Qualia Freak

Qualia Freak
Darcho
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#21 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 11, 2005 - 1:54 PM:

A1 wrote:

What on earth could it mean to say the qualitative is really quantitative abstraction? The quantitative is defined by that which can be measured. It is a process or event in the world which potentially anyone can observe. The qualitative is wholly known by the felt experience. Utterly different.


It could mean that what we refer to as "quality" could arise by means of abstracting from observable quantity.

Based upon quantitative observations, humans have developed interrelative concepts to refer to the physical similarities and differences found between objects.

I see a certain quantity of electromagnetic radiation being emitted from object-1, and then beside object-1 I see a different quantity of electromagnetic radiation being emitted from object-2. Based upon their differences, I produce a sound to refer to the first quantity, "ugh", and then produce a sound to refer to the second quality, "gog". In this case 'ugh' means "not-gog" and 'gog' means "not-ugh". I can then say, supposing I have names for each object, object-1 has the quality of being "ugh" and object-2 has the quality of being "gog". Likewise, I could even say that object-1 has "ugh-ness" and object-2 has "gog-ness".

If it was the case that there was no observable difference in electromagnetic radiation emittance between object-1 and object-2, then I would not have produced either of the sounds, and I could not then say that either object had a quality; I would have not abstracted quality from quantity.

Edited by Darcho on Oct 12, 2005 - 4:58 AM
Jeff Lister
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#22 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 11, 2005 - 8:55 PM:

Reformed Nihilist wrote:
If you don't wish to appear evasive, could you please give a definition of what you meen by qualia.
I dont care if i appear evasive; i was only mentioning that i dont mean to be.
You keep using the term in a way completely foreign to me and I am getting frustrated by your seeming refusaal to define the term.
O.K.; you know Francis Crick's, 'The Astonishing Hypothesis?' What he describes as 'seeing red' (i think it was 'red in a particular region of one's field of view') is for me only potentially qualia. It becomes qualia when it impinges on a function that could be called you (I think the 'function that is you' has to do with how the brain accesses memory, or maybe even how it stores memory). When i observe quality as a thinking mind (rather than as an involved being) i generally see red objects, or fuchsia objects even, i dont generally see the three colors and object as seperate.

So i guess, to be as precise as i can, originally (for myself when i begain considering consciousness) i had defined qualia by considering base physical inputs like the three types of rods, the cones, the tactile and temperature sensors on the skin, etc. etc.. There was pure green qualia, pure red, etc.etc.; a thought had no aspect of qualia. I think that was wrong; i think qualia as it presents to the self (not to suggest that there is any other kind) depends very much on one's state of mind. I think that conscious self evolved at the largest scales first while grounded conscious experience began at the level of the particular (the organism); the human animal exists at a crossroads, our 'window of opportunity' is not as large as it appears.
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#23 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 11, 2005 - 11:01 PM:

Ok, this (whether you agree with it or not) is an example of what I mean by a concise definition:

Qualia (singular: "quale", pronounced KWAHL-ay) are most simply defined as the properties of sensory experiences by virtue of which there is something it is like to have them. These properties are, by definition, epistemically unknowable in the absence of direct experience of them; as a result, they are also incommunicable.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia

This is what I am asking you to provide. Without it, every sentence in the above post that uses the word qualia is gibberish to me. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I am trying to understand you so that I can decide if your ideas have any merit, or flaws that you might wish to know about. As you can see, if I were to accept this definition, my assertion that qualia were unverifiable in any objecttive manner is inherent in the meaning of the word.
Jeff Lister
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#24 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 12, 2005 - 7:15 PM:

Reformed Nihilist wrote:
Ok, this (whether you agree with it or not) is an example of what I mean by a concise definition:

Qualia (singular: "quale", pronounced KWAHL-ay) are most simply defined as the properties of sensory experiences by virtue of which there is something it is like to have them.
This is about as far as i'd go. And i would add something like 'they range from the particular qualia of cognitive experience to the most general quale experienced by a non-thinking being (i mean what it's like when you stop thinking and let it all in at once.)
These properties are, by definition, epistemically unknowable in the absence of direct experience of them; as a result, they are also incommunicable.
The problem i have with this bit is that it seem to deny mutual understanding. I would add '...incommunicable to beings of dissimilar sensory experience.' Now, there's two ways to look at this; you and i can share an event, or we can share functional roles in two seperate events. Both situations play pivotal roles in shaping meaning, as i see it.
As you can see, if I were to accept this definition, my assertion that qualia were unverifiable in any objecttive manner is inherent in the meaning of the word.
I see. Consider that, if functionalism is sound then, it might be that qualia could be verified by their functional role; if every measured subject testifies as the hypothetical theory would predict, it would not be an unreasonable conclusion.
I'm not trying to be difficult, but I am trying to understand you so that I can decide if your ideas have any merit, or flaws that you might wish to know about.
Thanks, either way.
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#25 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 12, 2005 - 9:29 PM:

So let me see if I understand. Qualia are private experiences but, as can be verified via language and observation of physiological events, are the same from human to human (assuming no irregularity such as colour blindness). Is this what you are saying?

