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What do we mean by function
Thread Created at Dec 24th 2022, 9:01:06 am | Started by xodarap
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xodarap updated a year ago (Mar 10th 2023, 3:26:10 pm)

This statement: "redness is a quality of some physical object" does not get to the heart of the issue because it presupposes (or seems to) a particular, restricted, use of "physical". The word "object" could also be misconstrued in that common or garden, day to day, usage of the word generally has it denoting something which can be held in the hand, or picked up by a crane or some such. But dynamic logical structures (DLS) exist in the way that rivers exist, and swarms of bees, ant colonies, biological species, your genome, and so forth. All of these things truly exist in what can be termed an active, dialectical, relationship with their respective location and/or context.

Furthermore some of them can be dormant, in abeyance, manifesting either with some regular periodicity or intermittently as the case may be.


As for "redness" or any other quality we perceive/think of, what distinguishes it from "blueness" or any of the other hues and shades is the locations and connectivity of the neurons which embody those DLS which include it. This is not problematic; most human eyes contain retinal cone cells which are sensitive to EM radiation of a restricted frequency range within the spectrum of visible light. Most people's eyes have three types of cone cells with each type being preferentially sensitive to a different characteristic range out of the spectrum. These sensitivity ranges overlap however such that it is the relative strengths of the outputs of these different receptors which are compared and interpreted within the colour processing regions of the brain. Some preprocessing occurs within the retina but the relative positions of the retinal cells are emulated in the visual areas of the cortex, ie the retinal image of each eye is mapped in many regions of the visual cortex.


So, long story short, it is membership of particular cells/mini-columns of the visual cortex within the active coalition of the DLS which endows that DLS with its particular colour quality. And of course somethingverysimilar is what endows other DLS with the qualities of weight, pressure, temperature, taste, odor, timbre, and so forth

Brent_Allsop replied a year ago (Dec 28th 2022, 7:41:35 pm)

But redness is a quality of some physical object.  I don't understand how redness can be a quality of a pattern of interactions.  What kind of "pattern" could have a redness quality, and how would a greenness quality differ from that?  How would you know which pattern has which quality?



xodarap updated a year ago (Mar 10th 2023, 3:03:45 pm)

The term I use is dynamic logical structure (DLS) which means a pattern of interaction amongst a, usually widely distributed, coalition of different neuron groups - ie trans cortical mini columns and the like - for which the respective location and connectivity of each is what embodies their meaning/information content. These coalitions, whilst operating, have active and/or passive causal effects on the rest of the brain in that the logical structure they embody can either trigger or suppress other DLS. Generally speaking we can understand that this is possible/works because/ each of the thousands of neurons contributing to any particlar DLS is also a participant in many other, different DLS. This means that the transient membership of one particular coalition may simply preclude involvement in most of the other DLS but also, if the DLS shares a sufficient number of neurons with another DLS, may lead to the triggering of that other DLS.

My assertion is that we should take each such active DLS to be athing in the universe which affects other such things. I deem this entirely reasonable because the whole purpose of a brain is to make the animal's muscles move in the right way at the right time. As such each DLS should be seen as a discrete behaviour of the brain which has been learned and which is evoked by internally and/or externally arising patterns of stimulation. What we call consciousness is the activation of DLS which embody the updating of one's model of self in the world to include discrepancies between what actually happens instead of the immediately previous predictions embodied in the model which were based on memories. 

As far as I can see this is true of all rememberable subjective experience. The detail of the figurative-qualitative nature of the quale in each case is embodied in the locations and temporal activity sequences of the cortical columns, etc. The degree and nature of salience in each case is embodied in the details of which emotional circuits are entrained.

Brent_Allsop updated a year ago (Dec 25th 2022, 1:49:15 am)

When you say "they exist" for the purpose of representing something, you sound more like a Materialist.  Most functionalists I know say redness can't be anything substrate dependent.  They claim redness "rises" from some "function"  (i.e. a miracle happens here, because it certainly isn't going to be anything like a normal "function" like maybe the square root of 6)  It's just absurd, what the eff could a "redness" function be?  How would you program that.  It's just absurd.

What do you think is responsible for a redness experience?  Do you think such would be objectively observable/detectable?

xodarap updated a year ago (Dec 24th 2022, 9:40:21 am)

Creation of this thread was triggered by the interesting - and welcome - news that the Panexperiencial camp is migrating to become a direct sub-camp of Monism. The email notifying this also mentioned a possible renaming of Panexp.. to 'Qualia are waves'. As long as we are allowed to take the latter camp name as a shortened version of the idea, I think it sounds promising. 

I believe there is a fair amount of useful clarification possible about the terms being used by supporters, both direct and indirect, of the Brain-Mind Identity and Monism camps.

My simple take on the "function" of qualia, is that they exist for the purpose of representing something other than what they are. In other words just like all forms of information they consist of that part or aspect of some structure which represents (ie is about) something other than the structure itself. I maintain that whilst the particular coalition of cells is active, whose overall group activity constitutes the significant information content of the coalition, it exists in the same way that anyting else exists which we might generally take to be a thing in our universe. From discussions elsewhere, mostly philosophy/consciousness related Facebook groups, I have discovered that some people consider that existence per se is not a particularly notable property worth discussing. I find that to be extraordinary if not down-right gobsmacking!