Re: q*****

Dan Fabulich (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 02:41:32 -0500 (EST)

'What is your name?' 'John Clark.' 'Do you deny having written the following?':

> >It doesn't seem as impossible as you made it out to be.
> I am absolutely certain that intelligence without consciousness is
> impossible, by that I mean there is no doubt in my mind. The
> answer to the related question, am I also correct, will always
> remain unknown.

When I say "X is conceptually coherent" I mean that it would not be logically inconsistent to assert X. In comparison, it would be logically inconsistent to assert that molecules could bang together without heat, per Damien's point, or that something could exhibit all the functional properties of being a magnet without being a magnet. A magnet is defined to be the very thing which exhibits all of the functional properties of being a magnet. Qualia aren't defined by their functional properties; they're defined by prototype, if at all. On account of this, it would not be conceptually incoherent to assert that zombies could exist.

> No, one of my characters is, I am not Bob, Alf, or Zed.

True, but you agree with Bob, and you wrote the example, so I don't feel too far off the mark to attribute the example to you.

> I don't anyone could function if they did that, I know you reject it when you
> argue philosophy on the Extropian List but I'm skeptical that you do it in
> any other part of your life, when you hit your finger with a hammer for
> example. You may find reasons much later why the pain was unreal,
> but I'll bet dollars to donuts that's not what you felt at the time.

<shrug> I'm not picky about whether I'm Feeling Hurt or whether I'm "feeling hurt" when I'm damaged like that. Indeed, questions of philosophy rarely enter my mind when I'm under those conditions. If you were to ask me, however, if I thought that I was having a qualia right then, I'd answer no. (Again, I use Capitals to indicate the Cartesian-qualia sense and "quotes" to indicate the functionalist sense.)

You'll also notice that most of the time I don't bother to put the quotation marks around feeling and thinking words, since I usually don't bother to make which definition I'm using explicit. Nonetheless, on account of there being a functionalist sense in which I am "in pain" when I get wounded, I can still honestly make all the same sorts of claims about my own state of affairs that you can: "I'm in pain," "I'm hungry," "What an exquisite sensation I'm having!" are all things that I can say, though, if I wanted to be technical, I'd write things like "What 'pleasure!'", "These pretzels are making me 'thirsty'", and "Sometimes I feel 'unfresh'".

This excessive amount of technicality is pretty pointless for regular discussion, but useful for philosophy. It's got all the advantages of talking as if I had qualia, without any of those assumptions.

> By the way, in light of your views you used a very odd word that I
> don't understand at all, the word was "should".

Yeah, "should" is a hard word to explain/define to begin with. Suffice it to say that when I make statements of the form "Alice should X" where X is some action, I mean that Alice would be better off if she chose to X and worse off if she failed to choose to X.

> No, I don't think it's conceptually coherent, I'm certain it's not, I
> just can't prove it

So why believe it? That internal "proof" accessible only to you? If it's anything like mine, it's more dubitable than you seem to think.

> >YOU could be under the mistaken "impression" that you have qualia as well.
> Like all really important things "qualia" has no definition worth a damn,
> all I have are examples of it, or rather one example. Thus I certainly
> mean something when I say, I experience "qualia", I just have no way
> of knowing if it has any relationship to your understanding of the word.

Whether or not it does, a person can DEFINITELY get by without assuming that either Consciousness or qualia exist, even one's own.

> >Why should this process give rise to experience?
> I can't tell you why intelligence generates consciousness, Einstein couldn't
> tell you why mass warps space-time, he just showed that it did.

It's not JUST that you can't prove it, it's that there's evidence to the contrary (no soul/brain interface in the pineal gland) and rational principles against accepting it (Occam's Razor).


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

e.e. cummings