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Qualia as bare difference

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 4:41 am

Tam
And sorry I'm not familiar with much Wittgenstein, such as his 'language games', so you'll need to spell out what you mean.
I just referred to this:
viewtopic.php?p=326715#p326715
OK.



We can only communicate about what our mental experience is (eg my experience of seeing a beetle), because none of us has an objective 'god's eye view' of reality. That's inherent to being a Subject with a first person pov.


Experience is also inherently private - I can't see what you're experiencing seeing. As if your experience is inside a box I can't see into.


Hence we have to communicate to share experience, because we can't mind-meld. But we can never be sure that what we call blue or a beetle is the same for both of us.

If the language works in a practical sense, then it will become accepted regardless. And we can infer that it's down to sufficient similarities in us which enables it to work on a practical level. (This is where your notion of structure applies?).


But the issue arises because experience is inherently private. (Hence the problem of inverted qualia). And that's why we can't be certain that rocks which can't communicate with us have experiential states, or computers which can communicate with us do. Or anyone/thing but ourselves ultimately (the problem of absent qualia, or philospohical zombies).


Does that make sense? If so, the issue is rooted in the inherently private/first person/subjective nature of experience.

However, our ability to coherently communicate suggests there's enough similarities ('structure' ) in how we experience to make that possible. Neural correlation is a different type of approach which suggests that too. But it's not ultimately knowable, because of the root problem - the private nature of experience. So if we both say each of us has a pain in our left little toe, we can go for neural scans and similar parts of our brain will show similar activity. But ultimately we can't know if we're experiencing something similar, because what we both call pain (or beetles) might be different. What you call pain might be my tickly, or sneezy, or maybe even blue or tree, or it might be a dream, or you might be a philosophical zombie, or might not exist, nothing might exist but 'my' experiential states. Everything else is inferred, based on the content of those experiences.

The only thing which can be known for certain are 'my' experiential states exist. And their properties are their content. I can only know you exist as a content-property of 'my' experiential states. I can only know my own body and brain exist in the same way.

That's why any hypothesis which says experiential states aren't real or only relational doesn't work. It's the public/shared act of communicating (language) which is relational, not the experiential states themselves. .

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 10th, 2019, 5:07 am

Greta:

I forgot to mention that those qualia spiders or we have, cannot be described with physical language. I think Dennett would not say this.

Gertie:
That's why any hypothesis which says experiential states aren't real or only relational doesn't work. It's the public/shared act of communicating (language) which is relational, not the experiential states themselves. .
Your post seems to be in line with what I think, and we seem to agree that what unites us is the similar structure of our consciousnesses. Of course qualia are real. The fact that qualia are components of a structure makes them relational, kind of variables that get filled in language, when we understand each other and decide to call one component of our qualia structure 'red' for instance. So language fixes what was relational and private to make it public and unambiguous, more or less.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 5:26 am

Tamminen wrote:
January 9th, 2019, 5:36 am
Consul and Gertie:

We live in the same world, so our structures of consciousness are similar, and correspondingly we behave in similar ways. This is the basis of our understanding each other and establishing a language that connects us as a communication community.

As we meet the world, our experiences are very concrete and real, like feeling pain or seeing red. There is no disagreement on this. And we reach full agreement if you answer "no" to the question: "Can we meaningfully ask if my pain and your pain are similar, or if my red and your red are similar?" Structures are pre-linguistic, but sameness or similarity of qualia are defined in language. There is no pre-linguistic "essence" of qualia that we can denote independent of whose qualia they are. Can we agree on this?
See my answer above re Wittgenstein's pet beetle for how I think about this.
We live in the same world, so our structures of consciousness are similar, and correspondingly we behave in similar ways. This is the basis of our understanding each other and establishing a language that connects us as a communication community.
OK lets take as true there's a real universe 'out there' which we share and which we can roughly/limitedly know things about.

We behave in similar ways, we can communicate coherently, so it's fair to assume that when we both say 'I have a pain in my toe' we're talking about a similar type of experience. And on that basis we can create a shared world model which works.
As we meet the world, our experiences are very concrete and real, like feeling pain or seeing red. There is no disagreement on this.
Great!
And we reach full agreement if you answer "no" to the question: "Can we meaningfully ask if my pain and your pain are similar, or if my red and your red are similar?"
We can't know the answer for certain. We can infer it based on the other similarities above (behaviour, brain structure, the ability to communicate coherently).
Structures are pre-linguistic, but sameness or similarity of qualia are defined in language.
The experience itself is pre-linguistic. Take away the notion of 'structure' and you're left with... experience itself being pre-linguistic.

It's reasonable to infer that language (including definitions) is coherent and works because of similarities of experiencing we share. We can't be certain because experience is inherently private, but it's a reasonable inference.
There is no pre-linguistic "essence" of qualia that we can denote independent of whose qualia they are. Can we agree on this?
Depends what you mean by 'essence'. But there is a real experiential state of 'feeling a pain in my toe', independantly existing regardless of if or how I/we denote it in language.

