Topic: Theories of Mind and Consciousness

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Representational Qualia

Camp Statement History

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Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory





Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the Google doc draft of Qualia are Physical Qualities being prepared for publication in the Long Island Philosophy Society 2019 Conference.

Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:

  1. The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
  2. The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.

For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.

What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).

The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.



The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : Convert from the JCS paper to the LIPS paper.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory





Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the Google doc draft of A Different Meta Approach to Observing Physical Qualia being prepared for publication in the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:

  1. The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
  2. The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.

For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.

What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).

The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.



The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : Update reference to qualia blind paper to the one to be published in the Journal of Conscious Studies.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory





Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the google doc: “Demonstrating Elemental Qualities of Matter” paper by Brent Allsop.

Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:

  1. The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
  2. The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.

For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.

What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).

The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.



The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : get the title capitalization right. Minor tweak.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory





Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the google doc: “Demonstrating Elemental qualities of matter” paper by Brent Allsop.

Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:

  1. The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
  2. The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.

For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.

What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).

The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.



The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : Get the spacing right.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the google doc: “Demonstrating Elemental qualities of matter” paper by Brent Allsop.
Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:
  1. The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
  2. The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.
For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.
What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).
The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.

The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : No, need to use numbers, 1 and 2, not bullets.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the google doc: “Demonstrating Elemental qualities of matter” paper by Brent Allsop.
Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:
  • The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).

  • The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.

In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.
For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.
What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).
The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.

The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : get the bullet's right.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia, in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. When a strawberry is the target of our perception, the perception process is initiated when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light. The final result is our knowledge, which is a 3D model of the strawberry constructed by our brain out of phenomenal qualities or qualia like redness and greenness. The strawberry reflects red light. We perceive redness. Since this theory predicts qualia are physical things in our brain, we should be able to detect them. We cannot currently, only because our current methods of observing physical reality are “qualia blind”. Qualia blindness is fully described in the google doc: “Demonstrating Elemental qualities of matter” paper by Brent Allsop.
Briefly, we are qualia blind, because we are culturally trained to perceive reality in an abstracted way. The only information we have about the true nature of physics, is abstract representations of such. Think of the word “strawberry”. Do you taste it? What color is it? How does it smell? None of these come from the string of letters we put together to describe it. Words are abstractions of experience. Red light is not a redness experience. We are qualia blind when we confuse abstracted representations (like the word “red”) for the experience of redness. Confusion between these two important and very distinct concepts is common:
The physical properties that are the target of our observation, the initial cause of the perception process (i.e. when the strawberry reflects 650 nm (red) light).
The physical properties of the final results of the perception process, our conscious knowledge of a red strawberry in our brain we experience as redness.
In other words, this theory predicts there is some set of physics, possibly some we already abstractly know all about, that is the physics of the redness we experience. Each sub camp is predicting various candidates for the physical properties we experience as redness.
For example, “Representational Functionalism” predicts “functionality” is primal, and that a redness qualia can “arise” from many physically different computational systems correctly implementing the “redness” functionality. “Representative Materialism”, on the other hand predicts that physical matter is primal - without the right matter, no redness.
What “Representational Qualia Theory” provides is a way to falsify various theories of experience described in each subcamp. The last theory standing then becomes “the one” (until it is falsified, or another better one comes along). For example, a prediction that glutamate reacting in a synapse is what we experience as redness is falsifiable; If anyone experiencing redness without glutamate, the theory is falsified. (Note; “glutamate” is used only as an example, and it is not important what redness really is, except to say that it is some measurable, and consistent thing) We simply must test for multiple possibilities, including all the theories described in all subcamps, using the non qualia blind methods described in this paper, until we find a theory that describes qualia in a way that holds in all experimental cases, and is thereby consistent (not falsified).
The Representational Qualia super-camp predicts that once experiments are performed in a non qualia blind way, they will soon discover what qualia are - enabling the objective discovery of things like two people possessing inverted qualia (see image below). If this is achieved, we will finally have bridged the “explanatory gap”, pierced the “veil of perception”, and falsified all theories of consciousness except the one.

The qualitative understanding of all other consciousness, and what it is all like, will just be ever more complex and subtle variations on the same qualitative method of not being qualia blind.

Note : Rewrite statement, linking to qualia blindness paper.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Camp Statement

Representational Qualia Theory asserts that qualia are (or are derived from) our internal representations. It opposes theories that suggest qualia are properties of what we are perceiving or that they arise directly from those properties. Instead, we are only aware of our internal representation of the objects we perceive, and we are not aware of the objects themselves.
For example, when we look at a strawberry that reflects light with approximately 650nm wavelength, our brain builds a model of the strawberry to correspond with the stereoscopic information observed by our eyes. This model is our awareness of this strawberry and any phenomenal properties we experience are part of (or are derived from) this model.
Whether the strawberry has any kind of phenomenal properties, or not, is something that cannot be determined via cause and effect observation. The "red" that we see is how our mind models the physical causal property of reflecting light with certain wavelengths. Consequently, the possibility of inverted qualia as portrayed in the below image, is predicted by this theory. For example, my redness could be your greenness, if my mind builds the same representation for green light as your mind build for red light. Alternatively, my redness could be something you've never experienced before in your life (unless some other factor, such as similar genes causing our brains to develop in similar ways, ensures that our minds represent "red" in the same manner, as seems likely).


People often imagine that the redness of the strawberry amongst the greenness of the leaves is in the scene before them, and that we are directly aware of such colors, but this is a mistaken view - an optimization selected by nature. We typically think that redness is a property of the strawberry, when in fact it is only a property of our knowledge and representation of the strawberry. Since the representative models in our head lack complete notions of physics, they substitute "phenomenal redness" for the more complex causal property of reflecting light with a 650nm wavelength.
In other words, this theory predicts our minds contain a complete model of everything we consciously know about the world and reality. This is the very definition of what it means to "know about", or be "aware of" such things. An important part of this modeled (represented) world is our body-image. When you stub your toe, the pain is in your representation of the toe, not in your real toe. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.

Effing the Ineffable

If another person's quale could be inverted from, or possibly completely different than anything we've ever experienced, this impels the question, might there be some way to know. If we are observing whatever it is that is responsible for something like redness, and if it appears 'grey' to us, obviously we're miss interpreting what we are perceiving. This has been referred to as the "Quale Interpretation Problem". Overcoming this problem has been referred to as "effing" the ineffable.
The various sub camps of this Representational Qualia Theory camp unanimously agree that in various ways consistent with the predictions of each camp, there will be some way to know what other's qualia are like, as surely as we know what our own qualia are like, and how they are different.
Some people have troubles accepting the idea of effing the ineffable because they think everything we experience with something like 'redness' is inseparable from that redness 'quale'. They think of the emotion, the anticipation of the sweet taste, warmth, memory of love, and so on are all inseparable from what a redness quale is. Some even think of all of consciousness as one single quale. Given this, they believe the only way to know what someone else's quale is like, is to completely become them, or a significant part of them - which would not be possible without becoming something drastically different than their personal quale.
However there is lots of evidence that everything we can experience as associated with qualia, can be separated from just a raw quality of redness. For example, there is Associative Agnosia, where people experience raw qualia without any other cognitive information along with it. Another example is some people will know they are looking at something white, but they won't know what it is, even when it is something as recognizable as a white house. Blindsight, in some ways, is the opposite. People have the cognitive information that is normally bound to a red ball they might be able to catch - however the visual redness of the ball is completely missing from their cognitive knowledge. Psychonauts experimenting with psychedelic drugs also describe drug induced 'trips' where everything in their mind completely dissociates, and is no longer unified together. While it is true, that one's experience of all of consciousness is a very complex phenomenal 'painting' - and to entirely duplicate the entire painted experience, would require far more than just 'effing' something like a raw redness quality our brain may use to paint one small part of consciousness experience with.

Physical Law of Information

Shannon Information Theory[1] is the idea that you cannot have information content greater than that which is physically represented. We consider this to be a law. Given this, representations of some sort are responsible for every idea, impression, and feeling that occurs in the human mind. It is impossible, therefore, to experience a quale without forming a corresponding representation somewhere within our consciousness. The difference between the "redness" of a strawberry and its causal property of reflecting 650 nm light is exactly the difference between our mental representation of the strawberry and the physical strawberry.

Homunculus Argument

Some people still have troubles accepting representationalism because of the "Homunculus Argument" (aka "Cartesian Theater"). In order for an AI system to think or talk intelligently about anything, including itself, it must have something in ram representing all this knowledge enabling such intelligence. Nobody says there must be a robot perceiver perceiving this knowledge. We predict this knowledge in our head, for the same reasons, does not need an additional 'perceiver'. This knowledge in our head, including knowledge of us perceiving it, is just what we, the perceiver know.

The only position asserted in this camp is that subjective experiences of qualia are mental constructs that are formed to represent perceived properties of things in the physical world. More specific claims about the nature of qualia, whether qualia can be epiphenomenal, the possible existence of dual phenomenal properties, theories about the nature or formation of representative models, and so forth are all made in child camps. In order to describe the assertions of this camp, we defined "qualia" very broadly as the subjective experiences that we feel like we have, for whatever reason. The precise definition of qualia, however, is not an essential part of many philosophical disagreements. Thus, by remaining very broad in its definition of qualia, this camp is compatible with a wide variety of theories, from Daniel Dennett's theory that qualia is partly illusory Explained P. 375, to the various theories that imply that qualia arises from something else, non illusory, beyond the structure and function of traditional physics example see David Chalmers, [http://consc.net/papers/facing.pdf "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness".

