Re: q*****

Dan Fabulich (
Wed, 15 Dec 1999 00:45:34 -0500 (EST)

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

> Your arguments might have any merit if qualia were something that were
> postulated to explain something. If they were like quarks, or black holes,
> we could argue about the possibilities of their existence based on the data
> we have to support the qualia hypothesis. But qualia are not the hypothesis,
> they're the data. The entire world, all of science, every belief you have in
> everyday life are the hypothesis.

I can explain my data in the same way I can explain Blackstone's magic show. You "think" that you're Thinking in exactly the same way as it appears that the dove appeared out of nowhere. It did not. You do not.

We don't have to accept that everything that "seems" to be true is true, and I sure as heck hope you don't. All the OTHER evidence suggests that qualia are an "illusion." They CAN be consistently denied, even in everyday practice. I'm doing it right now!

> You fail to answer the most significant questions I'm asking: do you notice
> a difference between the way you experience events that happen to you, and
> the way you experience events that happen to me? What is this difference?

I haven't answered this question because it can't be answered. Have you noticed difference between the way your elan vital vibrates when things happen to you, as opposed to the way it vibrates when things happen to me?

If there's no Experience, then there's no difference between Experiences.

Of course, if you're talking about "experience," THEN I can answer the question, but that's probably not the answer your were looking for.

> Also: what premises do you use as a basis for all your beliefs?

I probably couldn't list all of them without a lot more introspection, but the applicable ones here are: Best fit with the rest of the data. (Best includes parsimony.) Pragmatism. (We ought to hold the beliefs which make us best off. We ought to hold beliefs which yield some imperatives for action.)

I recognize that my formulation of pragmatism is somewhat controversial; I'm not picky about it for the purposes of this discussion.

> If qualia do not exist, then the way we experience red, the particular
> visual sensation associated with it, what is that?

It's a nothing. You "think" it's happening, but it's not happening.

> Why does the function of classifying the light as a wavelength have
> this particular illusory sense associated with it?

My best guess for a physical explanation of "experiences": it's somehow evolutionarily easier for us to act upon our "experiences" if we believe that they're Experiences. Maximizing Pleasure, for example, "seems" like a good imperative for action; maximizing "pleasure" "seems" too abstract. If you "believe" that you have Emotions when you're only having "emotions," however, you'll act just as if you had Emotions, and thus get all the evolutionary benefit of Emotions, without actually having any.

Only a guess. Point being that a physical explanation of "experiences" is possible, and inevitably soluble. No physical explanation of Experiences is ever forthcoming. They don't exist.


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

e.e. cummings