So -

- The private experiential state of a pain in my toe is real.

- We can communicate coherently about you also having a pain in your toe. That suggests we have to be similar enough to make that possible.

- And the thing which is being compared and inferred to be similar, are our pre-linguistic real experiential states.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 5:34 am

That's why any hypothesis which says experiential states aren't real or only relational doesn't work. It's the public/shared act of communicating (language) which is relational, not the experiential states themselves. .
Your post seems to be in line with what I think, and we seem to agree that what unites us is the similar structure of our consciousnesses. Of course qualia are real. The fact that qualia are components of a structure makes them relational, kind of variables that get filled in language, when we understand each other and decide to call one component of our qualia structure 'red' for instance. So language fixes what was relational and private to make it public and unambiguous, more or less.
I think our (yours and mine) ways of using language gets in our way sometimes ;).

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 5:37 am

James
Gertie wrote: ↑
January 8th, 2019, 11:23 am
I'm not sure what you mean by the 'private structure of phenomenal relations'? And how can their be a structure of relations, if there aren't actual things (experiential states) to relate?
[reads thread]
[reads OP]
[points at OP]
lol fair point.

Not sure you and Tam are talking about the same thing tho.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 10th, 2019, 5:47 am

Gertie wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 5:26 am
The private experiential state of a pain in my toe is real.
Yes.
We can communicate coherently about you also having a pain in your toe. That suggests we have to be similar enough to make that possible.
Similar structures, yes.
And the thing which is being compared and inferred to be similar, are our pre-linguistic real experiential states.
We do not compare them, because there is nothing to compare, no "essence". We have the concept of 'red' in our language and we describe our experiences using that concept. I think that was Wittgenstein's point. So you have a different view on this? Like Consul perhaps.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 10th, 2019, 12:49 pm

Gertie wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 4:41 am
But we can never be sure that what we call blue or a beetle is the same for both of us.
Yes we can, because the concept 'blue' is part of our language. Our "qualia structures" are similar enough to make it possible to use the word 'blue' in a consistent way, so that it always corresponds to the same "place" in our "color space", or "internal rainbow". And it makes no sense to ask if my "rainbow" and your "rainbow" are similar in themselves, outside of language. The possibility of using the concept 'blue' makes my blue the same as your blue. There is no "blue in itself", or "my private blue in itself", only blue as part of my "internal rainbow", in relation to the other colors.

On the other hand, looking at the rainbow, I understand your view. Perhaps we speak of different things, like always on these forums.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 4:03 pm

Tamminen wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 12:49 pm
Gertie wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 4:41 am
But we can never be sure that what we call blue or a beetle is the same for both of us.
Yes we can, because the concept 'blue' is part of our language. Our "qualia structures" are similar enough to make it possible to use the word 'blue' in a consistent way, so that it always corresponds to the same "place" in our "color space", or "internal rainbow". And it makes no sense to ask if my "rainbow" and your "rainbow" are similar in themselves, outside of language. The possibility of using the concept 'blue' makes my blue the same as your blue. There is no "blue in itself", or "my private blue in itself", only blue as part of my "internal rainbow", in relation to the other colors.

On the other hand, looking at the rainbow, I understand your view. Perhaps we speak of different things, like always on these forums.
I think the pain in my toe example makes my point clearer.

The experience of having pain in my toe is real, regardless of having language to describe it, and I can't be mistaken about the 'what it's like' nature of my own experience.

You can't directly perceive my experience of toe-pain tho, because experiential states are private.

But we can talk about it in a coherent way, which suggests you know roughly what it's like, have had similar experiences yourself.

That doesn't tell us anything about how toe-pain arises tho, or the fundamental nature of experience.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 4:43 pm

And the thing which is being compared and inferred to be similar, are our pre-linguistic real experiential states.
We do not compare them, because there is nothing to compare, no "essence". We have the concept of 'red' in our language and we describe our experiences using that concept. I think that was Wittgenstein's point. So you have a different view on this? Like Consul perhaps.
I found W's own final conclusion difficult to pin down from what you quoted, so I gave you my interpretation, which I think works.

My intrapersonal experience of what I call having a pain in my toe exists, is real and pre-language. I'm not sure what you mean by ''essence'', but I'd agree no two episodes of experiencing having a pain in my toe will be identical. Similar enough to be usefully categorised together tho when we use language.

That we can coherently communicate inter-personally about ''pain in my toe'' could well be because we both have similar experiential states, that makes sense.

But we can't verify that together because there is no way of checking from an objective 'god's-eye pov'. We are all ultimately stuck in our own first-person pov black boxes. We can communicate with language which describes the experiential state, observe each other's behaviour, look at scans, but not see inside each other's private intrapersonal experiential states. That's just the nature of experiential states.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 4:47 pm

I agree with this pithy summary from Consul
Experiential qualia are such real, natural qualities. You needn't have a concept of or a predicate for them in order to have them; and their qualitative nature is determined intrinsically, in and through themselves.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 5:03 pm

James, as I jumped the gun before, if you want to lay out what you think your thought experiment implies about qualia, maybe we can re-boot.

