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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 5th, 2019, 9:01 pm

JamesOfSeattle wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 8:22 pm
Gertie wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:16 pm
. Do you have a link or something which might explain how I'm wrong?
To start I would look up (google) teleonomy and/or “Dawkins archeo purpose”

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OK, I had a quick look a while back, I'll give it a proper go.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by JamesOfSeattle » January 5th, 2019, 10:14 pm

Gertie wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 9:00 pm
Only for a conscious critter with goals and desires - in this case the goal/desire being to fly.
Okay, let’s move the goal post. I don’t know how much you know about viruses, so here’s the oversimplified version of one kind of virus:
This virus is nothing but a tiny cell (so, sac with a lipid bilayer membrane). Inside the sac is nothing but a string of RNA. Embedded in the membrane is a protein. (Well, a bunch of copies of a protein.) This protein has one function: bind to a specific protein on the surface of human lung cells, and when so bound, change shape. When a bunch of these proteins change shape on one side of the virus, the membrane of the virus sac and the membrane of the lung cell merge. This has the effect of dumping what was inside the virus, i.e., the RNA, into the lung cell. (The RNA essentially tells the cell how to make more virus.)

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.

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Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 5th, 2019, 10:51 pm

JamesOfSeattle wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 8:22 pm
Gertie wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 7:16 pm
. Do you have a link or something which might explain how I'm wrong?
To start I would look up (google) teleonomy and/or “Dawkins archeo purpose”

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Can't honestly say I've looked much more deeply - but would this do as the basis of teleonomy which we can go with?

Richard Dawkins described the properties of "archeo-purpose" (by natural selection) and "neo-purpose" (by evolved adaptation) in his talk on the "Purpose of Purpose". Dawkins attributes the brain's flexibility as an evolutionary feature in adapting or subverting goals to making neo-purpose goals on an overarching evolutionary archeo-purpose. Language allows groups to share neo-purposes, and cultural evolution - occurring much faster than natural evolution - can lead to conflict or collaborations.[4]
Here's how I see it.


Archeoteleonomy is simply noting that matter and laws (physics) play out in certain ways such as natural selection, to create eyeballs, wings, etc which increase fitness, and hence pass down those genes. It isn't goal-directed, unless you metaphorically anthropomorphise a gene as having an end result in view which it is striving for.

If you removed the notion of teleonomy from evolution, it would still be fully explained in physical terms. Just as you could explain acorns growing into trees, crystals 'reproducing' via chemistry, waves eroding a seashore, etc. When waves erode a seashore, their purpose isn't to create sand, it's just matter and laws. Like evolution. Hence to call evolution purposeful is to look at it from a particular point of view which evolution itself doesn't have, only we do.


Neoteleonomy via the brain's complex flexibility and adaptability does indeed have the ability to causally subvert simple physical cause-effect processes, hence I can defy gravity by picking up my coffee mug - ta-dah! But so what? The physical processes involved in picking up my coffee mug can presumably in principle be explained by the same scientific physical model of matter and laws - there's just this really super-complicated part going on in physical brain interactions which are too complex to track in the way we can track billiard balls colliding or crystals growing or shorelines eroding.


But basically it all reduces to matter in motion in terms of the physical description. (And then down to the probabilistic subatomic level, tho the tiny differences are evened out to be effectively indiscernible at the classical level). Calling it intrinsically purposeful adds nothing to describing what's going on.


All the above is uncontroversial, I think - would you agree? Just an explanation of how the physical world works at a behavioural level, no need to mention phenomenal experiential states at all. And indeed our standard model doesn't. Particles and forces, that's it.


