Re: q*****

Zeb Haradon (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 18:59:03 -0800

-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Clements <> To: <> Date: Tuesday, December 14, 1999 4:07 PM Subject: Re: q*****

>John Clark wrote:
> >
> > I can't tell you why intelligence generates consciousness, Einstein
> > tell you why mass warps space-time, he just showed that it did.
> >
>But John, he *did* show that it did, whereas you are just asking us to take
>your word for it.

No - there is no evidence one person could present to another to convince him that he is experiencing qualia.
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.

> I am willing to believe that you are honest about your internal
>impressions, but I can
>show you a common optical chart on which you will see dots that do not
>exist. Your internal
>impressions of the dots will be there, but the dots will not. A great deal
>of what we all

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: But you just think you are mistakenly thinking that you were mistakenly experiencing the dots.
Me: Ok, sorry. That experience I mistook for mistakenly experiencing the dots, that is what I really meant by qualia. 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. The ONLY possibility I can think of where you can be incorrect about your feelings is if you are reporting on past feelings. For example, you go to a party, have an awful time, never in the night enjoy yourself at all. Years later, someone brings the party up, and you spend a few seconds trying to remember it, and remember liking it. You are mistaken that you enjoyed yourself there (you never actually had the qualia of joy), but you would be correct in asserting that you are, at the moment, experiencing the qualia "memory of joy". There's also the possibility you are wrong about your internal impressions if, for example, you don't know what the word you're using means.
Do you notice a difference between your experiences, as experienced by yourself, versus my experiences, as experienced by you? (By experience my experiences - I mean by rationally constructing them from my words or actions). That difference is what is referred to as qualia - in your experiences as you experience them, there are qualia of the events which occurred. In my experiences as you experience them, there are no qualia. Sure, I guess they're an "illusion", seeing as they do not neccesarily always reflect the world exactly as it is - and the experience of red does not implicitly haven anything at all to do with the wavelength is repsesents. But to classify them as illusion is just dismissive - the interesting thing is why this particular illusion experienced as we experience it?
Here's an interesting thing, which I believe was originally pointed out by Chalmers: here as I sit typing about qualia, about the belief that I have them, I know that these actions of my typing are fully caused by physical causes. When I say "I have qualia!", the 100% cause of that event is the movement of my vocal folds, which is caused 100% by secretions of neurons innervating them.. which.. etc.. all the way back to, I suppose my sound going into my ears and photons hitting my eyes. So, strangely, this passionate defense of qualia is caused entirely by the newtonian movement of molecules, without qualia figuring into the picture at all. 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.

>experience internally is constructed by lower layers to seem real, but is
>just a fill-in
>Sometimes, like when that car is about to run you over, the filters will
>drop out and you can
>get the full bandwidth. It makes time seem to move very slowly, and you do
>not feel that you
>are thinking, just watching. You can't think in this mode because too much
>data is flowing
>through, so we have filters to chunk and simplify the input. With
>meditation it is possible
>to turn these off at will, but usually for only a short time, and it is an
>effort. If you
>take some LSD the world will change around you; direct electrical
>stimulation of the brain
>will do the same. The point is, your internal observations are one of your
>least trustworthy
>sources of information.

except if they are about your internal observations themselves.

>-Ken (that little old Zen Zombie, me)

Zeb Haradon
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