[ExI] consciousness and perception

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at comcast.net
Sat Jan 24 19:27:53 UTC 2009

John K Clark wrote:
> The other thing I object to is that a collection of atoms cannot generate
> subjectivity, there must be something else. And I don't much like it that
> they give no hint of what that "something" is.

We all agree a collection of atoms has a set of behavioral qualities.  
In other words, each atom behaves in a particular way.

This theory:


simply predicts that in addition to these behavioral properties, 
something about atoms also has phenomenal qualities like red, green, the 
taste of salt....  Very different than behavioral properties.  The atoms 
don't generate subjectivity, they simply have the phenomenal qualities 
subjectivity is made of.

If you shine light on a collection of atoms that have a red phenomenal 
quality (that evolution utilized to intelligently/subjectively represent 
something that reflects 700 nm light), certainly we can't expect them to 
reflect 700 nm light the way a strawberry can.  Whatever light is 
reflecting off of these atoms (or is in any way downstream from any 
cause and effect based detector) may represent what those atoms are 
like, but the light (or any causally downstream abstracted 
representation that can detect the atoms) only represents the behavior 
of the atoms.  The light or detector is phenomenally and fundamentally 
very different than the original atoms being detected.  The only way to 
know the true meaning of what the light is abstractly representing is by 
mapping the abstracted representation back to the original atoms and 
what they are phenomenally and fundamentally like.  (as in oh THAT is 
what they are like)

This is why cause and effect abstracting observation is blind to such 
phenomenal properties.  Something physically different can represent 
them, but such abstracted representations must be grounded by actual 
phenomenal experience (as when you 'eff' the ineffable) before you can 
know, phenomenally, what they are really like - or what the 
representations need to be mapped back to, in order to know what they 
represent fundamentally and phenomenally.

Just as we don't know why atoms behave in a particular causal way, there 
is nothing 'mystical' or 'impossible' with the theory that in addition 
to causal behavior, particular atoms in our brain (or something closely 
related to them) also have particular phenomenal properties.

Brent Allsop

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