But we know there's this other thing going on too, this experiencing thing in conscious critters like us. Which provides a parallel, psychological explanation for our behaviour. I feel like I lift the coffee mug to my mouth not (just) because of physics, but because I feel thirsty. I have a reason for this purposeful, goal-oriented action. Being thirsty feels bad, when I drink the coffee I feel better. Purpose, desire, goals, meaning, value are all intrinsic to the psychological explanation of my behaviour. And are all about my subjective attitude to the state of affairs. The teleonomic framing of non-conscious processes offers no explanation for that. No 'bridging mechanism', no more fundamental model of the universe which includes both physical stuff and experiential states, showing how they relate to each other. It's really imo a metaphorical type of framing, analogising from how how we see things, rather than how they are in themselves - crystals growing, eyeballs evolving, shorelines eroding.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by JamesOfSeattle » January 5th, 2019, 11:57 pm

Gertie, if you don’t recognize the difference with respect to teleonomic purpose between an acorn and a rock on the beach, then no, I can’t explain experience, qualia, Consciousness. Ah well.

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Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 6th, 2019, 5:41 am

It's a bit messy, but it's a critique of the significance of teleonomy re consciousness, as regards the difference between an acorn which we conscious critters can describe as having a sort of purpose (to grow into an oak), and a rock which we conscious critters don't think of in those terms.

But both are in principle fully explainable without us adding the notion of purpose to an acorn. They do what they do without invoking purpose.

And that introduces the usual associated physicalist dilemma -

Our physical model which can in principle explain both the rock and acorn, doesn't address consciousness, or the relationship between the physical and mental.



These are objections your explanation would need to address imo.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 6th, 2019, 9:55 am

Gertie wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 5:11 pm
Re 'the identity of indiscernibles' - from my quick reading up there would inevitably be 'relational' differences between any two Subjects or objects, it's kinda tortological eg Original Tam is located north of Replica Tam is a 'relational' property.

But that's a different issue to the intrinsic physical properties of both being identical, as in my thought experiment. And my claim is that if neural correlation holds, then their intrinsic physical identicality would result in identical mental experience.
Only if their physical identity includes a common language. I would put it like this: Similar physical structures of individuals imply their similar structures of consciousness, which makes it possible that they understand each other, which makes it possible that they have a common language. Only in communication, which means some kind of a language, the identity or sameness of a quale can be established. And the similarity of the structures of consciousness need not be perfect to make the identity of qualia perfect, ie. something that each individual can denote in the same way. But a quale is not something that has an "essence" or "quality" outside of language, something that can be compared with another person's quale outside of the community of subjects in their practical doings and talkings with each other. A quale is not a mental "thing" with an absolute "suchness". So, strictly speaking, we cannot speak of identical mental experiences independent of language, only similar mental structures. Those structures do not depend on language, the possibility of language depends on them.

Just some intuitive thoughts about this.

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Felix
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Felix » January 6th, 2019, 2:17 pm

Gertie, Re: "wiki neural correlates of consciousness," the research referenced does not support your hypothesis that "evidence suggests that specific mental experience correlates to specific physical brain states."

James, purpose is the product of design (it's intentional) whereas function presumably is not, you seem to be confusing the two.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 7th, 2019, 4:09 am

Tamminen wrote:
January 6th, 2019, 9:55 am
Gertie wrote:
January 5th, 2019, 5:11 pm
Re 'the identity of indiscernibles' - from my quick reading up there would inevitably be 'relational' differences between any two Subjects or objects, it's kinda tortological eg Original Tam is located north of Replica Tam is a 'relational' property.

But that's a different issue to the intrinsic physical properties of both being identical, as in my thought experiment. And my claim is that if neural correlation holds, then their intrinsic physical identicality would result in identical mental experience.
Only if their physical identity includes a common language. I would put it like this: Similar physical structures of individuals imply their similar structures of consciousness, which makes it possible that they understand each other, which makes it possible that they have a common language. Only in communication, which means some kind of a language, the identity or sameness of a quale can be established. And the similarity of the structures of consciousness need not be perfect to make the identity of qualia perfect, ie. something that each individual can denote in the same way. But a quale is not something that has an "essence" or "quality" outside of language, something that can be compared with another person's quale outside of the community of subjects in their practical doings and talkings with each other. A quale is not a mental "thing" with an absolute "suchness". So, strictly speaking, we cannot speak of identical mental experiences independent of language, only similar mental structures. Those structures do not depend on language, the possibility of language depends on them.

