[ExI] Can philosophers produce scientific knowledge?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Sun May 9 23:02:25 UTC 2021

Hi Jason,

On Sun, May 9, 2021 at 2:09 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> I watched the series of videos you linked to, and while I thought it was
> well executed and explained, I did not find any account of qualia given
> either.

Hmmm, not sure how you were able to think that about the video.  You
certainly are the first I've seen to think anything like this.  Almost
every part of the video is going over what we know, infallibly, about
qualia.  everything from the statement in the intro: "We need to
pinpoint the location of your colored qualia" in the introduction to the
description of a few of the many camps  which are supporting sub camp
of "Representational Qualia
each of which account for qualia in different falsifiable ways.  RQT
basically describing how each of the sub camps can be falsified in a way
all the supporters of all sub camps agree with.

> My own beliefs concerning qualia and their ineffability is that qualia
> relate to how information is processed in the brain, while our third-person
> ("from afar") representations or descriptions of information can only
> capture a serialization of 1's and 0's. I can send words or hand gestures
> to you, or write squiggles on paper, to put new inputs into your senses,
> but I can't directly manipulate the processing of information as done by
> your brain. This is what differentiates book knowledge from first-person
> experience. It is also why Mary learns something new when she sees red for
> the first time: she activates new forms of processing information by her
> brain. She could read all the books in the world on what red is like
> without causing her brain to activate the appropriate areas that make her
> experience red.
>> For example, wonder if you have two bio-brains, one engineered to be
>> red/green qualia inverted.  With questions like: "What is redness like for
>> you, they will behave very different, but on everything else you are
>> describing in your post, they will behave identically, even possibly
>> better, in any way you care to define better.
> I think it is an open question whether the behavior would be identical for
> a qualia-inverted being,

Again, not sure how you can think this.  It would simply be a fact that if
two brains had inverted red/green qualia, and you asked them both: "What is
your redness like."  It is simply a logical fact that they must give
different answers, since they each represent red with different qualities.
This pictures basically shows each of the different answers each of these
people would give to the question: "What is redness like for you?"

[image: image.png]

> especially if you include introspection of brain processes in the scope of
> externally visible ("from afar") behaviors. As you say, to get inverted
> qualia requires a differently-engineered brain, and that would be a
> third-person observable difference. For there to be no observable
> difference in behavior with inverted qualia or not is also to suggest that
> if we had a switch that could invert or revert the qualia at will, that the
> observer could not notice or report on the flipping the switch back and
> forth. If they could not notice the flipping, then I think it is a
> difference that makes no difference, and thus is not a difference at all.

>> For that matter, Stathis is also always completely qualia blind, and any
>> functionalists I have ever seen, the same.  They never fully account for
>> qualia in anything they talk about or argue, and always completely avoid
>> any reference to what qualia are, or how they would fit in any of the
>> beliefs, or how redness might fit in their 'neuro substitution'....  To me,
>> this is very strong evidence that any functionalists has no grasp at all on
>> the qualitative nature of consciousness, and the assumptions they are
>> making.  They just ignore it all, thinking it doesn't need to be accounted
>> for.
> Visual perception is the most complex, and likely most contentious of
> qualia to discuss. I think it is easier to consider the quale of the most
> simplistic of senses, such as stimulation of a single tactile nerve. For
> example, lightly touch the back of your hand with the top of a pen so you
> can just barely feel it. What does it feel like? All we can really say
> about this quale is that it is nothing more than the knowledge of being
> touched in that particular location. *Qualia are just certain forms of
> knowledge*.

Again, not sure how anyone could get any utility in thinking of qualia this
way.  Qualia are simply a factual physical quality, or if we assume
functionalism, a factual functional quality which can represent knowledge.
As we've been pointing out, your redness could represent knowledge of red,
your redness could represent knowledge of green, or for that matter, a bat
could use redness to represent knowledge of prey it receives from
echolocation while hunting.