I'll start by clarifying this
I’m going to assume you will not ascribe Consciousness to the virus. Will you ascribe purpose to that protein in the membrane of the virus? I am suggesting you should ascribe teleonomic/archeo purpose to that protein.
I do agree on both. I don't/can't know if a virus is conscious, because we don't know the necessary and sufficient conditions for experiential states, but I doubt it because it's so dissimilar to what we agree are conscious critters. In lieu of a Theory of Consciousness, similarity of structure, processes, behaviour (and in the case of humans, reports) is what have to go on.

And I agree that teleonomy is a framing which allows us conscious critters to recognise a functional difference.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 10th, 2019, 6:04 pm

Gertie wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 4:03 pm
I think the pain in my toe example makes my point clearer.
So let us see where we agree and where not.
The experience of having pain in my toe is real, regardless of having language to describe it, and I can't be mistaken about the 'what it's like' nature of my own experience.
Yes.
You can't directly perceive my experience of toe-pain tho, because experiential states are private.
True.
But we can talk about it in a coherent way, which suggests you know roughly what it's like, have had similar experiences yourself.
Yes. I can imagine what you feel.
That we can coherently communicate inter-personally about ''pain in my toe'' could well be because we both have similar experiential states, that makes sense.
But not because we have a similar pain in the sense of "what it is like". That makes no sense. We cannot compare our pains even in principle, as you said, and therefore there is no reason to assume that there is anything like "similarity" between the pains themselves.
But we can't verify that together because there is no way of checking from an objective 'god's-eye pov'.
We need not verify it. The very existence of a language that contains the concept 'pain' and the rules of its use verifies it, ie. my possibility of telling you that I have pain in my toe.
We are all ultimately stuck in our own first-person pov black boxes.
No, I can tell you that I have pain in my toe.
We can communicate with language which describes the experiential state, observe each other's behaviour, look at scans...
Yes.
...but not see inside each other's private intrapersonal experiential states.
We need not. There is nothing to see.
That's just the nature of experiential states.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 10th, 2019, 7:35 pm

Tam


Alrighty. So we can agree -


experiential 'what it's like' states are real,

are not dependant on language for their existence

can only be directly known by the experiencing subject (private). [I have further thoughts on what a Subject is, but lets go with that for now]


From there, I see language as an inter-personal communication tool, rather than fundamental to the nature of experience.


But the fact the tool is useful, it works, suggests your experiential states have similarities to mine. Otherwise how come it works so well?

The fact we can create a language which makes sense to us both, and works in practice at a utlititarian level, suggests the way we experience the material universe 'out there' (which includes our own material bodies) has similarities. We can construct a shared linguistic model of the world because we have similar enough experiential states to do so.


So when I talk about the experiential state of a pain in my toe, it works if I assume you know I'm talking about a sensation rather than eg a sound or taste, that it's an unpleasant sensation rather than something I like, that it's associated with a particular part of my body, etc.

You might sympathise, offer advice about painkillers, or suggest bigger shoes - and those types of responses would make sense to me. We have a coherent shared working model where we can attach language to experiential states, on the basis that we both have similar enough experiential states.


We can't ultimately know if your experiential states are similar to mine, because they're not directly accessible to each other. But if we can jointly create a shared working model which works as if they are, that in itself suggests they could well be.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 11th, 2019, 5:18 am

Gertie wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 7:35 pm
We can't ultimately know if your experiential states are similar to mine, because they're not directly accessible to each other. But if we can jointly create a shared working model which works as if they are, that in itself suggests they could well be.
This is the only point you obviously did not get, or then you have a different view from mine. I think there is no sense whatsoever to compare our pains. We can speak of them to each other, and therefore they are similar. That is what similarity of qualia is. Therefore also this quote from Consul
...their qualitative nature is determined intrinsically, in and through themselves
is sort of empty and ambiguous, although there is nothing clearly wrong in it.

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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Greta » January 11th, 2019, 8:40 pm

Tamminen wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 4:23 am
Greta wrote:
January 10th, 2019, 1:58 am

Maybe I have missed the point, which seems rather Dennettesque.

Most qualities attributed to humans are actually those handed down by non-human ancestors, but we do like to think we are special.
To avoid misunderstanding: I am sure spiders see colors if they have appropriate cells to receive various wavelengths of light, and if they have a central nervous system. And these colors are what we call qualia.
I don't see it, Tam, because my preferred conceptions are different. I see qualia as the sensation of being alive that is common to all life forms, made different only by morphology and environment (which does reach the same conclusion as the thread that all beings' functional consciousness differ to some extent).

This thread treats metabolic systems only as a precondition of consciousness, whereas I see them as more likely to be foundational.

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