Just some intuitive thoughts about this.
Here's the part where I think we disagree, if I'm understanding you correctly. I believe experiential states certainly do have qualities outside of language. They existed before the language which describes them. There is 'something it is like' for me to experience what I have come to call 'seeing a green apple', regardless of language. I can have a novel new experience I don't have language for or the ability to compare notes - happened all the as I grew up. I had to be taught the corresponding shared language (and then subsequently language itself played a role in how I experience 'seeing a green apple')

But you're right that I can't know for sure that my green isn't your purple (or some experience I can't imagine), I'd say because experience is inherently private to each subject. So the evidence for neural correlation for everyone but me is down to their reports of their experience when this or that part of the brain is similarly active. So I can't know if neural correlation holds in the same way for you. But then all of science is rooted in our shared working model of language and comparing notes, to establish shared/'objective' facts, even tho we can never ultimately know if our agreed facts mean the same to both of us. So it's a fair point, but if we want to take any kind of evidence based approach beyond our own experiential states it's a dilemma we just have to accept and... carry on with that caveat acknowledged I think.

Gertie
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 7th, 2019, 4:11 am

Gertie, Re: "wiki neural correlates of consciousness," the research referenced does not support your hypothesis that "evidence suggests that specific mental experience correlates to specific physical brain states."
We'll just have to agree to disagree then.

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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Belindi » January 7th, 2019, 9:18 am

The vivid quality of awake conscious states feels unlike the theory of brain-mind identity. Nevertheless brain-mind identity accords with all evidence.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 7th, 2019, 9:30 am

Gertie wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 4:09 am
I believe experiential states certainly do have qualities outside of language.
To use my example, Gertie sees only 3 colors a, b and c. Greta sees only 3 colors x, y and z. Gertie's "color space" is (a,b,c). When she sees a red apple, which is of course a real thing in the real world, she sees a. But a has only a "relative quality", relative to the other possible colors b and c. We can say that a is a "variable", waiting for a value. Now if Gertie and Greta see the same red apple, they may come to the conclusion that Gertie's a and Greta's x mean the same thing, the "color" of the object they are looking. Understanding is established, and with it the basis of language, and in language is established the identity a = x = 'red'. So the concept of 'quale' is not as simple as it seems to be at first sight. It has no absolute "quality" or "essence" independent of our living together and communicating in our common real world. As I said, structures of qualia are independent of language, but the qualia themselves get their "objective quality" or "essence" in language. There are no private qualities "in themselves", or private "essences". No private "redness" for instance. We could not compare Gertie's a and Greta's x in any way and say that they denote the same color if Gertie and Greta were like me and my cat (if I had a cat), unable to communicate with each other by means of concepts. But also my cat can see the same red apple as Gertie, Greta and I, and also she may have a relative quality corresponding to our established quality 'red'. We just cannot denote it in our language. And it is not the case that we only do not know if her relative quality is the same as our quality 'red'. There is no "sameness" established yet.

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Consul
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Consul » January 7th, 2019, 6:06 pm

Tamminen wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 9:30 am
As I said, structures of qualia are independent of language, but the qualia themselves get their "objective quality" or "essence" in language. There are no private qualities "in themselves", or private "essences". No private "redness" for instance.
I disagree. Qualia are private in the sense that they are unsharable (as particulars/individuals), unobservable by others, and not (directly) accessible to others. They are also unknowable by others in the sense of knowledge by acquaintance, but they are not unknowable by others in the sense of knowledge by description, because others can indirectly come to know that I am experiencing a certain (kind of) quale, e.g. by observing certain patterns of neural activity in my brain.

