[ExI] Qualia are incommensurate

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Wed Jul 24 16:43:59 UTC 2019

Hi Rafal,

OK, let me repeat what I hear you saying, to be sure I have it right.

Red and green qualities are “features of large neural networks that are
implemented in a complex physical substrate.”  If our awareness of
one-pixel changes from red to green, there are corresponding changes in
this large neural network that results in the change in the pixel from red
to green.

The leading consensus camp at Canonizer.com is Functionalism (
https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Qualia-Emerge-from-Function/18 and
https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Functional-Prprty-Dualism/8).  It sounds
like you are also in a form of this popular consensus camp.

This is a falsifiable claim, which the consensus “Representational Qualia
Theory <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Representational-Qualia/6>”
describes how to falsify (by not being qualia blind).  The Materialists
<https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Representational-Qualia/6> provide a way to
falsify their claims.  They come up with a hyper simplified example of
redness – it is quality of glutamate we are directly aware of.  Glutamate
is an elemental physical quality which can be computationally bound to
billions of other neurons (likely in complex computational standing wave
oscillations), firing with different neurotransmitters with different
elemental qualities, out of which our awareness of a changing pixel can be

If someone experiences elemental redness, without glutamate, the theory
will be falsified.  But if you can't falsify the theory,  if nobody can
ever experience redness, no matter what function you try, no matter how
large and complex a neural network you achieve, or anything else, theory

Functionalists always define things like you are doing, making it non
falsifiable.  An example I’ve tried to provide is a complex set of neurons
in a complex network doing the square root of 16 could result in redness,
while a more complex square root of 32 could result in greenness.  But
something like this is so absurd, that it doesn’t seem to pass the laugh

So, my question to you, then, is.  How might we falsify your theory?  Can
you provide an as simple as possible hypothetical example of your theory
about what is the nature of this super complex neural net that results in a
redness experience, which can pass the laugh test, which could be similarly
falsified or verified?

On Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 10:06 PM Rafal Smigrodzki <
rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 10:37 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi Rafal,
>> “Nothing we speak of is "just the redness", because of the
>> un-articulated, unspecified complexity hidden behind every image and every
>> word that pertains to the physical world.”
>> Let’s try this.
>> There is one of all possible pixels (smallest spot you can clearly
>> perceive) on the surface of a ripe red strawberry that is changing between
>> red and green.  You can focus on whichever spot is changing and you are
>> clearly aware of it as it changes from red to green.
>> Would you agree that there was something physical, in your brain, which
>> you are directly aware of that is this switching knowledge?  And would you
>> agree that the physics that was the “red” knowledge has a redness quality
>> you can be directly aware of, and when it changes to green, this different
>> physics has a greenness quality you are also directly aware of?
> ### Obviously conscious perception is a physical process but physics or
> awareness in my brain doesn't do anything "directly". There are probably
> hundreds of synapses involved in the basic calculation of reflectances
> (colors) in any small patch of the visual field, and the number of neurons
> involved in conscious, attentive perception of even the smallest sensory
> input is measured in the hundreds of millions if not billions. The
> qualities we talk about are features of large neural networks that are
> implemented in a complex physical substrate, and as I mentioned earlier,
> these are anything but simple or direct.
> In case you wanted to ask if "redness" could exist independently of a
> physically functioning neural network, my answer would be "no". And as I
> mentioned earlier, every unique network that perceives changes in
> reflectance on strawberries will have its own unique "redness",
> incommensurate with qualia in other networks.
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