Re: More qualia

jeff nordahl (
Thu, 16 Dec 1999 01:26:26 PST

Dan- I really hate to throw in the towel on a potentially productive dialectic, but there seems to be a frustrating pattern of circular regression going on here. Perhaps the argumentation would be more interesting and beneficial if you could supply your explanation of qualia, instead of just adamantly claiming that they don't exist, explain why every single one of us including the rest of the world seems to agree that they experience some form of qualia. Even if we are fooling ourselves and experiencing an illusion, there has to be an explanation for why we all seem to experience qualia. If we all share in this illusion, then qualia (or the false perception of qualia) seems to be essential the human consciousness, if not all current consciousness. It may even be the essential element that sets us apart from AI or is the missing link for strong AI??

This is all very relevent I would believe to understanding behavior and motivation with reward/punish qualitative states. We don't have to just ponder what it is like to feel hungry. To get more specific and microscopic, we can question the purpose of the sensation of an opiate, endorphine, or adrenalin and other neural chemistry as motivators. (pardon my lack of psycho-chemical terminology) I'm experiencing the qualia of my neuro-chemistry right now (I'm engaged and prioritizing writing this message over my qualia of fatigue due to sleep deprivation), and perhaps that is what is driving me to write this, and driving me to try to reach some truth. Wouldn't that motivation be nice to harness and impliment in an AI? We all seem to have qualia, so sorry they don't fit into your little box of logic. Just cause they're not convenient to your theory doesn't justify erasing them.

Now from your current perspective, I am trying to understand the benefit of denying qualia. What is gained? Please tell us your explanation for what is going on when you see something that is red. Or explain what is going on when you smash your hand with a hammer. Feel free to look at something red while smashing your hand if it will enhance the non-existence of your qualia. You should limit yourself to three bashes with the hammer so as not to obliterate your hand just in case you experience no painful (educational) qualia. Please refrain from your UPPER CASE and lower case definitions when reporting your results.

There was an earlier inquiry as to what qualia is: qualia is a rather slippery term that can easily ooze into conceptual words like sensation, "feels like", perceive as, interpret, (the experience of feeling and perceiving sensory data) but the simple definition is the qualitative mental states like pains, itches, and sensations of red. True, my red may be your green, but we both seem to be experiencing a sensation (interpretation) of color.


>I must admit, I'm pretty disappointed in the way I keep bumping up against
><qualia are a first principle>. I'm now beginning to see why there was
>such disdain to bringing up the topic to begin with. Oh, well.
>This whole experience reminds me of why I decided to major in biomedical
>engineering instead of philosophy, despite the fact that I usually enjoy
>philosophy far more.
>-Dan, shouting in the dark
> -unless you love someone-
> -nothing else makes any sense-
> e.e. cummings

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