Re: q*****

Dan Fabulich (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 22:41:45 -0500 (EST)

'What is your name?' 'Zeb Haradon.' 'Do you deny having written the following?':

> When I try to convince you that qualia exist, I am not asking you to take my
> word for it. I am appealing to the belief that you, too, have them, and you
> can see it clearly for yourself.

Arguments like these wouldn't pass muster in ANY other circle. Why accept them here? What good does it do anyone?

> But would he be mistaken about the presence of the impressions?
> Perhaps this argument is just a problem of reference.
> Let's play a game.
> You: Qualia do not exist
> Me: But I experience them
> You: You just think you experience them, but you're mistaken. I can
> independently measure that these dots have disapeared, but you still
> experience them. See, you are mistaken.
> Me: Ok, sorry. That mistaken experience of experiencing them, that is what I
> actually mean when I say qualia.

You missed the point of Ken's example. I take the point of Ken's example is that you can convince yourself of all sorts of preposterous things. Like the fact that you're Experiencing.

This isn't a game that you can keep playing. If I say "you don't Think," I don't mean that "you Think that you Think," I mean you don't Think AT ALL.

So, here I'll say it: You don't Think. You don't Think that you Think. You don't Think that you Think that you Think. You *just* *don't* *Think*. You "think."

> Me: Ok, sorry. That experience I mistook for mistakenly experiencing the
> dots, that is what I really meant by qualia.

You had no Experience at all. You had an "experience." (Note the use of quotes, indicating functionalist sense.) Is THAT what you meant by qualia? If so, qualia have no mystery; "experience" is just the exhibition of certain physical functional properties, fully explainable by 3rd person deterministic science.

Being mistaken does not imply having an Experience. It implies EITHER that you've had an Experience OR that you've had an "experience." You cannot justifiably assume the former in light of the evidence to the contrary.

> You: But you just think you are mistakenly experiencing an experience
> you mistook for the dots. You're really not though, it's a mistake. ad
> infinitum - qualia is the final result. How can you be mistaken about
> what you've thought that you've thought that you've thought that you've....
> (etc)... thought that you've experienced? This assertion of the existence of
> qualia is so empty of.. assertion.. that it can't be wrong.

At the end is "thought," not Thought. If qualia is the final result, then qualia are "thoughts," not Thoughts.

> So how do I know they're there? That's not a rhetorical or dismissive
> question, I would really like to figre it out. The conflict is this:
> qualia exist, I am 100% certain. I am more certain that qualia exist
> then that matter does, since matter is inferred. Yet, they are not
> deducable from the premises of modern science, and shouldn't exist.

You may be 100% certain, but not justifiably so. Skepticism goes all the way down. The evidence to the contrary (their total non-interaction with the physical world) coupled with a rational principle that forbids such things (law of parsimony) suggests that it's time to give up on this idea.

Look, would you *at least* admit that if qualia were deniable, then we ought to deny them?


-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-

e.e. cummings