How to find the right child camp

The following Q&A may help readers find the right camp:
1- If a tree falls in the woods and no one is present, does it make a sound? (Obviously, it makes compression waves that pass through the air. By "sound", we mean the phenomenal experience that occurs when people hear sound.) Yes, the phenomenal properties of sound are part of the compression waves. Representational Qualia Theory probably is not the right camp for you. You might consider checking out some of the competing peer camps. No, phenomenal experiences only occur within the human mind after human senses are stimulated by some physical interaction. Yep, you belong within this camp. Continue to #2.
2- In order to create experiences of qualia, do our brains need to do anything more than manipulate abstract information using currently-known causal physics? Yes, qualia requires either some kind of phenomenal information (which differs from the abstract information used by a typical computer), or some kind of phenomenal operation (which differ from the operations performed by a typical computer) in order to create qualia. You sound like a property dualist (which is a child-camp of this camp). No, a representation comprised of only abstract information, and created only using only the operations available to a turing machine, is sufficient to represent an awareness of having experienced qualia, and having such awareness is what constitutes an experience of qualia. You are probably a representational functionalist (which is a child-camp of this camp).

Note : Impreove "Effing the Ineffable" section.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Camp Statement

Representational Qualia Theory asserts that qualia are (or are derived from) our internal representations. It opposes theories that suggest qualia are properties of what we are perceiving or that they arise directly from those properties. Instead, we are only aware of our internal representation of the objects we perceive, and we are not aware of the objects themselves.
For example, when we look at a strawberry that reflects light with approximately 650nm wavelength, our brain builds a model of the strawberry to correspond with the stereoscopic information observed by our eyes. This model is our awareness of this strawberry and any phenomenal properties we experience are part of (or are derived from) this model.
Whether the strawberry has any kind of phenomenal properties, or not, is something that cannot be determined via cause and effect observation. The "red" that we see is how our mind models the physical causal property of reflecting light with certain wavelengths. Consequently, the possibility of inverted qualia as portrayed in the below image, is predicted by this theory. For example, my redness could be your greenness, if my mind builds the same representation for green light as your mind build for red light. Alternatively, my redness could be something you've never experienced before in your life (unless some other factor, such as similar genes causing our brains to develop in similar ways, ensures that our minds represent "red" in the same manner, as seems likely).


People often imagine that the redness of the strawberry amongst the greenness of the leaves is in the scene before them, and that we are directly aware of such colors, but this is a mistaken view - an optimization selected by nature. We typically think that redness is a property of the strawberry, when in fact it is only a property of our knowledge and representation of the strawberry. Since the representative models in our head lack complete notions of physics, they substitute "phenomenal redness" for the more complex causal property of reflecting light with a 650nm wavelength.
In other words, this theory predicts our minds contain a complete model of everything we consciously know about the world and reality. This is the very definition of what it means to "know about", or be "aware of" such things. An important part of this modeled (represented) world is our body-image. When you stub your toe, the pain is in your representation of the toe, not in your real toe. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.

Effing the Ineffable

If another person's quale could be inverted from, or possibly completely different than anything we've ever experienced, this impels the question, might there be some way to know. The various sub camps of this Representational Qualia Theory camp unanimously agree that in various ways consistent with the predictions of each camp, there will be some way to know what other's qualia are like, as surely as we know what our own qualia are like, and how they are different.
Some people have troubles accepting the idea of effing the ineffable because they think everything we experience with something like 'redness' is inseparable from that redness 'quale'. They think of the emotion, the anticipation of the sweet taste, warmth, memory of love, and so on are all inseparable from what a redness quale is. Some even think of all of consciousness as one single quale. Given this, they believe the only way to know what someone else's quale is like, is to completely become them, or a significant part of them - which would not be possible without becoming something drastically different than their personal quale.
However there is lots of evidence that everything we can experience as associated with qualia, can be separated from just a raw quality of redness. For example, there is Associative Agnosia, where people experience raw qualia without any other cognitive information along with it. Another example is some people will know they are looking at something white, but they won't know what it is, even when it is something as recognizable as a white house. Blindsight, in some ways, is the opposite. People have the cognitive information that is normally bound to a red ball they might be able to catch - however the visual redness of the ball is completely missing from their cognitive knowledge. Psychonauts experimenting with psychedelic drugs also describe drug induced 'trips' where everything in their mind completely dissociates, and is no longer unified together. While it is true, that one's experience of all of consciousness is a very complex phenomenal 'painting' - and to entirely duplicate the entire painted experience, would require far more than just 'effing' something like a raw redness quality our brain may use to paint one small part of consciousness experience with.

Physical Law of Information

Shannon Information Theory[1] is the idea that you cannot have information content greater than that which is physically represented. We consider this to be a law. Given this, representations of some sort are responsible for every idea, impression, and feeling that occurs in the human mind. It is impossible, therefore, to experience a quale without forming a corresponding representation somewhere within our consciousness. The difference between the "redness" of a strawberry and its causal property of reflecting 650 nm light is exactly the difference between our mental representation of the strawberry and the physical strawberry.

Homunculus Argument

Some people still have troubles accepting representationalism because of the "Homunculus Argument" (aka "Cartesian Theater"). In order for an AI system to think or talk intelligently about anything, including itself, it must have something in ram representing all this knowledge enabling such intelligence. Nobody says there must be a robot perceiver perceiving this knowledge. We predict this knowledge in our head, for the same reasons, does not need an additional 'perceiver'. This knowledge in our head, including knowledge of us perceiving it, is just what we, the perceiver know.

The only position asserted in this camp is that subjective experiences of qualia are mental constructs that are formed to represent perceived properties of things in the physical world. More specific claims about the nature of qualia, whether qualia can be epiphenomenal, the possible existence of dual phenomenal properties, theories about the nature or formation of representative models, and so forth are all made in child camps. In order to describe the assertions of this camp, we defined "qualia" very broadly as the subjective experiences that we feel like we have, for whatever reason. The precise definition of qualia, however, is not an essential part of many philosophical disagreements. Thus, by remaining very broad in its definition of qualia, this camp is compatible with a wide variety of theories, from Daniel Dennett's theory that qualia is partly illusory Explained P. 375, to the various theories that imply that qualia arises from something else, non illusory, beyond the structure and function of traditional physics example see David Chalmers, [http://consc.net/papers/facing.pdf "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness".

How to find the right child camp

The following Q&A may help readers find the right camp:
1- If a tree falls in the woods and no one is present, does it make a sound? (Obviously, it makes compression waves that pass through the air. By "sound", we mean the phenomenal experience that occurs when people hear sound.) Yes, the phenomenal properties of sound are part of the compression waves. Representational Qualia Theory probably is not the right camp for you. You might consider checking out some of the competing peer camps. No, phenomenal experiences only occur within the human mind after human senses are stimulated by some physical interaction. Yep, you belong within this camp. Continue to #2.
2- In order to create experiences of qualia, do our brains need to do anything more than manipulate abstract information using currently-known causal physics? Yes, qualia requires either some kind of phenomenal information (which differs from the abstract information used by a typical computer), or some kind of phenomenal operation (which differ from the operations performed by a typical computer) in order to create qualia. You sound like a property dualist (which is a child-camp of this camp). No, a representation comprised of only abstract information, and created only using only the operations available to a turing machine, is sufficient to represent an awareness of having experienced qualia, and having such awareness is what constitutes an experience of qualia. You are probably a representational functionalist (which is a child-camp of this camp).

Note : Newst version after "Representational Functionalism" split
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Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Our working hypothesis is that redness is not a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or the initial cause of a perception process. It is, instead, a property of the final result of a perception process. The world finally fully realizing this will be far more significant than when they switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This could lead to the most significant scientific revolution of all time. The early significant lead this collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others is exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we might have already made considerable progress in this direction.
Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. If you know something, there must be something that is that knowledge. If you know lots of phenomenal stuff like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of some leaves, and cognitive information about how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the same world of awareness that we experience.

Quale Interpretation Problem


All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based senses does so in the abstract. This type of abstract information suffers from a "Quale Interpretation Problem". This problem is why redness is ineffable. The cause and effect way this type of abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses has three important related (dis) functionalities:
  1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as long as it is interpreted properly.
  2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.
  3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and simulation devices. If you are going to represent information, you must have some media which can assume distinguishable states. Abstracted information being communicated someplace is, by nature of its design, only concerned with detectible and distinguishable causal local properties of the media. Regardless of what the properties of this media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is your interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information being represented. External abstract information has nothing to do with what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally like, either phenomenally or behaviourally. With the design of whatever represents red in a computer (say red is 1 and green is 0), the only important thing is that whatever is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, and that such differences be interpreted properly so the machines abstract algorithms can pick the items represented by ones, while avoiding the zeros. The process of interpreting abstracted representations is a local process isolated from the information and abstract algorithms being processed on them.
While with consciousness, what redness and greenness are like and how they are different in phenomenally motivating ways is a critical part of our conscious knowledge and is what enables us to consciously distinguish between different things so that we can choose the red over the green. These properties must have some way of being bound together and integrated with our cognitive reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on. If we used traditional cause and effect observation that suffers from the "Quale Interpretation Problem", in order to examine the surface of the brain, or even to examine individual neurons and groups of neurons, and by this means we managed to observe the physical correlate for redness, we might ourselves only observe grey light reflected from these surfaces. However, it would be incorrect to interpret the subjective experience as grayness rather than redness.
If we are going to make any progress towards explaining consciousness, we must do more than just this. We must first have a clear understanding that there is more than just causal properties we should be looking for and understand this "Quale Interpretation Problem". We must understand just "what" to look for – qualia, "where" to look for it – a property of a neural correlate and finally "how" to look for it – via effing the ineffable or some type of repeatable and sharable binding or grounding process. The longer nuts and bolts neural researchers only do the former, and only focus on abstracted and incorrectly interpreted causal properties of neurons, the longer they will continue to have success regarding causal behaviour, but fail to achieve what could arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, in uncovering the relationship of the phenomenal properties to the neural correlates. This discovery includes the mapping and sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the behavioural properties we already know so much about, and with it the discovery of what physics is phenomenally like.

