[ExI] Can philosophers produce scientific knowledge?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Mon May 10 04:06:31 UTC 2021

On Sun, May 9, 2021, 6:04 PM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> 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
> Theory
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/6-Representational-Qualia>"
> each of which account for qualia in different falsifiable ways.  RQT
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/6-Representational-Qualia#statement> is
> basically describing how each of the sub camps can be falsified in a way
> all the supporters of all sub camps agree with.

I mean I didn't see any additional explanation or resolution offered
concerning the problem(s) of explaining qualia. All theories of
consciousness struggle with this "hard problem". What new does RQT have to
say about it?

>> 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?"

How do you propose someone with inverted qualia would answer the question
differently? What would they say when asked to explain "What is your
redness like?" And how would there answer be different from someone without
inverted qualia?

> [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.

Can you articulate how qualia transcend knowledge states?

  Qualia are simply a factual physical quality, or if we assume
> functionalism, a factual functional quality which can represent knowledge.

Knowledge requires a knower. A punch card or hard drive can't know
anything. Knowledge requires (information+a system to be informed).

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.

Given dreaming, we know conscious states can also be entirely cut off from
an external world. The brain alone has everything it needs to create the
experience of redness, even in total darkness and an absence of any light
with a wavelength of ~700nm. Redness is a property of the structures and
relationships embodied by the brain, and nothing else.

>> 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 objective.
> 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.

Even in a world with simple conscious states I think we could find reasons
to doubt mind-brain identity theories. If we encountered space aliens or
robots with different neurochemistry that behaved or claimed to be
conscious, for instance. This is in my view, the main appeal of

> 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.

Could you explain your view of how the subjective and objective are

> 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.

What I mean to ask is: imagine a vast computer simulation that simulated
the entire observable universes down to the detail if the smallest
fundamental particles and field theories. Would the simulated humans in the
simulated Earth in the simulated Milly Way be conscious?

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.

I don't see that dictionaries offer anything about the experience of red.

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.

What is your rational for reaching this conclusion?

> 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.

A function whose information content is less than the information content
of the conscious experience could be falsified.

Whatever function is responsible for red experience is probably not simple.
Multiple layers of processing by various brain regions, involving a total
of some 30% of our cortex is involved in creating our visual experience. I
would think the function is vastly complex and also may involve
relationships with other non visual areas of the brain. It's not clear to
me you could have a red experience without considering the whole brain.

>> 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.

Ask away if anything I have said us unclear.

  It'd sure be great if we could get your way 'canonized" in a camp in
the "Theories
> of Cons consciousness
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/1-Agreement>"
> 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?

I don't know that my view is any different from standard digital mechanism
/ computationalism. It's just functionalism with an assumption of
finiteness and computability, which I understand is the standard
computational theory of mind.

  FYI, as you can see, Stathis' camp is Functional Property Dualism
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/8-Functional-Prprty-Dualism#statement>,
> and mine is "Molecular Materialism
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/36-Molecular-Materialism#statement>".
> It sounds like your version of functionalism has more to it than just Functional
> Property Dualism
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/8-Functional-Prprty-Dualism#statement>
> ?

I'll check out these definitions and let you know. Thanks! This site is a
noble effort serving and important purpose.

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