[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Mon Jan 13 18:02:09 UTC 2020

Hi Ben,
I didn't CC you.  The problem is, if posts are too long, they run the risk
of being not accepted to the list.
So many people, including me, want to be CCed, just in case a post is not

Also, congratulations.  You've come up with some great arguments some of
which are not consistent with glutamate being redness.
Again, as I was replying to Rafal, this kind of falsifiability is the point.

You just need any working hypothesis of what could be redness. What we are
describing is the technique to falsify that, or any other theory.  The
important thing is describing a non qualia blind method for
experimentalists to use, to falsify such theories.


On Sat, Jan 11, 2020 at 5:51 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Fri, Jan 10, 2020 at 3:50 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat
> <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> Brent:
> I think I have a way to disprove your idea about physical substances in
> the brain producing qualia,
> Is your position that specific types of molecule in the brain (e.g. the
> infamous glutamate) are what produce specific qualia (e.g. the infamous
> 'red'), and that this mapping is one-to-one (e.g. glutamate and only
> glutamate produces the 'red' quale and only that)?
> >Yes
> The consequence of this would be that if you removed glutamate from
> someone's brain (without killing them somehow), that person would be
> incapable of experiencing 'red'.
> >Exactly
> OK, good.
> My original idea turned out to be more difficult to verify than I
> expected, but it also gave me two other ideas, that are better, and easier.
> Only one is necessary, so I'll talk about the easiest one to explain and
> understand, and just mention the other one
> I'm going to call this the 'availability argument'.
> If a specific type of molecule produces a specific quale as you claim,
> then that type of molecule must be deployed or activated somehow, for the
> quale to become active. The example you always give, of glutamate, is a
> neurotransmitter, that's released at the pre-synaptic membrane, which is
> when it does its job of transmitting data from one neuron to another. If
> this is also when it somehow causes the 'red' quale to become active, we
> have an impossible situation.
> That's because of the very large number of qualia that can exist. We know
> that humans are capable of distinguishing several million different
> colours, and that's only a tiny fraction of all the qualia that can be
> experienced. There are probably at least hundreds of millions of qualia
> that are possible. By your own claim, each of them must be produced by a
> different type of molecule. This means we must have hundreds of millions of
> distinct types of molecule at the ready to be activated when needed. If we
> assume that most of these molecules are proteins (because there aren't
> enough varieties of any other kind of molecule, and and other type would
> have to be made by proteins anyway), theoretically there is no problem in
> creating them, we know that given enough amino acids, an arbitrarily large
> number of different proteins can be created. The problem is in having them
> available to be deployed when they are needed.
> Neurotransmitters are created in the neuronal cell body and transported
> down the axon, then stored in vesicles just inside the pre-synaptic
> membrane. Generally, one neuron uses one neurotransmitter (although that is
> being called into question now, it doesn't really matter for this argument,
> because the number of different neurotransmitters any one neuron uses is
> certainly low). When needed (when an action potential depolarises the
> synaptic membrane), a set of molecules on the inner surface of the membrane
> links the vesicles to the membrane, fusing them and releasing the contents
> of the vesicles into the synaptic cleft.
> We have identified somewhere between one hundred and two hundred different
> signalling molecules that can be used as neurotransmitters. Let's be
> generous and say a thousand exist. That's far short of the number of
> 'quale-producing' molecules we need, so it's obvious that it can't just be
> neurotransmitters that are involved.
> Let's assume, then, that some other, currently unknown system is
> responsible for the production of qualia, via these hundreds of millions of
> different types of molecule.
> The core of my argument is that these molecules can't possibly be
> pre-existing, ready to be deployed within a fraction of a second in the way
> that neurotransmitters are, because we would see them. We would know about
> the ridiculously huge numbers of different molecules just hanging around in
> our nervous system waiting for an appropriate signal to release them, or
> activate them, or whatever. We don't see this, we see a comparatively small
> number of signalling molecules instead.
> If they can't be stored ready for use, maybe they can be created when
> needed?
> That doesn't work either. Protein synthesis is not quick. it takes a few
> seconds to translate each amino acid, so a large protein (necessary, if we
> are to have hundreds of millions of distinct ones) will take minutes to
> produce at least. Then there's the transport of the proteins from the
> endoplasmic reticulum where they're made to the site/s where they are
> needed. For neurotransmitters, this means a trip down an axon, which is
> even slower.
> So on-demand synthesis is not an option either.
> There's also a parsimony issue. Why would our brains make and keep ready a
> vast set of molecules for qualia that we may never use? A native of a
> tropical forest is very unlikely to ever experience snow. Why keep all the
> molecules needed for this in his brain ready for use? We know that if such
> a native is exposed to snow, he will instantly experience a new set of
> qualia, without having to wait for a set of new molecules to be produced.
> With all the overhead involved in creating and maintaining a very large
> number of unused molecules, I'm sure evolution would have weeded out any
> such profligacy a long time ago.
> The upshot of all this is that there is an availability problem. Hundreds
> of millions of different types of molecule simply can't be made available
> for the production of qualia on the milliseconds timescale that we need. So
> the production of qualia can't be something that relies on a one-to-one
> correspondence with specific types of molecule.
> Another argument involves possible mechanisms for activating or deploying
> these molecules (assuming it was possible for them to be ready and
> waiting), and how any individual neuron or collection of neurons could know
> just which molecule to pick. I'm not going to unravel this argument here,
> but essentially it leads right back to what we currently know about how our
> nervous system works, and makes an enormous set of specific types of
> molecule redundant.
> If you, or anyone else, can see any flaws in the 'availability argument'
> above, please let me know.
> Oh, and PS: *Please stop Cc'ing my email address in your replies to the
> list*. I don't want to have to create a filter to automatically delete
> any emails from you.
> Thanks.
> --
> Ben Zaiboc
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20200113/f1ddfed0/attachment.htm>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list