Reduction of unified complex knowledge to fundamental qualia


The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge (B) correlating to an external physical object. Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology (A) and visual epistemology (B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property such as the surface of a strawberry reflecting 650 nm light. But this usage is ambiguous referring to both the property of an object reflecting 650 nm light and to the correlated but physically quite separate process of the phenomenal experience redness in the brain. It is possible to add a red/green inverter anywhere in the perception process of a strawberry patch. Whenever you do this, the still reflecting 650 nm light strawberry is then being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves are represented with phenomenal red. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, and other visual brain states can also be composed of phenomenal red even when there is no 650 nm light coming to our retinas from the external world.

We think that the redness of the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations only arise after the perception process, in the model of a unified conscious world* perceived by us as our knowledge of everyday reality.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world model in our brain is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, but remains in the unified phenomenal world of our conscious awareness.

Effing the Ineffable


Since this theory predicts that redness is not a property of the strawberry, but instead a property of our knowledge of such, we are faced with a communication problem. Currently we can't know if my redness is anything like yours or anyone else's redness. How can we eff that which is ineffable?
If this theory is borne out, and we achieve any kind of ability to reliably predict just what it is that has redness, we'll be able to do things like use our traditional instruments to detect the same thing going on in others' brains. Any such would provide us tools to ground our abstract communication so that it could become phenomenally meaningful between brains.
As an example, we could look for whatever it is that we reliably know has person A's redness in person B's brain. Then we could say to person B that this is person A's red. To which person B might say something like, 'No, that is my green', or maybe, 'Yes, that is very similar to my red', or any of many other possible responses that would enable us to map out and communicate, in a predictably reliable way, at least some of the more obvious differences between our brains.
This would be a kind of weak effing of the ineffable, which can be achieved via any ability we may achieve to reliably observe whatever it is that has redness and ground what we mean by abstract words in such a personally experiencable way as this. The next section describes 2 stronger types of effing the ineffable.

Gamma Synchrony, the Binding Problem and the Unity of Consciousness: Strongly Effing the Ineffable


When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision), we are aware of them at the same time. This unified phenomenal world, which bridges the corpus callosum, unifies vision into a conscious whole, in which we can compare and contrast their phenomenal differences.
Studies show that conscious percepts correlate to different types of brain activity from unconscious percepts. In particular consciousness is demonstrated to correlate with synchronisation of gamma oscillations in widely separated neural assemblies, whereas unconscious signals correlate only to local synchrony. The 30-80 Hz oscillation of neuronal spiking known as the gamma wave can become synchronised across the brain. It is suggested that the synchronisation of widely distributed neuronal activity meets some of the requirements for explaining how conscious experience arises.
It is proposed that spatially separated neuronal assemblies are bound together by signalling between them. Neurons are known to be synchronised into coherent assemblies, and these assemblies are suggested to signal the presence or absence of particular features in them to other assemblies. This process is suggested to give rise to a distributed representation of an object or an environment. Neuronal assemblies form and dissolve rapidly, which could account for the easy shifting of consciousness from one focus to another.
Synchronisation allows better control of interactions between neurons. The excitatory inputs are seen to be effective if they arrive at the depolarising slope of a neuronal oscillation cycle, but are ineffective at other times. This means that groups of neurons that oscillate in synchrony will be able to signal to one another, and groups that are out of synchrony will be ignored. This mechanism can function within neural assemblies, but also between spatially separated assemblies.
Studies suggest that local processing is unconscious, whereas large scale activity such as reciprocal signalling between neural assemblies is a correlate of consciousness. It is these latter that can establish the global coordination that is correlated to consciousness. It is proposed that masking is a good way of studying consciousness, because this allows the same stimuli to either be used in unconscious brain processing, or to be translated into phenomenally experienced brain states, depending on how long the signal is sustained for (probably +/- 30 ms). In one study words could be perceived in some trials but not in others. Local gamma synchronisation was similar in both cases, but with consciously perceived words there was a burst of long-distance gamma synchrony. Melloni, L. et al , 2007, Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L. 2007, Melloni, L. & Woolf, S
Whatever the relationship between gamma synchrony and consciousness, this spatially extended synchrony does appear to provide a plausible explanation of how conscious perceptions are unified. The redness of fruit in one neuronal assembly is synchronised with the greenness of leaves in another assembly, the blueness of the sky in still another, plus the humming of bees and song of birds in the more spatially distant but still synchronised assemblies of the auditory cortex.
Given that in principle anything physical can be built, in the long run, this theory predicts it will be possible to discover and use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere-like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. This second type of effing is more flexible or wide ranging than the form mentioned earlier. With the first type, if you wanted to eff a particular quale, say your red which is another person's green, you'd have to hope you could reproduce and observe such in the target brain, so that the other person would experience what you were describing. But if the other person had never experienced the quale you were describing, or their brain was not capable of experiencing it, then the augmentation described above would be necessary
The possibility of a third type of effing is suggested by the ideas of V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein. They were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia in 1997. They pointed out that if you were colour blind and a cable was run from the V4 area of someone else's brain into your brain, then perhaps you would suddenly have the experience of colour which would be an example of effing the ineffable. This cable would need to unify the same phenomenal information that we discuss above in respect of the global gamma synchrony. This leads on to the possibility of an actual merger or mixture of minds that experience the same representations of the world.

Different Types of Effing


  1. Weak: Having reliable maps of whatever neural correlates reliably have a particular quale. Then observing such in other minds via any traditional cause and effect methods. Then informing the person experiencing such what others use that quale for.
  2. Stronger: Augmenting someone's brain with capabilities to experience phenomenal experience the person's brain wasn't previously capable of producing.
  3. Strongest: Joining minds together with something that can do what the corpus callosum does, when merging conscious knowledge in both hemispheres of the brain. In other words merging two brains so two minds can experience the same qualia.

Any such method where two brains can experience the same quale is clearly the strongest of the 3 types of effing. While with only the first two types, it might be possible for skeptics to still doubt the existence of the external world, or other minds, by seriously violating Occam's razor in even more extreme ways than the Brain in a Vat idea. If science demonstrated the third type where two people are experiencing the same qualia, such could be extended to provide absolute proof of other minds and a real external world, and most importantly of all, what they and it are all phenomenally like, or not. Possibly with the first, and surely with either the 2nd or 3rd methods being achieved by science, as all predicted here, it will effectively falsify Nagel's famous hypothesis that it would never be possible to experience the qualia of a bat You'll never know what it's like to be a bat, Nagel, 1974 and any other of the many theories predicting there is no such thing as qualia or that effing will never be possible. Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article.

Choice, Preference and the Emotional Brain: The Turing Test Isn't Enough


Certain aspects of emotional processing appear to be basis of choice and preference. As something that is not replicated in classical computing, they look to be the best way of distinguishing a conscious entity. Emotional processing in the brain revolves round a system of 'rewards' and 'punishers'. Representations of the external world are produced in the cortex, but these are initially neutral in terms of reward value, until they are projected to other regions, and particularly the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal is thought to encode the relative value of rewards. It responds more strongly to sensory inputs related to rewards than to neutral stimuli. Thus it responds more to the pressure of velvet than the pressure of wood.
In particular, studies show that the level of orbitofrontal activity correlates to the subjective pleasantness of sensations rather than the strength of the signal being received Rolls et al 2003c, 2003d, Anderson et al, 2003. In responding to a face, activity increases in line with the subjectively assessed attractiveness of the face. The orbitofrontal also process shifts in preferences. In a choice of apples and carrots, apples may be preferred, but when bananas are added, the preference can shift to bananas. Thus some aspects of orbitofrontal processing could be argued to make sense only in terms of qualia, rather than any form of non-conscious communication from the external world. The orbitofrontal can be seen as a brain region that creates a common neural currency that weigh up the qualia of differing rewards, or even of rewards that have no common characteristic such as holiday or a healthy bank balance.
The orbitofrontal projects to the subcortical basal ganglia, a region that lies upstream of actions and behaviour. The orbitofrontal also project to the dorsolateral frontal seen as the executive and long-term planning region of the brain. The basal ganglia integrate the reward assessment of the orbitofrontal, plus inputs from many other parts of the cortex, the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system. The basal ganglia appear to act as a form of mixer-tap for a wide spread of inputs. Dopamine and other neuromodulators play a role in the delivery of the qualia of subjective reward in the nucleus accumbens, itself part of the basal ganglia.
It is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another's consciousness is through a "Turing Test", rooted as this test is in the more limited mid-twentieth century knowledge of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. To phenomenally know the nature of qualia, the most important question to ask is something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must have some way to get around the quale interpretation problem while observing the mechanisms of their brain.
If you ask an intelligent system that is based on abstract knowledge what its red knowledge is phenomenally like, depending on the level of self-referential information it has access to, it could reply that it is an abstracted knowledge based system in which the information is represented by, doesn't matter. It might provide some information about the specifics such as, red is represented with 0xFF0000, revealing depth and resolution information about its knowledge and so on. Some people might consider such system to be a non-phenomenal 'zombie' that could behave identically to a phenomenal system as far as easily picking red strawberries goes. Despite such, if it demands something like 'red is a property of the surface of a strawberry', it will simply be revealing its stupidity, or if it is smarter than that, and claiming it is a phenomenal system, perhaps in line with its attempt to pass a Turing test, it will be lying.
And if it is really smart, like some humans are now becoming, it will be able to learn what a phenomenally wonderful and rewarding quality red is, what it is a property of, and that effing is required to communicate and be aware of such. Like intelligent humans that want to know what other's red is like, it will want to know what red is like for us. It will likely start looking for ways to eff such ineffable knowledge to itself, so it too can experience the same wonderful stuff and finally phenomenally say: "oh THAT is what red is like for you!". An example from Sci-Fi includes Commander Data in Star Trek, who is often asking about and seeking after obviously valuable phenomenal things.

