuff
in the brain is the description of subjective redness.  Then you replace
whatever that turns out to be with all instances of the word glutamate I
have been using.
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