If it is, we get into the discussion of "how do you know if what red is like for you is the same as it is like for me?". There is no way to determine if the 'like-ness' is shared or just the language and the general physiological events. I agree that the similarities in physiological occurences of people who experience similar events can strongly imply a causal likeness, but the fact that every human has different brain chemistry makes even this method imperfect.

I think it is a valuable point that you make, but I think that the nature of the concept of 'like-ness' defies the precision of measurement demanded to arrive at any objective conlusions.
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#26 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 13, 2005 - 8:21 PM:

Reformed Nihilist wrote:
Qualia are private experiences but, as can be verified via language and observation of physiological events, are the same from human to human (assuming no irregularity such as colour blindness). Is this what you are saying?
I wouldn't at the outset say 'human to human;' i'd say 'cognitive self to cognitive self.' I don't say 'conscious self' because i think consciousness is a prerequisite of the self awareness required to define qualia. Other than that, you've got me.
There is no way to determine if the 'like-ness' is shared or just the language and the general physiological events. I agree that the similarities in physiological occurences of people who experience similar events can strongly imply a causal likeness, but the fact that every human has different brain chemistry makes even this method imperfect.
I'd agree as far as clinical applications go but; this is philosophy, why not just maximally constrain the situation? Besides, what does it matter to the meaning of the words; as long as you and i see a spectrum of congruent width and fidelity, for example?
I think it is a valuable point that you make, but I think that the nature of the concept of 'like-ness' defies the precision of measurement demanded to arrive at any objective conlusions.
Well, i certainly appreciate that you consider it a point made. I would reiterate my point by asking, how much precision is necessary to admit that qualia exist? Given that they exist we can say that consciousness is an aspect of physical being; but, since we can't see the self consciousness that is potentially required to experience qualia in a meaningful way (i mean to intentionally change culture,) we can't say 'human to human,' we must say 'cognitive self to cognitive self.'
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#27 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 14, 2005 - 6:17 AM:

Jeff Lister wrote:
I would reiterate my point by asking, how much precision is necessary to admit that qualia exist?


I don't question the existence of qualia. It's just another way to put together a set of observations and make sense of them. My issue is the distinction between measuring a quale itself and measuring the empirical data that causes us to talk about qualia. It is imprecise to say that we are measuring qualia themselves, and science works because it demands precision. To answer the questions "how much percision is necessary?", as much as will make for consistently accurate prediction.

Given that they exist we can say that consciousness is an aspect of physical being;


Whoa. Physical being? I'm not sure what you mean by 'aspect of physical being', but if you are implying that qualia and consciousness are physical objects, then we disagree. Why bring up 'physical being'?
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#28 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 14, 2005 - 6:24 PM:

Yeah, what the hell is 'physical being'? God? Is God physical? Well who knows? but this isn't the subject, we're talking about Qualia, and how it is different from Materialism. For me the argument that seals the physicalists zombie like death is 1st person perspective. " ahh...this is what it feels like to be stoned..." and a physicalist wants to come along and say " Hold on chappy...this Red you're seeing is only physical...it's all in your brain." I doubt that. I think the MAry and the Red is a good justification of Qualia ( Jackson) and in it he shows that Mary learns something knew ( although she already had the K of Physical "facts") however this thing she learns is almost a different mode of presentation ( this gives the materialism his C fibres) and on viewing the red she might say " ahhh...this is what Red is!" You see? How on earth could someone know all physical facts and yet say such words? Is this the almighty death of materialism? Will scientists burn their white coats and become crazy town drunkards screaming about "Redness!" well, i don't know, we can only hope i suppose... however phenonemal experiences are a clear fact, and you would have to be a dingbat with a huge forehead to doubt that.

=-)

<M>
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#29 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 14, 2005 - 7:42 PM:

Reformed Nihilist wrote:
I don't question the existence of qualia. It's just another way to put together a set of observations and make sense of them.
It's that 'making sense of them' thing that lies at the heart of the matter. It seems likely to me that the 'making sense of them' defines the dividing line between the macro of general relativity and the micro of QED; kind of like the way that north west africa fits into the gulf of mexico makes one look for something like the mid-atlantic ridge. I'm asking, where was the dividing line that defines self before it was in the human animal? Does it make sense to look toward the macro or the micro, or to not look at all? Looking toward the micro one sees the evolution of this diversity of biological form but, one does not see the cognition that helps define self in the particular organism until we see it in us and still it is not clear how particular or individual our selfconsciousness is.

Can i see any sort of dynamic that would make a look toward the macro reasonable? I think i can, when i consider that neurons dont actually touch each other, when i consider further that they communicate by what is functionally very close to our own sense of smell. At any rate, i wont go on about the peculiar details of myown dogma; suffice it to say that my interest here seems to be to defend certain subtle semantic distinctions that, while they might appear trivial, are vital as far as i can see.
Whoa. Physical being? I'm not sure what you mean by 'aspect of physical being', but if you are implying that qualia and consciousness are physical objects, then we disagree. Why bring up 'physical being'?
I mean that there is some property(ies) of 'matter in space' (properties not yet sufficiently obvious) by which consciousness (not necessarily cognition) is possible.
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