Problems with other working hypothesis


Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogiston, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
  "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
  something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
  that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
  observe about life, or to use another example reductive
  physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
  light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
  the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
  ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" Consciousness Explained P. 375. The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations of something else is irrelevant.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every quale is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. The key thing to grasp is that the qualia, subjective experience, or the fact that looking at a strawberry does seem like something rather than either nothing or a string of 0s and 1s is a brain state. It usually correlates to particular oscillations in the external world but bears little or no resemblance to them. Philosophers who say that we only seem to have the qualia of red strawberries miss the point or make a category error in that it is the seeming bit that they need to explain. If they are scientifically literate they already know that the qualia bear little actual resemblance to the external object.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process.
This is a very brief list of issues present here. Steve Lehar has a much more comprehensive review of the history of the epistemological debate, and the various problems and confusions that have and still do exist, working from an assumption that representational qualia theory is correct. This comprehensive academic presentation is contained in his "A History of the Epistemological Debate" section of his "The Function of Conscious Experience" paper. It includes the following:
   "The critical realists all agreed on the fact that the sense
    data are independent of the object of perception itself.
    However the question of whether the sense data are part
   of the mind, or whether they are aspects of the external
   object is one on which critical realists differed in subtle
   ways. In a book on critical realism by a consortium of
   authors, Lovejoy, Pratt and Sellars claim that the senses
   are completely "the character of the mental existent ….
   although its existence is not given", whatever that might
   possibly mean, while Drake, Rogers, Santayana and Strong
   agree that the data are characteristic of the apprehended
   object, although "the datum is qua datum, a mere essence,
   an inputed but not necessarily actually existent. It may or
   may not have existence", whatever that might possibly
   mean. So the critical realists solved the problem of
   sense-data by defining a unique kind of existent, which may
   either be part of the external object, or of the internal
   mental state, but in any case it has a status
   of quasi-existence, which supposedly escapes the problems
   inherent in identifying it explicitly as either an internal or
   external entity. Epistemological confusion inevitably leads
   to a confused philosophy." 


What will the future be like if this theory turns out to be the one ?


Our brains and brain states are private from those of others, and give a first person experience, whereas what comes from other peoples' brains is public and third person. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of us, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behaviour of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about the behaviour of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science could be on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause-and-effect observation phenomenal properties that could enable technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behaviour. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

References:
1.) Rolls et al, 2003c
2.) Rolls et al 2003d
3.) Anderson et al, 2003 – Dissociated neural representations of intensity and valence in human olfaction - Nature Neuroscience, 6, pp. 196-203
4.) Melloni, L. et al, 2007 - Synchronisation of cortical activity across cortical areas correlates with conscious perception - Journal of Neuroscience, 27, pp. 2858-65
5.) Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L., 2007 - Non-perceived stimuli elicit local but not large scale neural synchrony - Perception, 36, (ECVP Abstract Supplement)
6.) Memory, Attention and Decision-Making - Edmund T. Rolls, Chapter 3, pp. 113-129 New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness - Chapter 2, pp. 17-26 – Lucia Melloni & Wolf Singer
7.) Dennett, Daniel, 1991 – Consciousness Explained, Brown and Co.
8.) Nagel, T. 1974 __ What is it like to be a bat? ___ Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50
9.) http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997.

More Info:
  • Steven Lehar, an early leader in the [1] Mind Experts topic maintains The Representationalism Web Site.
  • In Nov. 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense –Datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-Datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.
  • There is a canonized list of the most favourite publications about representational qualia theory here
  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escape from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop

*Note: It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of, the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Remove Property Dualism Section. (Pushing to lower camp)
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Our working hypothesis is that redness is not a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or the initial cause of a perception process. It is, instead, a property of the final result of a perception process. The world finally fully realizing this will be far more significant than when they switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This could lead to the most significant scientific revolution of all time. The early significant lead this collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others is exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we might have already made considerable progress in this direction.
Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. If you know something, there must be something that is that knowledge. If you know lots of phenomenal stuff like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of some leaves, and cognitive information about how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the same world of awareness that we experience.

Quale Interpretation Problem


All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based senses does so in the abstract. This type of abstract information suffers from a "Quale Interpretation Problem". This problem is why redness is ineffable. The cause and effect way this type of abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses has three important related (dis) functionalities:
  1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as long as it is interpreted properly.
  2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.
  3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and simulation devices. If you are going to represent information, you must have some media which can assume distinguishable states. Abstracted information being communicated someplace is, by nature of its design, only concerned with detectible and distinguishable causal local properties of the media. Regardless of what the properties of this media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is your interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information being represented. External abstract information has nothing to do with what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally like, either phenomenally or behaviourally. With the design of whatever represents red in a computer (say red is 1 and green is 0), the only important thing is that whatever is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, and that such differences be interpreted properly so the machines abstract algorithms can pick the items represented by ones, while avoiding the zeros. The process of interpreting abstracted representations is a local process isolated from the information and abstract algorithms being processed on them.
While with consciousness, what redness and greenness are like and how they are different in phenomenally motivating ways is a critical part of our conscious knowledge and is what enables us to consciously distinguish between different things so that we can choose the red over the green. These properties must have some way of being bound together and integrated with our cognitive reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on. If we used traditional cause and effect observation that suffers from the "Quale Interpretation Problem", in order to examine the surface of the brain, or even to examine individual neurons and groups of neurons, and by this means we managed to observe the physical correlate for redness, we might ourselves only observe grey light reflected from these surfaces. However, it would be incorrect to interpret the subjective experience as grayness rather than redness.
If we are going to make any progress towards explaining consciousness, we must do more than just this. We must first have a clear understanding that there is more than just causal properties we should be looking for and understand this "Quale Interpretation Problem". We must understand just "what" to look for – qualia, "where" to look for it – a property of a neural correlate and finally "how" to look for it – via effing the ineffable or some type of repeatable and sharable binding or grounding process. The longer nuts and bolts neural researchers only do the former, and only focus on abstracted and incorrectly interpreted causal properties of neurons, the longer they will continue to have success regarding causal behaviour, but fail to achieve what could arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, in uncovering the relationship of the phenomenal properties to the neural correlates. This discovery includes the mapping and sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the behavioural properties we already know so much about, and with it the discovery of what physics is phenomenally like.

Reduction of unified complex knowledge to fundamental qualia


The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge (B) correlating to an external physical object. Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology (A) and visual epistemology (B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property such as the surface of a strawberry reflecting 650 nm light. But this usage is ambiguous referring to both the property of an object reflecting 650 nm light and to the correlated but physically quite separate process of the phenomenal experience redness in the brain. It is possible to add a red/green inverter anywhere in the perception process of a strawberry patch. Whenever you do this, the still reflecting 650 nm light strawberry is then being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves are represented with phenomenal red. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, and other visual brain states can also be composed of phenomenal red even when there is no 650 nm light coming to our retinas from the external world.

We think that the redness of the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations only arise after the perception process, in the model of a unified conscious world* perceived by us as our knowledge of everyday reality.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world model in our brain is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, but remains in the unified phenomenal world of our conscious awareness.

Effing the Ineffable


Since this theory predicts that redness is not a property of the strawberry, but instead a property of our knowledge of such, we are faced with a communication problem. Currently we can't know if my redness is anything like yours or anyone else's redness. How can we eff that which is ineffable?
If this theory is borne out, and we achieve any kind of ability to reliably predict just what it is that has redness, we'll be able to do things like use our traditional instruments to detect the same thing going on in others' brains. Any such would provide us tools to ground our abstract communication so that it could become phenomenally meaningful between brains.
As an example, we could look for whatever it is that we reliably know has person A's redness in person B's brain. Then we could say to person B that this is person A's red. To which person B might say something like, 'No, that is my green', or maybe, 'Yes, that is very similar to my red', or any of many other possible responses that would enable us to map out and communicate, in a predictably reliable way, at least some of the more obvious differences between our brains.
This would be a kind of weak effing of the ineffable, which can be achieved via any ability we may achieve to reliably observe whatever it is that has redness and ground what we mean by abstract words in such a personally experiencable way as this. The next section describes 2 stronger types of effing the ineffable.

