[ExI] Mental Phenomena

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Mon Jan 6 13:33:21 UTC 2020

On Sun, Jan 5, 2020 at 11:27 PM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> *> When you experience a redness quality, when you are dreaming or not,
> there must be something, that is that redness quality you are
> experiencing.  *

But that redness qualia could not exist in isolation, it needs contrast to
have a meaning and only other color qualia can provide that. So the
important thing determining what you subjective experience will be is how
many distinguishable labels (aka color qualia) you can stick on wavelengths
of light not the particulars of what chemicals the labels are made of.

> > *My redness could be like your greenness,*

We already know some things about that, we know that my redness can't be
identical to your redness because we have a different brain structure, and
we both know that whatever qualia the other uses to label electromagnetic
waves with a frequency of 400 terahertz it's consistent, I put the same
label on both strawberries and ripe tomatoes and you do the same. But is my
redness closer to your redness or your greenness?  Suppose we merged our
brains Avatar like as you suggest, the resulting creature, Brent Clark,
 would have to be consistent in its use of qualia just as we are and that
includes the memories that both of us have. For the sake of argument let's
suppose our red and green qualia really are reversed, if so what would
Brent Clark experience when he looked at a ripe tomato?

There is no unique answer to that, any consistent labeling system would do;
perhaps he would see a tomato as my red (your green) or perhaps as your red
(my green) or maybe he would see a combination of both and see a tomato as
being what we both think of as yellow. Brent Clark would know the answer,
he would know what it's like for Brent Clark to look at a tomato, but
that's all he'd know. And neither Brent Allsop or John Clark would have
learned anything about how the other views the world.

> > *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.*

I don't see how the knowledge could be different if there is no way you
could even KNOW that such a change had happened, and there wouldn't be as
long as the change was made consistently. There would be a objective
difference in brain structure but that change would produce no change in
objective behavior, and there would be no change in subjective experience
at all.

> *> 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. *

I don't think that is over simplified. In fact I think if you're topic is
qualia then worrying about the detailed chemistry of glutamate and glycine
is being overly complex, the only thing you need to know about them is that
there is at least one physical process that can distinguish between the two

 John K Clark
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