[FoRK] Why is there any experience of it, at all? (was: GEB, etc.)

Elias Sinderson <elias at soe.ucsc.edu> on Mon Jul 9 22:17:28 PDT 2007

Lion Kimbro wrote:
> [...] All of our language about "consciousness" is rather rough-hewn.
Agreed, one hudred percent; I do not believe this to be of much contention.
> Consider:  [various definitions of consciousness]
> Similar with experience, and so on.
> One guy even made an argument [...] to draw attention to the 
> difference between the neural correlates of an experience, and the 
> actual experience itself. Unless society sees fit to draw such 
> distinctions into conventional vocabulary, we have to try and follow 
> what people mean, and clarify as necessary.
So therein lies the rub, doesn't it? Unfortunately, I believe that this 
is a false distinction, if ever there was one*, akin to trying to make a 
distinction between the motion of atoms and heat -- the motion of the 
atoms /is/ the heat. Qualia do not exist, except as a construct of our 
own convention and comfort. The neural correlate of an experience /is/ 
the experience; without the neural correlate, there is no experience.

I strongly believe that an important key to this business lies in the 
formation of memory. Without memory, there is little to say of 
experience, or anything at all for that matter, including the perception 
of time, learning of language, etc. As for the zombies, well, I don't 
care for the gedanken experiment, myself, as I feel it is operating from 
a false set of initial conditions. One could, however, imagine that the 
zombies simply had no memory (and an unsatiable hunger for 


* It is a fine trick to draw a false distinction out of a thing and then 
spend a great deal of time philosophizing over the confusing 
relationship between these separate things, when in reality the 
confusion has only been introduced by trying to create the distinction 
in the first place.

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