Gamma Synchrony, the Binding Problem and the Unity of Consciousness: Strongly Effing the Ineffable


When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision), we are aware of them at the same time. This unified phenomenal world, which bridges the corpus callosum, unifies vision into a conscious whole, in which we can compare and contrast their phenomenal differences.
Studies show that conscious percepts correlate to different types of brain activity from unconscious percepts. In particular consciousness is demonstrated to correlate with synchronisation of gamma oscillations in widely separated neural assemblies, whereas unconscious signals correlate only to local synchrony. The 30-80 Hz oscillation of neuronal spiking known as the gamma wave can become synchronised across the brain. It is suggested that the synchronisation of widely distributed neuronal activity meets some of the requirements for explaining how conscious experience arises.
It is proposed that spatially separated neuronal assemblies are bound together by signalling between them. Neurons are known to be synchronised into coherent assemblies, and these assemblies are suggested to signal the presence or absence of particular features in them to other assemblies. This process is suggested to give rise to a distributed representation of an object or an environment. Neuronal assemblies form and dissolve rapidly, which could account for the easy shifting of consciousness from one focus to another.
Synchronisation allows better control of interactions between neurons. The excitatory inputs are seen to be effective if they arrive at the depolarising slope of a neuronal oscillation cycle, but are ineffective at other times. This means that groups of neurons that oscillate in synchrony will be able to signal to one another, and groups that are out of synchrony will be ignored. This mechanism can function within neural assemblies, but also between spatially separated assemblies.
Studies suggest that local processing is unconscious, whereas large scale activity such as reciprocal signalling between neural assemblies is a correlate of consciousness. It is these latter that can establish the global coordination that is correlated to consciousness. It is proposed that masking is a good way of studying consciousness, because this allows the same stimuli to either be used in unconscious brain processing, or to be translated into phenomenally experienced brain states, depending on how long the signal is sustained for (probably +/- 30 ms). In one study words could be perceived in some trials but not in others. Local gamma synchronisation was similar in both cases, but with consciously perceived words there was a burst of long-distance gamma synchrony. Melloni, L. et al , 2007, Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L. 2007, Melloni, L. & Woolf, S
Whatever the relationship between gamma synchrony and consciousness, this spatially extended synchrony does appear to provide a plausible explanation of how conscious perceptions are unified. The redness of fruit in one neuronal assembly is synchronised with the greenness of leaves in another assembly, the blueness of the sky in still another, plus the humming of bees and song of birds in the more spatially distant but still synchronised assemblies of the auditory cortex.
Given that in principle anything physical can be built, in the long run, this theory predicts it will be possible to discover and use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere-like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. This second type of effing is more flexible or wide ranging than the form mentioned earlier. With the first type, if you wanted to eff a particular quale, say your red which is another person's green, you'd have to hope you could reproduce and observe such in the target brain, so that the other person would experience what you were describing. But if the other person had never experienced the quale you were describing, or their brain was not capable of experiencing it, then the augmentation described above would be necessary
The possibility of a third type of effing is suggested by the ideas of V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein. They were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia in 1997. They pointed out that if you were colour blind and a cable was run from the V4 area of someone else's brain into your brain, then perhaps you would suddenly have the experience of colour which would be an example of effing the ineffable. This cable would need to unify the same phenomenal information that we discuss above in respect of the global gamma synchrony. This leads on to the possibility of an actual merger or mixture of minds that experience the same representations of the world.

Different Types of Effing


  1. Weak: Having reliable maps of whatever neural correlates reliably have a particular quale. Then observing such in other minds via any traditional cause and effect methods. Then informing the person experiencing such what others use that quale for.
  2. Stronger: Augmenting someone's brain with capabilities to experience phenomenal experience the person's brain wasn't previously capable of producing.
  3. Strongest: Joining minds together with something that can do what the corpus callosum does, when merging conscious knowledge in both hemispheres of the brain. In other words merging two brains so two minds can experience the same qualia.

Any such method where two brains can experience the same quale is clearly the strongest of the 3 types of effing. While with only the first two types, it might be possible for skeptics to still doubt the existence of the external world, or other minds, by seriously violating Occam's razor in even more extreme ways than the Brain in a Vat idea. If science demonstrated the third type where two people are experiencing the same qualia, such could be extended to provide absolute proof of other minds and a real external world, and most importantly of all, what they and it are all phenomenally like, or not. Possibly with the first, and surely with either the 2nd or 3rd methods being achieved by science, as all predicted here, it will effectively falsify Nagel's famous hypothesis that it would never be possible to experience the qualia of a bat You'll never know what it's like to be a bat, Nagel, 1974 and any other of the many theories predicting there is no such thing as qualia or that effing will never be possible. Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article.

Choice, Preference and the Emotional Brain: The Turing Test Isn't Enough


Certain aspects of emotional processing appear to be basis of choice and preference. As something that is not replicated in classical computing, they look to be the best way of distinguishing a conscious entity. Emotional processing in the brain revolves round a system of 'rewards' and 'punishers'. Representations of the external world are produced in the cortex, but these are initially neutral in terms of reward value, until they are projected to other regions, and particularly the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal is thought to encode the relative value of rewards. It responds more strongly to sensory inputs related to rewards than to neutral stimuli. Thus it responds more to the pressure of velvet than the pressure of wood.
In particular, studies show that the level of orbitofrontal activity correlates to the subjective pleasantness of sensations rather than the strength of the signal being received Rolls et al 2003c, 2003d, Anderson et al, 2003. In responding to a face, activity increases in line with the subjectively assessed attractiveness of the face. The orbitofrontal also process shifts in preferences. In a choice of apples and carrots, apples may be preferred, but when bananas are added, the preference can shift to bananas. Thus some aspects of orbitofrontal processing could be argued to make sense only in terms of qualia, rather than any form of non-conscious communication from the external world. The orbitofrontal can be seen as a brain region that creates a common neural currency that weigh up the qualia of differing rewards, or even of rewards that have no common characteristic such as holiday or a healthy bank balance.
The orbitofrontal projects to the subcortical basal ganglia, a region that lies upstream of actions and behaviour. The orbitofrontal also project to the dorsolateral frontal seen as the executive and long-term planning region of the brain. The basal ganglia integrate the reward assessment of the orbitofrontal, plus inputs from many other parts of the cortex, the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system. The basal ganglia appear to act as a form of mixer-tap for a wide spread of inputs. Dopamine and other neuromodulators play a role in the delivery of the qualia of subjective reward in the nucleus accumbens, itself part of the basal ganglia.
It is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another's consciousness is through a "Turing Test", rooted as this test is in the more limited mid-twentieth century knowledge of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. To phenomenally know the nature of qualia, the most important question to ask is something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must have some way to get around the quale interpretation problem while observing the mechanisms of their brain.
If you ask an intelligent system that is based on abstract knowledge what its red knowledge is phenomenally like, depending on the level of self-referential information it has access to, it could reply that it is an abstracted knowledge based system in which the information is represented by, doesn't matter. It might provide some information about the specifics such as, red is represented with 0xFF0000, revealing depth and resolution information about its knowledge and so on. Some people might consider such system to be a non-phenomenal 'zombie' that could behave identically to a phenomenal system as far as easily picking red strawberries goes. Despite such, if it demands something like 'red is a property of the surface of a strawberry', it will simply be revealing its stupidity, or if it is smarter than that, and claiming it is a phenomenal system, perhaps in line with its attempt to pass a Turing test, it will be lying.
And if it is really smart, like some humans are now becoming, it will be able to learn what a phenomenally wonderful and rewarding quality red is, what it is a property of, and that effing is required to communicate and be aware of such. Like intelligent humans that want to know what other's red is like, it will want to know what red is like for us. It will likely start looking for ways to eff such ineffable knowledge to itself, so it too can experience the same wonderful stuff and finally phenomenally say: "oh THAT is what red is like for you!". An example from Sci-Fi includes Commander Data in Star Trek, who is often asking about and seeking after obviously valuable phenomenal things.

Problems with other working hypothesis


Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogiston, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
  "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
  something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
  that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
  observe about life, or to use another example reductive
  physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
  light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
  the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
  ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" Consciousness Explained P. 375. The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations of something else is irrelevant.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every quale is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. The key thing to grasp is that the qualia, subjective experience, or the fact that looking at a strawberry does seem like something rather than either nothing or a string of 0s and 1s is a brain state. It usually correlates to particular oscillations in the external world but bears little or no resemblance to them. Philosophers who say that we only seem to have the qualia of red strawberries miss the point or make a category error in that it is the seeming bit that they need to explain. If they are scientifically literate they already know that the qualia bear little actual resemblance to the external object.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process.
This is a very brief list of issues present here. Steve Lehar has a much more comprehensive review of the history of the epistemological debate, and the various problems and confusions that have and still do exist, working from an assumption that representational qualia theory is correct. This comprehensive academic presentation is contained in his "A History of the Epistemological Debate" section of his "The Function of Conscious Experience" paper. It includes the following:
   "The critical realists all agreed on the fact that the sense
    data are independent of the object of perception itself.
    However the question of whether the sense data are part
   of the mind, or whether they are aspects of the external
   object is one on which critical realists differed in subtle
   ways. In a book on critical realism by a consortium of
   authors, Lovejoy, Pratt and Sellars claim that the senses
   are completely "the character of the mental existent ….
   although its existence is not given", whatever that might
   possibly mean, while Drake, Rogers, Santayana and Strong
   agree that the data are characteristic of the apprehended
   object, although "the datum is qua datum, a mere essence,
   an inputed but not necessarily actually existent. It may or
   may not have existence", whatever that might possibly
   mean. So the critical realists solved the problem of
   sense-data by defining a unique kind of existent, which may
   either be part of the external object, or of the internal
   mental state, but in any case it has a status
   of quasi-existence, which supposedly escapes the problems
   inherent in identifying it explicitly as either an internal or
   external entity. Epistemological confusion inevitably leads
   to a confused philosophy." 


