Re: Ken Re: >H Dictionary--Advice of Doubtful Merit

Robert Owen (
Mon, 29 Nov 1999 00:16:57 -0500

Ken Clements wrote:

> Robert Owen wrote:
> > Ken Clements wrote:
> >
> > > Just say "no" to qualia.
> >
> > And say "yes" to what? Surely you don't mean to suggest
> > that "subjective experience" is a quantitative state.
> Thank you, Robert, what I meant (and should have written) was:
> Just say "no" to <qualia>.
> Where <qualia> is the meme that says qualia has any explanatory value.
> I am quite convinced that qualia has no such value...


> In some ways I am sorry to be sending this <<qualia>> reply, because it
> will probably just feed <qualia> some more neurons (I'll bet D.
> Hofstadter would find this amusing).

I know Doug, and I assure you you're right. I was at Indiana University for awhile.

> > Do you experience your color "red" as an extensive magnitude?
> > How "large" would you say "red" is? Compared to the size
> > of, say, "yellow"? Or as an intensive magnitude? Which is
> > heavier: blue or green?
> Somehow I do not think the question "How large is red?" would give me as
> much trouble as "What is Mu?". No, I do not experience 'my' color "red"
> as an extensive magnitude because I have yet been able to get access to
> the level of neural processing at which it is so (or at least is a
> population density of firings).

[1] Agreed -- "Mu" is more difficult that the "size of red".

[2] Well, "density" here would be a "quantitative" magnitude, and I can't

     ask how "extended" 129 is; of course this is nonsense, but surely you
     are referring here to mathematical rather than metrical space. When I
     experience, say, a pure red painting 6 X 4 feet, my "patch" of red is
     much larger as a percept than my occipital lobe, and we know this
     redness is a sensation (i.e. experience), not a property of an object.
     My point here is that the concept of metrical "space" is merely a con-
     ventional artifact of objective measurement; it cannot possibly account
     for the perceived qualities of purely experiential components.

     I must remind you that my sensation called "redness" cannot be an
     observable object regardless of the refinement of our instruments.
     It may be possible to "measure" red, but only analogically by means
     of some other continuous variable, just as we measure the density
     of electron drift by means of its associated magnetic field and the
     deflection of an ammeter pointer induced by this field.  In this sense
     we might "detect" when a subject was experiencing red, but this has
     nothing at all to do with the experience itself.

> > Spectrometers don't know about "red" because they don't
> > know about anything)].
> Although the low level code has access to the quad four counters and
> base image correlation counters to calculate the e-ness or c-ness of the
> image, at a certain point the higher level code does not, and just gets
> the e-ness vs. c-ness. This is because the system has been trained by
> looking at thousands of cases of "e" and "c", and from these cases
> internal parameters have established low, medium, or high qualities of
> e-ness or c-ness. The high level software does not know where medium
> level e-ness ends and high level e-ness begins, it just knows it it
> looking at an image with high e-ness, and that, if it also gets a low to
> medium level of c-ness, it should call it an "e".

Once again, a comparator does not recognize identity; it merely generates a pulse (or some other output depending on the gate configuration) when A - B = 0.

Your post contains details that I want to think about some more; it was certainly most stimulating. Thank you.


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA