[FoRK] Why is there any experience of it, at all? (was: GEB, etc.)
<elias at soe.ucsc.edu> on
Tue Jul 10 08:37:44 PDT 2007
Lion Kimbro wrote:
> On 7/9/07, Elias Sinderson <elias at soe.ucsc.edu> wrote:
>> 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.
> But we can't conceive of the motion of atoms (in the pattern that is
> heat,) without heat.
As Russel noted, this is exactly what 18th century physicists thought.
> But we can conceive of the motions of neurons without an experience.
Sure, similar to how very slowly moving atoms don't feel 'hot'. Perhaps
it would be clearer to replace the word 'heat' with 'temperature' in the
above... An absence of perceived 'heat' does not imply an absence of
atomic motion, only that the motion doesn't impart enough energy for me
to perceive the heat. There is, however, still temperature, and I see
conscious experience much the same way -- some 'motions of neurons' just
aren't moving enough to cause 'experience'. Indeed, there are many
things going on in the motion of my neurons that (thankfully) I am not
aware of. Various activities of my limbic system, or my autonomic
nervous system, are good examples of this.
One can clearly conceive of situations in which the motions of neurons
do not register as 'experience' and, further, there are a great number
of experiments which are able to demonstrate this 'threshold effect'
quite well. Cognitive scientists have been exploiting this for some
40-50 odd years now with a great deal of success. I think what
distinguishes our position on the matter is simply that it seems to
bother you (like an itch you need to scratch), but I am quite
comfortable with the notion due to my framing of the problem (if it can
even be called a problem).
> But we CAN conceive of neurons firing like when there is an associated
> experience, but we can ALSO conceive of there not being an experience
> on the other end of it. Ergo, there's an explanatory gap.
There s only an explanatory gap if you assume that neural activity
implies associated experience. This is clearly not the case, hence no
> They are not coupled-in-identity, like the atoms and heat [...]
See above, re: degrees of perception and awareness, and get back to me...
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