Various types of Property Dualism


Everyone in this camp considers themselves to be 'property dualists', in that they believe qualia are not only important, but are different properties of nature than traditional causal properties we can know of abstractly. As David Chalmers refers to it, phenomenal qualities are "Part of the basic furniture of nature, just as the laws of physics are." Some theoreticians tend to call them 'physical properties' but we believe this is not a good name since subjective phenomenal properties are also best thought of as 'physical properties'.
There are different types of property dualists. David Chalmers is probably the most famous property dualists and argues that phenomenal properties, in some 'hard' way, 'arise from any functional equivalent organization, from neurons to silicon transistors. This version of property dualism is currently the most well accepted, and is represented by the Functional Property Dualism sub camp. Recent gains in a competing camp that might be on the verge of taking the lead is very different in that it predicts that there is some neural correlate, or material substance that simply has the phenomenal properties our brains use to represent conscious knowledge with. Without the right stuff, you can't have the same quale. This theory is represented by the Material Property Dualism sub camp. If Material Property Dualism is effingly demonstrated to be true by science, it will falsify any theory or possibility that we might be in an abstracting simulation.
There are also other supporting yet to be falsified theories such as Higher Dimensional theories. This super camp includes the Calibi-Yau-Ruquist hypothesis and the Smythies-Carr Hypothesis sub camps. The latter was first proposed by C.D. Broad, and currently supported by John Smythies and Bernard Carr. This theory predicts phenomenal properties exist in the branes of string theory, or in some higher dimensions. In addition to these, there is an increasing number of other supporting sub camps indicating there is far less consensus on what qualia are, as to how well accepted this more general Representational Qualia theory is. The supporters of such sub camps as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and Computational Functionalism are sub sets of the supporters of these general ideas. Some proponents of 'Mind-Brain Identity Theory', for example, do not believe in the importance of qualia, or that qualia are properties of our knowledge. The supporters of these particular camps, as indicated by the fact that these are sub camps to this camp, show that they do espouse these additional doctrines. We fully expect parallel branches of such camps to form outside of this Representational Qualia camp to properly represent the people that espouse these different versions of mind brain identity theory and functionalism. The Detection, Reaction, and Association camp being one example of a functionalist theory that ignores qualia that is a competitor to this camp.

What will the future be like if this theory turns out to be the one ?


Our brains and brain states are private from those of others, and give a first person experience, whereas what comes from other peoples' brains is public and third person. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of us, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behaviour of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about the behaviour of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science could be on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause-and-effect observation phenomenal properties that could enable technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behaviour. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

References:
1.) Rolls et al, 2003c
2.) Rolls et al 2003d
3.) Anderson et al, 2003 – Dissociated neural representations of intensity and valence in human olfaction - Nature Neuroscience, 6, pp. 196-203
4.) Melloni, L. et al, 2007 - Synchronisation of cortical activity across cortical areas correlates with conscious perception - Journal of Neuroscience, 27, pp. 2858-65
5.) Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L., 2007 - Non-perceived stimuli elicit local but not large scale neural synchrony - Perception, 36, (ECVP Abstract Supplement)
6.) Memory, Attention and Decision-Making - Edmund T. Rolls, Chapter 3, pp. 113-129 New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness - Chapter 2, pp. 17-26 – Lucia Melloni & Wolf Singer
7.) Dennett, Daniel, 1991 – Consciousness Explained, Brown and Co.
8.) Nagel, T. 1974 __ What is it like to be a bat? ___ Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50
9.) http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997.

More Info:
  • Steven Lehar, an early leader in the [1] Mind Experts topic maintains The Representationalism Web Site.
  • In Nov. 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense –Datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-Datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.
  • There is a canonized list of the most favourite publications about representational qualia theory here
  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escape from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop

*Note: It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of, the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Fix some links and a few other technical issues.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



Our working hypothesis is that redness is not a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or the initial cause of a perception process. It is, instead, a property of the final result of a perception process. The world finally fully realizing this will be far more significant than when they switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This could lead to the most significant scientific revolution of all time. The early significant lead this collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others is exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we might have already made considerable progress in this direction.
Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. If you know something, there must be something that is that knowledge. If you know lots of phenomenal stuff like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of some leaves, and cognitive information about how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the same world of awareness that we experience.
All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based senses does so in the abstract. This type of abstract information suffers from a "Quale Interpretation Problem". This problem is why redness is ineffable. The cause and effect way this type of abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses has three important related (dis) functionalities:
  1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as long as it is interpreted properly.
  2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.
  3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and simulation devices. If you are going to represent information, you must have some media which can assume distinguishable states. Abstracted information being communicated someplace is, by nature of its design, only concerned with detectible and distinguishable causal local properties of the media. Regardless of what the properties of this media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is your interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information being represented. External abstract information has nothing to do with what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally like, either phenomenally or behaviourally. With the design of whatever represents red in a computer (say red is 1 and green is 0), the only important thing is that whatever is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, and that such differences be interpreted properly so the machines abstract algorithms can pick the items represented by ones, while avoiding the zeros. The process of interpreting abstracted representations is a local process isolated from the information and abstract algorithms being processed on them. While with consciousness, what redness and greenness are like and how they are different in phenomenally motivating ways is a critical part of our conscious knowledge and is what enables us to consciously distinguish between different things so that we can choose the red over the green. These properties must have some way of being bound together and integrated with our cognitive reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on. If we used traditional cause and effect observation that suffers from the "Quale Interpretation Problem", in order to examine the surface of the brain, or even to examine individual neurons and groups of neurons, and by this means we managed to observe the physical correlate for redness, we might ourselves only observe grey light reflected from these surfaces. However, it would be incorrect to interpret the subjective experience as greyness rather than redness. If we are going to make any progress towards explaining consciousness, we must do more than just this. We must first have a clear understanding that there is more than just causal properties we should be looking for and understand this "Quale Interpretation Problem". We must understand just "what" to look for – qualia, "where" to look for it – a property of a neural correlate and finally "how" to look for it – via effing the ineffable or some type of repeatable and sharable binding or grounding process. The longer nuts and bolts neural researchers only do the former, and only focus on abstracted and incorrectly interpreted causal properties of neurons, the longer they will continue to have success regarding causal behaviour, but fail to achieve what could arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, in uncovering the relationship of the phenomenal properties to the neural correlates. This discovery includes the mapping and sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the behavioural properties we already know so much about, and with it the discovery of what physics is phenomenally like.

Reduction of unified complex knowledge to fundamental qualia


The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge (B) correlating to an external physical object. Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology (A) and visual epistemology (B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property such as the surface of a strawberry reflecting 650 nm light. But this usage is ambiguous referring to both the property of an object reflecting 650 nm light and to the correlated but physically quite separate process of the phenomenal experience redness in the brain. It is possible to add a red/green inverter anywhere in the perception process of a strawberry patch. Whenever you do this, the still reflecting 650 nm light strawberry is then being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves are represented with phenomenal red. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, and other visual brain states can also be composed of phenomenal, red even when there is no 650 nm light coming to our retinas from the external world.

We think that the redness of the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations only arise after the perception process, in the model of a unified conscious world* perceived by us as our everyday reality.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modelling is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, but remains in the unified phenomenal world of our conscious awareness.

Effing the Ineffable

Since this theory predicts that redness is not a property of the strawberry, but instead a property of our knowledge of such, we are faced with a communication problem. Currently we can't know if my redness is anything like yours or anyone else's redness. How can we eff that which is ineffable? If this theory is borne out, and we achieve any kind of ability to reliably predict just what it is that has redness, we'll be able to do things like use our traditional instruments to detect the same thing going on in others' brains. Any such would provide us tools to ground our abstract communication so that it could become phenomenally meaningful between brains. As an example, we could look for whatever it is that we reliably know has person A's redness in person B's brain. Then we could say to person B that this is person A's red. To which person B might say something like, 'No, that is my green', or maybe, 'Yes, that is very similar to my red', or any of many other possible responses that would enable us to map out and communicate, in a predictably reliable way, at least some of the more obvious differences between our brains. This would be a kind of weak effing of the ineffable, which can be achieved via any ability we may achieve to reliably ground what we mean by abstract words in such a personally experiencable way as this. The next section describes a stronger method of effing the ineffable.

Gamma Synchrony, the Binding Problem and the Unity of Consciousness: Strongly Effing the Ineffable


When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision), we are aware of them at the same time. This unified phenomenal world, which bridges the corpus callosum, unifies vision into a conscious whole, in which we can compare and contrast their phenomenal differences. Studies show that conscious percepts correlate to different types of brain activity from unconscious percepts. In particular consciousness is demonstrated to correlate with synchronisation of gamma oscillations in widely separated neural assemblies, whereas unconscious signals correlate only to local synchrony. The 30-80 Hz oscillation of neuronal spiking known as the gamma wave can become synchronised across the brain. It is suggested that the synchronisation of widely distributed neuronal activity meets some of the requirements for explaining how conscious experience arises. It is proposed that spatially separated neuronal assemblies are bound together by signalling between them. Neurons are known to be synchronised into coherent assemblies, and these assemblies are suggested to signal the presence or absence of particular features in them to other assemblies. This process is suggested to give rise to a distributed representation of an object or an environment. Neuronal assemblies form and dissolve rapidly, which could account for the easy shifting of consciousness from one focus to another. Synchronisation allows better control of interactions between neurons. The excitatory inputs are seen to be effective if they arrive at the depolarising slope of a neuronal oscillation cycle, but are ineffective at other times. This means that groups of neurons that oscillate in synchrony will be able to signal to one another, and groups that are out of synchrony will be ignored. This mechanism can function within neural assemblies, but also between spatially separated assemblies.
Studies suggest that local processing is unconscious, whereas large scale activity such as reciprocal signalling between neural assemblies is a correlate of consciousness. It is these latter that can establish the global coordination that is correlated to consciousness. It is proposed that masking is a good way of studying consciousness, because this allows the same stimuli to either be used in unconscious brain processing, or to be translated into phenomenally experienced brain states, depending on how long the signal is sustained for (probably +/- 30 ms). In one study words could be perceived in some trials but not in others. Local gamma synchronisation was similar in both cases, but with consciously perceived words there was a burst of long-distance gamma synchrony. Melloni, L. et al , 2007, Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L. 2007, Melloni, L. & Woolf, S, Whatever the relationship between gamma synchrony and consciousness, this spatially extended synchrony does appear to provide a plausible explanation of how conscious perceptions are unified. The redness of fruit in one neuronal assembly is synchronised with the greenness of leaves in another assembly, the blueness of the sky in still another, plus the humming of bees and song of birds in the more spatially distant but still synchronised assemblies of the auditory cortex. Given that in principle anything physical can be built, in the longest run, this theory predicts it will be possible to discover and use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere-like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. This second type of effing is more flexible or wide ranging than the form mentioned earlier. With the first type, if you wanted to eff a particular quale, say your red which is another person's green, you'd have to hope you could reproduce and observe such in the target brain, so that the other person would experience what you were describing. But if the other person had never experienced the quale you were describing, or their brain was not capable of experiencing it, then the augmentation described above would be necessary The possibility of a third type of effing is suggested by the ideas of Ramachandran Ramachandran V.S. Ramachandran and Hirstein Hirstein. They were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997. They pointed out that if you were colour blind and a cable was run from the V4 area of someone else's brain into your brain, then perhaps you would suddenly have the experience of colour which would be an example of effing the ineffable. This cable would need to carry the same unified information that we discuss above in respect of the global gamma synchrony. This leads on to the possibility of an actual merger or mixture of minds that experience the same representations of the world. Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods, whether strong or weak, this will prove this theory to be the only sound theory, demonstrating the explanatory power that is hard to detect in functionalism and other mainstream consciousness thinking.

