As Simon and I continue our work on the new version of the Representational Qualia Theory statement we branched out into a discussion on whether qualia are or could be based on classical, vs non classical (quantum?) physics/phenomenon. Simon pointed out that the original 'classical' theories were billiard ball's bouncing into each other, according to classical laws of physics. This was turning into a very educational conversation for me. The idea of thinking of this using classical billiard balls really crystallized many of my thoughts, and I wanted to open this conversation up to the public, here, in hopes of getting more input from everyone. The following is the way I think about all this, and I'd like to know what all of you think about thinking of phenomenal properties in this kind of classical billiard ball way.
Simon mentioned he thought the difference between "something has qualia" vs "qualia arise from something" as merely "a bit of a meaning of words thing". But I think there is a subtle difference between these that is critically important to clearly understand and fully model. While talking of redness, Simon said: "We can certainly agree that the surface of the strawberries don't have it." From this he continued on even further with neuronal "Oscillations in electrical potential do not have redness. Our science gives a full description in that respect." and this is where it seems to me things have completely fallen off the track - at least according to the way I currently think of things.
It is true that we can both agree that 'redness' is not a property of the strawberry. But, we must also acknowledge the very real possibility that the surface of the strawberry does have phenomenal properties. As far as "oscillations in electrical potential", these are abstracted words describing the causal properties of electrical potentials of certain sets of matter. These words are mere interpretations of what all is really going on and there is a very real possibility that these types of abstracted words are being miss-interpreted when thinking they do not representing something that could have phenomenal properties. Causal properties of matter are categorically different than phenomenal properties, and this is clearly making the classic mistake of failing to distinguish between the two. In my mind, it is a very real possibility that this stuff does have phenomenal properties, we are just still blind to these properties, or it would be better to say, we could be simply misinterpreting what these "oscillation in electrical potential" are phenomenally like and what all phenomenal properties such might additionally include.
To better get at this idea, I'd like to consider a possibility of how classic billiard balls could have phenomenal properties, and how these properties would be categorically different than their causal properties, and how their phenomenal properties could be miss interpreted. In this thought experiment, let's consider a 3D array of neurons that can each represent or model voxel elements of a 3D volume of space we can see. Say we have a cube of 1000 X 1000 X 1000 such neurons. Each of these neurons can communicate with their neighbors and the dendrites of neurons organized in hierarchical layers of neural networks capable of pattern recognition, leading out of the 3D matrix and providing the hierarchical cognitive meaning of what we are seeing.
Let's model this communication interaction as being accomplished by the neurons firing billiard balls at their neighbors, across synapses. Let's pick 2 neurotransmitters at random as example possibilities, such as glutamate and glycine. Let's say our number 1 billiard balls are made of glutamate and number 2 billiard balls are made of glycine. In this thought experiment when a neuron fires number one billiard balls at its neighbors, the absorption of it is experienced as that voxel element of visual space having the property of redness. Let's say when number 2 billiard balls are fired, we experience a greenness at that location. The most important part of this 'classical' system, is that it is just that. Everything about it, is nothing more than the classical cause and effect operation of synapses we've been observing for the longest time.
Now, let's say we take a bunch of number one billiard balls, and shine some light on them. Let's say the number one balls have a causal property in that they reflect yellow light. And the number 2 balls causally reflect blue light just like normal 1 and 2 billiard balls that are yellow and blue respectively. Of course, if we say we know everything, causally, about the number one balls, and claim that redness isn't one of their properties, we are obviously completely miss interpreting the causal information we are getting or we are blind to what is most important. If we say these number one balls have yellowness, simply since they reflect yellow light and we represent their color with yellow knowledge, we are at least getting closer. Now the only remaining issue required to correctly eff the ineffable, is to get the interpretation right. Rather than thinking the balls are phenomenally like what we represent them with, we must experiment with, discover and reliably map all this out appropriately, according to how we reliably experience them, so we can properly interpret the number one balls that reflect yellow light as having phenomenal redness, and the number 2 balls that reflect blue light as being experienced as having greenness.
Of course, phenomenal reality is not anywhere near this simple, just as classical physics is quite a bit more than simple billiard balls bouncing around. But thinking of classical physics as something like billiard balls bouncing around gives one a powerful intuitive insight into the nature of classical physics. Similarly, thinking of effing of the ineffable in this simplified classical way, helps one gain an intuitive knowledge of what it might mean to eff, ineffable properties of stuff and how it could be done classically, not requiring any physical weirdness or uncertainty.
Let's get back to the subtle difference of saying things like "something has qualia" vs "qualia arise from something". Let's also consider similar possible differences between explaining qualia vs discovering qualia. If you want to 'explain' how we perceive the strawberry patch, you paint or construct the 3d volume space with things that have phenomenal properties. This conscious phenomenal knowledge of the strawberry patch arises from, or can be reduced to, the pallet of myriads of individual phenomenal colors and feels we can experienced in our 3d visual knowledge. But, at the fundamental level, there are irreducible elements that have irreducible phenomenal properties that aren't explained and don't arise from anything, they are simply the fundamental phenomenal building block properties which can be unified together to produce what consciousness is phenomenally like. You don't explain these fundamental irreducible properties as arising from anything, they simply are to be discovered and most importantly, properly interpreted as such. Something like this is what you build consciousness out of, and what it can be reduced to. As long as we consider phenomenal properties as not being among all the causal properties we interpret stuff as having, or thinking they somehow arises from them, we are clearly being blind to and ignoring what they could be phenomenally like.
So, what does everyone think? Is this kind of classic effing thinking worthy of including in Representational Qualia Theory?