Knowledge by Acquaintance vs. Description: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/know ... indescrip/

There is a distinction between phenomenal qualities (qualia) and phenomenal concepts thereof. The former are ways of experiencing (sensing, feeling) and the latter are ways of thinking of ways of experiencing. (Phenomenal predicates are ways of speaking about ways of experiencing.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Consul
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Consul » January 7th, 2019, 8:06 pm

Belindi wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 9:18 am
The vivid quality of awake conscious states feels unlike the theory of brain-mind identity. Nevertheless brain-mind identity accords with all evidence.
Really? What about the introspective evidence against it—which is empirical evidence?

"The introspection argument

Like the appearance/reality argument, the introspection argument has no locus classicus or paramount defender. It too tends to lie beneath the surface of discussions. There is, however, an explicit and highly prominent argument with which it enjoys a certain kinship – Wilfrid Sellars’s grain argument, which maintains that the “grain” or degree of complexity of a qualitative state is quite different than that of any of the physical states with which it is correlated. It is conceivable that Sellars intended to give a version of the introspection argument, but his formulation of the grain argument admits of a variety of interpretations, and anyway, it appears to lack a component that is crucial to the introspection argument, as I shall present it here.

The argument has two main premises. One is the claim that introspection can provide us with no grounds for attributing the sort of mereological and causal complexity to an instance of a qualitative state that is possessed by instances of neural states. Compared to neural states, qualitative states are quite simple. Indeed, their smallest discriminable components seem to be perfectly simple. The other key premise is the view that introspection provides the subject of a qualitative state with full cognitive access to its essential nature. It follows from this view that if a qualitative state Q is identical with a neural state N, and x is the subject of an instance of N, then introspection should provide x with access to the mereological and causal complexity of N. Our subject x should be able to just see that the instance of Q involves an immense number of interacting neurons. Together, these two premises imply that qualitative states are not identical with physical states.

To amplify: When I am attending introspectively to a pain, I am aware of something that appears to resist characterization in terms of neuroscientific concepts. To apply neuroscientific concepts to it would be like applying them to a patch of blue sky. Is it possible to account for this resistance to neuroscientific description by appealing to the difference between appearance and reality? Can we say that pains really do admit of neuroscientific descriptions, but appear not to do so because introspective awareness provides us only with appearances of pains, appearances that fail to attest to their essential natures? Apparently not. For it seems impossible to draw a distinction between the appearance of a pain and the underlying reality. In the case of pains, it seems, the appearance is the reality. Is it possible to account for the resistance to neuroscientific description by pointing out that neuroscientific concepts, like all material concepts, are schematized perceptually – that the rules governing their use prevent us from applying them unless we have a perceptual ground for doing so? It seems that it is possible to account for some of the resistance in this way, but not all of it. Thus, there are concepts that apply to neural states whose content appears to be largely independent of perception – mereological concepts, for example, and purely structural concepts of other kinds. If the property of being a pain just is a certain property of brain states, shouldn’t it be possible, when one is aware of a pain introspectively, to find some basis for a mereological description of the pain that parallels
the mereological description of the corresponding brain state? It is quite tempting to respond affirmatively here. (Here I am assuming that mereological concepts are governed by a logic that is operative in all of their deployments, and that makes it possible for us to grasp mereological relationships in a variety of domains. It is a mistake to think of mereological
concepts as restricted in their use to perceptible phenomena.)

In full dress regalia, the introspection argument comes to this:

First premise: Introspection provides no basis for applying neural concepts to qualitative states. On the contrary, when we are introspectively aware of qualitative states, it seems to us that the objects of awareness have properties, such as the property of being resolvable into minimally discriminable components that are absolutely simple, that preclude the application of neural concepts.

Second premise: Because there is no appearance/reality distinction for qualitative states, introspection provides us with full cognitive access to the essential natures of such states.

Lemma: Accordingly, qualitative states lack the properties that are expressed by neural concepts, and possess positive properties that are incompatible with neural properties.