Choice, Preference and the Emotional Brain: The Turing Test Isn't Enough


Certain aspects of emotional processing appear to be basis of choice and preference. As something that is not replicated in classical computing, they look to be the best way of distinguishing a conscious entity. Emotional processing in the brain revolves round a system of 'rewards' and 'punishers'. Representations of the external world are produced in the cortex, but these are initially neutral in terms of reward value, until they are projected to other regions, and particularly the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal is thought to encode the relative value of rewards. It responds more strongly to sensory inputs related to rewards than to neutral stimuli. Thus it responds more to the pressure of velvet than the pressure of wood. In particular, studies show that the level of orbitofrontal activity correlates to the subjective pleasantness of sensations rather than the strength of the signal being received Rolls et al 2003c, 2003d, Anderson et al, 2003. In responding to a face, activity increases in line with the subjectively assessed attractiveness of the face. The orbitofrontal also process shifts in preferences. In a choice of apples and carrots, apples may be preferred, but when bananas are added, the preference can shift to bananas. Thus some aspects of orbitofrontal processing could be argued to make sense only in terms of qualia, rather than any form of non-conscious communication from the external world. The orbitofrontal can be seen as a brain region that creates a common neural currency that weigh up the qualia of differing rewards, or even of rewards that have no common characteristic such as holiday or a healthy bank balance. The orbitofrontal projects to the subcortical basal ganglia, a region that lies upstream of actions and behaviour. The orbitofrontal also project to the dorsolateral frontal seen as the executive and long-term planning region of the brain. The basal ganglia integrate the reward assessment of the orbitofrontal, plus inputs from many other parts of the cortex, the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system. The basal ganglia appear to act as a form of mixer-tap for a wide spread of inputs. Dopamine and other neuromodulators play a role in the delivery of the qualia of subjective reward in the nucleus accumbens, itself part of the basal ganglia. It is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another's consciousness is through a "Turing Test", rooted as this test is in the more limited mid-twentieth century knowledge of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. To phenomenally know the nature of qualia, the most important question to ask is something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe the neural correlates responsible for these properties, and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations, in a way that reliably guarantees we are interpreting them correctly. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
If you ask an intelligent system that is based on abstract knowledge what its red knowledge is phenomenally like, depending on the level of self-referential information it has access to, it could reply that it is an abstracted knowledge based system in which the information is represented by, doesn't matter. It might provide some information about the specifics such as, red is represented with 0xFF0000, revealing depth and resolution information about its knowledge and so on. Some people might consider such system to be a non-phenomenal 'zombie' that could behave identically to a phenomenal system as far as easily picking red strawberries goes. Despite such, if it demands something like 'red is a property of the surface of a strawberry', it will simply be revealing its stupidity, or if it is smarter than that, and claiming it is a phenomenal system, perhaps in line with its attempt to pass a Turing test, it will be lying.
And if it is really smart, like some humans are now becoming, it will be able to learn what a phenomenally wonderful and rewarding quality red is, what it is a property of, and that effing is required to communicate and be aware of such. Like intelligent humans that want to know what other's red is like, it will want to know what red is like for us. It will likely start looking for ways to eff such ineffable knowledge to itself, so it too can experience the same wonderful stuff and finally phenomenally say: "oh THAT is what red is like for you!". An example from Sci-Fi includes Commander Data in Star Trek, who is often asking about and seeking after obviously valuable phenomenal things.

Problems with other working hypothesis


Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogiston, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
  "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
  something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
  that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
  observe about life, or to use another example reductive
  physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
  light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
  the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
  ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (7. Consciousness Explained P. 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations of something else is irrelevant.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every quale is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. The key thing to grasp is that the qualia, subjective experience, or the fact that looking at a strawberry does seem like something rather than either nothing or a string of 0s and 1s is a brain state. It usually correlates to particular oscillations in the external world but bears little or no resemblance to them. Philosophers who say that we only seem to have the qualia of red strawberries miss the point or make a category error in that it is the seeming bit that they need to explain. If they are scientifically literate they already know that the qualia bear little actual resemblance to the external object.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process. This is a very brief list of issues present here. Steve Lehar has a much more comprehensive review of the history of the epistemological debate, and the various problems and confusions that have and still do exist, working from an assumption that representational qualia theory is correct. This comprehensive academic presentation is contained in his [http://cns-alumni.bu.edu~slehar/webstuff/consc1a.htm#hist A History of the Epistemological Debate section of his "The Function of Conscious Experience" paper. It includes the following:
   "The critical realists all agreed on the fact that the sense
    data are independent of the object of perception itself.
    However the question of whether the sense data are part
   of the mind, or whether they are aspects of the external
   object is one on which critical realists differed in subtle
   ways. In a book on critical realism by a consortium of
   authors, Lovejoy, Pratt and Sellars claim that the senses
   are completely "the character of the mental existent ….
   although its existence is not given", whatever that might
   possibly mean, while Drake, Rogers, Santayana and Strong
   agree that the data are characteristic of the apprehended
   object, although "the datum is qua datum, a mere essence,
   an inputed but not necessarily actually existent. It may or
   may not have existence", whatever that might possibly
   mean. So the critical realists solved the problem of
   sense-data by defining a unique kind of existent, which may
   either be part of the external object, or of the internal
   mental state, but in any case it has a status
   of quasi-existence, which supposedly escapes the problems
   inherent in identifying it explicitly as either an internal or
   external entity. Epistemological confusion inevitably leads
   to a confused philosophy." 

Various types of Property Dualism


Everyone in this camp considers themselves to be 'property dualists', in that they believe qualia are not only important, but are different properties of nature than traditional causal properties we can know of abstractly. As David Chalmers refers to it, phenomenal qualities are "Part of the basic furniture of nature, just as the laws of physics are." Some theoreticians tend to call them 'physical properties' but we believe this is not a good name since subjective phenomenal properties are also best thought of as 'physical properties'.
There are different types of property dualists. David Chalmers is probably the most famous property dualists and argues that phenomenal properties, in some 'hard' way, 'arise from any functional equivalent organization, from neurons to silicon transistors. This version of property dualism is currently the most well accepted, and is represented by the Functional Property Dualism sub camp. Recent gains in a competing camp that might be on the verge of taking the lead is very different in that it predicts that there is some neural correlate, or material substance that simply has the phenomenal properties our brains use to represent conscious knowledge with. Without the right stuff, you can't have the same quale. This theory is represented by the Material Property Dualism sub camp. If Material Property Dualism is effingly demonstrated to be true by science, it will falsify any theory or possibility that we might be in an abstracting simulation.
There are also other supporting yet to be falsified theories such as Higher Dimensional theories. This super camp includes the Calibi-Yau-Ruquist hypothesis. The Smythies-Carr Hypothesis was first proposed by C.D. Broad, and currently supported by John Smythies and Bernard Carr. This theory predicts phenomenal properties exist in the branes of string theory, or in some higher dimensions. In addition to these, there is an increasing number of other supporting sub camps indicating there is far less consensus on what qualia are, as to how well accepted this more general Representational Qualia theory is. The supporters of such sub camps as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and Computational Functionalism are sub sets of the supporters of these general ideas. Some proponents of 'Mind-Brain Identity Theory', for example, do not believe in the importance of qualia, or that qualia are properties of our knowledge. The supporters of these particular camps, as indicated by the fact that these are sub camps to this camp, show that they do espouse these additional doctrines. We fully expect parallel branches of such camps to form outside of this Representational Qualia camp to properly represent the people that espouse these different versions of mind brain identity theory and functionalism. The Detection, Reaction, and Association camp being one example of a functionalist theory that ignores qualia that is a competitor to this camp.

What will the future be like if this theory turns out to be the one ?


Our brains and brain states are private from those of others, and give a first person experience, whereas what comes from other peoples' brains is public and third person. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of us, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behaviour of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about the behaviour of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science could be on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause-and-effect observation phenomenal properties that could enable technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behaviour. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.
References
1.) Rolls et al, 2003c
2.) Rolls et al 2003d
3.)Anderson et al, 2003 – Dissociated neural representations of intensity and valence in human olfaction - Nature Neuroscience, 6, pp. 196-203

4.) Melloni, L. et al, 2007 - Synchronisation of cortical activity across cortical areas correlates with conscious perception - Journal of Neuroscience, 27, pp. 2858-65
5.) Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L., 2007 - Non-perceived stimuli elicit local but not large scale neural synchrony - Perception, 36, (ECVP Abstract Supplement)
6.) Memory, Attention and Decision-Making - Edmund T. Rolls, Chapter 3, pp. 113-129 New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness - Chapter 2, pp. 17-26 – Lucia Melloni & Wolf Singer
7.) Dennett, Daniel, 1991 – Consciousness Explained, Brown and Co.
8.) Nagel, T. 1974 __ What is it like to be a bat? ___ Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50
9.) http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997.

