[ExI] consciousness and perception

John K Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Fri Jan 30 18:31:22 UTC 2009

"Gordon Swobe" <gts_2000 at yahoo.com>

> I think you mischaracterize Locke.

I have nothing against Locke, he did as well as anyone in his time could
have, but the idea that he has anything to teach us today about the nature
of matter is nuts. It's as if any modern theory of cosmology must be
consistent with Aristotle and his crystal spheres.

> Our understanding of physics has changed since Locke's day

You think?

> but these changes have not in themselves refuted his basic idea that we
> can distinguish at least two kinds of properties or qualities of objects.

Some may like to put various properties of matter into different conceptual
categories, but there is not a ghost of a hint that matter itself takes any
notice of our subtle distinctions, not the smallest piece of experimental
evidence. Nada zilch zero goose egg.

And if you really like categories a case could be made that temperature is
more fundamental than shape, the opposite of what Locke thought; after all,
mathematicians can fit many apparently very different shapes into the same
topological category, not so with temperature. Locke new nothing about any
of this.

> Locke defined secondary qualities philosophically as *the powers of
> objects to affect the senses*.

Even playing by Locke's rules this makes no sense. Among his primary
properties were solidity, size, shape, and number but they all effect the
senses. We now know his ideas about motion and rest were nonsense, and I'll
be damned if I can see why solidity, which is a function of the object's
chemical composition is more fundamental than taste which is also a function
of its chemical composition. Why is touch more fundamental than taste and do
you really expect electrons to agree with this distinction and act

> No serious person would suggest that salt has a flavor in the absence of a
> taster.

Salt has a taste in the absence of a taster to the same degree that a salt
crystal has a hardness in the absence of a feeler. Personally I don't think
electrons in salt  give a damn about feelers or tasters, certainly no
experiment has given any indication of such empathy.

 John K Clark

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list