Third premise: If x has a property that y does not have, then x is not identical with y.

Conclusion: Qualitative states are not identical with neural states (nor, since the argument can be generalized, with physical states of any other kind)."


(Hill, Christopher S. Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. pp. 48-9)

[Note that Hill just describes this argument without defending it himself!]
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Gertie » January 7th, 2019, 10:06 pm

Tam
To use my example, Gertie sees only 3 colors a, b and c. Greta sees only 3 colors x, y and z. Gertie's "color space" is (a,b,c). When she sees a red apple, which is of course a real thing in the real world, she sees a. But a has only a "relative quality", relative to the other possible colors b and c.
The experience Gertie calls ''seeing a red apple'' has intrinsic phenomenal properties of what it's like for Gertie to see a red apple. Being Gertie, I know this for certain! As well 'relative' qualities, which enable her to distinguish the experience of seeing a red apple from what she calls ''seeing a green pear''. And these intrinsic phenomenal qualities exist independently of language. Language came later, and describes the actual properties of the experience.

Now if Gertie and Greta see the same red apple, they may come to the conclusion that Gertie's a and Greta's x mean the same thing, the "color" of the object they are looking. Understanding is established, and with it the basis of language, and in language is established the identity a = x = 'red'.
Right.

So the concept of 'quale' is not as simple as it seems to be at first sight. It has no absolute "quality" or "essence" independent of our living together and communicating in our common real world. As I said, structures of qualia are independent of language, but the qualia themselves get their "objective quality" or "essence" in language. There are no private qualities "in themselves", or private "essences". No private "redness" for instance. We could not compare Gertie's a and Greta's x in any way and say that they denote the same color if Gertie and Greta were like me and my cat (if I had a cat), unable to communicate with each other by means of concepts. But also my cat can see the same red apple as Gertie, Greta and I, and also she may have a relative quality corresponding to our established quality 'red'. We just cannot denote it in our language. And it is not the case that we only do not know if her relative quality is the same as our quality 'red'. There is no "sameness" established yet.

Our shared/'objectively' established concept of what it's like to see red is problematic, because we can only compare notes (eg via language), not directly each other's actual private experience. Where-as my own experiential knowledge of what it's like every time I experience seeing red is real, has particular qualities, is 'directly known', and can never be wrong.


This is because experience is inherently private/subjective and 'directly known'. That's just its nature. If we think of Objective as being Shared agreement on a state of affairs, then if everybody points to the same thing and agrees to call it a red apple, that becomes established as an Objective fact. And we can begin to create a shared/objective model of the world beyond each individual's own experiential states.

But the Subjective/Private nature of experiential states means we can't know if our own experiences really match. Never-the-less it works for us, so we can build coherent shared models of an 'external reality' based on comparing notes.


If you accept what I'm saying, then to say experiential states don't have any properties without language is misleading. In our Shared Model it's a problem knowing if your Private experiences match mine, but that doesn't mean each of our experiences don't have intrinsic properties.

Tamminen
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Re: Qualia as bare difference

Post by Tamminen » January 8th, 2019, 4:56 am

Gertie wrote:
January 7th, 2019, 10:06 pm
If you accept what I'm saying, then to say experiential states don't have any properties without language is misleading. In our Shared Model it's a problem knowing if your Private experiences match mine, but that doesn't mean each of our experiences don't have intrinsic properties.
There is a subtle difference between my view and yours (and perhaps Consul's): you say experiential states have private properties, I say there cannot be such things. There is only a private structure of phenomenal relations, not comparable with others' private structures. See Wittgenstein's "beetle in the box". What do you mean by "properties"? In philosophy, as in ordinary language, we must have some use for the concept 'property' in our "language game". What would it be in this case? Denoting an intrinsic quality somehow? How? I do not mean cats cannot "tell" the difference between red and green objects. And I know what you mean by 'intrinsic properties'.

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