> The dictionary definition of consciousness is awareness of information.
> Awareness is having knowledge of. So consciousness is merely having
> knowledge of information.  There are infinite forms of information, and
> interrelations, and ways of processing information, and so I think there
> are also infinite varieties of possible qualia.
>>> The person with a compu-brain will still cry when in pain, still say
>>> there's an incommunicable difference between red and green, still describe
>>> their dull back ache in full (and identical) detail to the person with the
>>> bio-brain. If based on the brain of Chalmers or Dennett, the compu-brain
>>> will even still write books in the mysteries of consciousness and qualia.
>>> In short, there's would be no objective or scientific test you could do
>>> to rule out the consciousness of the compu-brain, as all objective
>>> behaviors are identical.
>>> Although you could reason that "if philosphical zombies are logically
>>> impossible" then "identically functioning compu-brains must be conscious,
>>> in the same ways as bio-brains are conscious."
>>> I see no rational basis for an assumption that the compu-brain is not
>>> consciousness or is differently conscious. But there are rational bases for
>>> assuming they must be the same (e.g. dancing/fading qualia, self-reports,
>>> non-dualism, non-epiphenomenalism, successes of neural prosthesis, the
>>> anti-zombie principle).
>>> 3. There must be something that is responsible for each of the intrinsic
>>>> qualities of each elemental piece of conscious knowledge, and you must be
>>>> able to observe these computational differences.
>>> Are you speaking from a first person or third person viewpoint when you
>>> say you must be able to observer computational differences?
>> Two answer this, let's assume our description of glutamate, reacting in a
>> synapse, is a description of your redness quality.
>> If not, then substitute all instances of glutamate, with whichever
>> description of stuff in our brain, is a description of redness.
>> Given that, here is the answer:
>> We "Directly apprehend" glutamate reacting in a synapse as a redness
>> quality of subjective experience (first person)
>> We observe glutamate, from afar, possibly using scientific instruments,
>> and we end up with a description of glutamate, and how it behaves.  (third
>> person)
>> Notice any description of how glutamate behaves tells you nothing of the
>> colorness quality of that behavior.  You need a dictionary to know that.
> I think we can rule out "glutamate" or any particular neural transmitter
> or molecule as having any immediate role in our perception, on the basis of
> the pigeonhole principle. There are far more possible perceptions (even
> just considering possible perceived colors) than there are
> chemicals/proteins in the brain. Color-blind individuals can perceive
> around 10,000 colors. Normally sighted individuals with trichromatic vision
> enables humans to distinguish around 1,000,000 different colors. A few rare
> humans are tetrachromats, and can perceive 100,000,000 distinct colors.
> This number is far greater than the number of genes in the human genome, so
> it is more than the number of unique proteins our cells can manufacture. So
> it's not possible for base molecules to represent qualia -- only higher
> level structures have room for enough unique complexity to explain the
> variety of our perception.

Of course. but that IS the point.  That fact that you can so easily falsify
the prediction that glutamate = redness, is the point.  Once you falsify
glutamate, you just keep substituting another description of something in
the brain, till it can no longer be falsified.  Then you will have an
objective definition of redness, having connected the subjective with the

The second point is for simplicity's sake.  everyone always get's lost and
distracted in all the complexity, and they completely miss the important
principle.  So, imagine you were a researcher in a simple 2 color world,
The only two colors were red and green, no other shades of color or
anything.  Emagine that in this world a description of glutamate is a
description of what you'd directly apprehend as redness, and a description
of glycine is a description of greenness.  So, given you were in such a
simple world, and didn't know these two facts, how might you connect the
subjective and the objective descriptions?  Then, once you can understand
how once you can make the connection that glutamate = redness and glycine =
greenness, you can then eff the ineffable, answer questions like: "What is
redness like for you?" (answer being glutamate, for one person and glycine
for the other) and so on.

Then once you understand the important principle of how the objective and
subjective can be connect, then you can start thinking about more complex
theories much more capable of not being falsified in our more complex world.

For more info on this, see the "Distinguishing between reality and
>> knowledge of reality
>> <https://canonizer.com/videos/consciousness/?chapter=differentiate_reality_knowledge>"
>> chapter of our video.
> If functionalism fails at the neural-simulation level, would your theory
> say it succeeds if we simulate everything physical down to the quark-lepton
> level, which includes all the electric fields, particles, glutamate
> particles, etc.? Or would this simulation result in a zombie world, with
> non-conscious patterns nonetheless writing books about qualia and the
> mysterious nature of the redness of red?

Your terminology is all so vague.  There are thousands of different ways
all of it could be interpreted to mean, so having troubles knowing which of
these thousands I should be thinking you mean.  Redness can be represented
and simulated by most anything.  It can be represented by greenness, or it
can be represented by +5 volts on a line (as we indicated in the video) or
anything else.  The only important thing to realize is that anything that
is NOT redness, which is representing redness, needs a dictionary to know
what that thing is representing.  While redness, itself, is simply a
physical fact about the quality of you knowledge of red things, no
dictionary required.  The prediction is that no functionalist will ever be
able to produce a redness quality experience with ANY function, no matter
what it is, or no matter what is running it.

I always like to ask functionalists to offer a similarly falsifiable
function, comparable to my Molecular Materialism glutamate falsifiable
example.  Like, maybe the function x squared is redness and x cubed is
greenness?  But of course, functionalists just always seem to give you that
blank stare proving they have no idea what you are even asking of them,
they don't seem to realize how absurd any functionalist prediction that any
particular function could in any way result in a physical redness quality
really is.

> While there are many reasons to doubt functionalism/computationalism,
> there is strong indirect observational evidence supporting it, which is
> that if we assume computationalism is true, we can directly explain many of
> the observed properties of our physical world. I have written about this
> here:
> https://alwaysasking.com/why-does-anything-exist/#Predictions_of_the_Theory

We clearly think of qualia and consciousness in very different ways, and
I'm having a real hard time getting a clear picture of your way.  It'd sure
be great if we could get your way 'canonized" in a camp in the "Theories of
Cons consciousness
topic.  Could we get you to come up with a camp name, and a concise
statement describing your view on all this, so we could get it canonized
with the other theories we've collected to date?  FYI, as you can see,
Stathis' camp is Functional Property Dualism
and mine is "Molecular Materialism
It sounds like your version of functionalism has more to it than just
Property Dualism
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