More Info
  • Steven Lehar, an early leader in the [1] Mind Experts topic maintains The Representationalism Web Site.
  • In Nov. 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense –Datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-Datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.
  • There is a canonized list of the most favourite publications about representational qualia theory here
  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escape from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop

*Note It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of, the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.

Note : Just remove unnecessary "second attempt" line after title.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory


Second attempt after making some changes


Our working hypothesis is that redness is not a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or the initial cause of a perception process. It is, instead, a property of the final result of a perception process. The world finally fully realizing this will be far more significant than when they switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This could lead to the most significant scientific revolution of all time. The early significant lead this collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others is exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we might have already made considerable progress in this direction.
Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. If you know something, there must be something that is that knowledge. If you know lots of phenomenal stuff like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of some leaves, and cognitive information about how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the same world of awareness that we experience.
All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based senses does so in the abstract. This type of abstract information suffers from a "Quale Interpretation Problem". This problem is why redness is ineffable. The cause and effect way this type of abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses has three important related (dis) functionalities:
  1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as long as it is interpreted properly.
  2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.
  3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and simulation devices. If you are going to represent information, you must have some media which can assume distinguishable states. Abstracted information being communicated someplace is, by nature of its design, only concerned with detectible and distinguishable causal local properties of the media. Regardless of what the properties of this media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is your interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information being represented. External abstract information has nothing to do with what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally like, either phenomenally or behaviourally. With the design of whatever represents red in a computer (say red is 1 and green is 0), the only important thing is that whatever is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, and that such differences be interpreted properly so the machines abstract algorithms can pick the items represented by ones, while avoiding the zeros. The process of interpreting abstracted representations is a local process isolated from the information and abstract algorithms being processed on them. While with consciousness, what redness and greenness are like and how they are different in phenomenally motivating ways is a critical part of our conscious knowledge and is what enables us to consciously distinguish between different things so that we can choose the red over the green. These properties must have some way of being bound together and integrated with our cognitive reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on. If we used traditional cause and effect observation that suffers from the "Quale Interpretation Problem", in order to examine the surface of the brain, or even to examine individual neurons and groups of neurons, and by this means we managed to observe the physical correlate for redness, we might ourselves only observe grey light reflected from these surfaces. However, it would be incorrect to interpret the subjective experience as greyness rather than redness. If we are going to make any progress towards explaining consciousness, we must do more than just this. We must first have a clear understanding that there is more than just causal properties we should be looking for and understand this "Quale Interpretation Problem". We must understand just "what" to look for – qualia, "where" to look for it – a property of a neural correlate and finally "how" to look for it – via effing the ineffable or some type of repeatable and sharable binding or grounding process. The longer nuts and bolts neural researchers only do the former, and only focus on abstracted and incorrectly interpreted causal properties of neurons, the longer they will continue to have success regarding causal behaviour, but fail to achieve what could arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, in uncovering the relationship of the phenomenal properties to the neural correlates. This discovery includes the mapping and sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the behavioural properties we already know so much about, and with it the discovery of what physics is phenomenally like.

Reduction of unified complex knowledge to fundamental qualia


The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge (B) correlating to an external physical object. Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology (A) and visual epistemology (B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property such as the surface of a strawberry reflecting 650 nm light. But this usage is ambiguous referring to both the property of an object reflecting 650 nm light and to the correlated but physically quite separate process of the phenomenal experience redness in the brain. It is possible to add a red/green inverter anywhere in the perception process of a strawberry patch. Whenever you do this, the still reflecting 650 nm light strawberry is then being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves are represented with phenomenal red. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, and other visual brain states can also be composed of phenomenal, red even when there is no 650 nm light coming to our retinas from the external world.

We think that the redness of the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations only arise after the perception process, in the model of a unified conscious world* perceived by us as our everyday reality.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modelling is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, but remains in the unified phenomenal world of our conscious awareness.

Effing the Ineffable

Since this theory predicts that redness is not a property of the strawberry, but instead a property of our knowledge of such, we are faced with a communication problem. Currently we can't know if my redness is anything like yours or anyone else's redness. How can we eff that which is ineffable? If this theory is borne out, and we achieve any kind of ability to reliably predict just what it is that has redness, we'll be able to do things like use our traditional instruments to detect the same thing going on in others' brains. Any such would provide us tools to ground our abstract communication so that it could become phenomenally meaningful between brains. As an example, we could look for whatever it is that we reliably know has person A's redness in person B's brain. Then we could say to person B that this is person A's red. To which person B might say something like, 'No, that is my green', or maybe, 'Yes, that is very similar to my red', or any of many other possible responses that would enable us to map out and communicate, in a predictably reliable way, at least some of the more obvious differences between our brains. This would be a kind of weak effing of the ineffable, which can be achieved via any ability we may achieve to reliably ground what we mean by abstract words in such a personally experiencable way as this. The next section describes a stronger method of effing the ineffable.

Gamma Synchrony, the Binding Problem and the Unity of Consciousness: Strongly Effing the Ineffable


When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision), we are aware of them at the same time. This unified phenomenal world, which bridges the corpus callosum, unifies vision into a conscious whole, in which we can compare and contrast their phenomenal differences. Studies show that conscious percepts correlate to different types of brain activity from unconscious percepts. In particular consciousness is demonstrated to correlate with synchronisation of gamma oscillations in widely separated neural assemblies, whereas unconscious signals correlate only to local synchrony. The 30-80 Hz oscillation of neuronal spiking known as the gamma wave can become synchronised across the brain. It is suggested that the synchronisation of widely distributed neuronal activity meets some of the requirements for explaining how conscious experience arises. It is proposed that spatially separated neuronal assemblies are bound together by signalling between them. Neurons are known to be synchronised into coherent assemblies, and these assemblies are suggested to signal the presence or absence of particular features in them to other assemblies. This process is suggested to give rise to a distributed representation of an object or an environment. Neuronal assemblies form and dissolve rapidly, which could account for the easy shifting of consciousness from one focus to another. Synchronisation allows better control of interactions between neurons. The excitatory inputs are seen to be effective if they arrive at the depolarising slope of a neuronal oscillation cycle, but are ineffective at other times. This means that groups of neurons that oscillate in synchrony will be able to signal to one another, and groups that are out of synchrony will be ignored. This mechanism can function within neural assemblies, but also between spatially separated assemblies.
Studies suggest that local processing is unconscious, whereas large scale activity such as reciprocal signalling between neural assemblies is a correlate of consciousness. It is these latter that can establish the global coordination that is correlated to consciousness. It is proposed that masking is a good way of studying consciousness, because this allows the same stimuli to either be used in unconscious brain processing, or to be translated into phenomenally experienced brain states, depending on how long the signal is sustained for (probably +/- 30 ms). In one study words could be perceived in some trials but not in others. Local gamma synchronisation was similar in both cases, but with consciously perceived words there was a burst of long-distance gamma synchrony. Melloni, L. et al , 2007, Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L. 2007, Melloni, L. & Woolf, S, Whatever the relationship between gamma synchrony and consciousness, this spatially extended synchrony does appear to provide a plausible explanation of how conscious perceptions are unified. The redness of fruit in one neuronal assembly is synchronised with the greenness of leaves in another assembly, the blueness of the sky in still another, plus the humming of bees and song of birds in the more spatially distant but still synchronised assemblies of the auditory cortex. Given that in principle anything physical can be built, in the longest run, this theory predicts it will be possible to discover and use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere-like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. This second type of effing is more flexible or wide ranging than the form mentioned earlier. With the first type, if you wanted to eff a particular quale, say your red which is another person's green, you'd have to hope you could reproduce and observe such in the target brain, so that the other person would experience what you were describing. But if the other person had never experienced the quale you were describing, or their brain was not capable of experiencing it, then the augmentation described above would be necessary The possibility of a third type of effing is suggested by the ideas of Ramachandran Ramachandran V.S. Ramachandran and Hirstein Hirstein. They were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997. They pointed out that if you were colour blind and a cable was run from the V4 area of someone else's brain into your brain, then perhaps you would suddenly have the experience of colour which would be an example of effing the ineffable. This cable would need to carry the same unified information that we discuss above in respect of the global gamma synchrony. This leads on to the possibility of an actual merger or mixture of minds that experience the same representations of the world. Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods, whether strong or weak, this will prove this theory to be the only sound theory, demonstrating the explanatory power that is hard to detect in functionalism and other mainstream consciousness thinking.

Choice, Preference and the Emotional Brain: The Turing Test Isn't Enough


Certain aspects of emotional processing appear to be basis of choice and preference. As something that is not replicated in classical computing, they look to be the best way of distinguishing a conscious entity. Emotional processing in the brain revolves round a system of 'rewards' and 'punishers'. Representations of the external world are produced in the cortex, but these are initially neutral in terms of reward value, until they are projected to other regions, and particularly the orbitofrontal cortex. The orbitofrontal is thought to encode the relative value of rewards. It responds more strongly to sensory inputs related to rewards than to neutral stimuli. Thus it responds more to the pressure of velvet than the pressure of wood. In particular, studies show that the level of orbitofrontal activity correlates to the subjective pleasantness of sensations rather than the strength of the signal being received Rolls et al 2003c, 2003d, Anderson et al, 2003. In responding to a face, activity increases in line with the subjectively assessed attractiveness of the face. The orbitofrontal also process shifts in preferences. In a choice of apples and carrots, apples may be preferred, but when bananas are added, the preference can shift to bananas. Thus some aspects of orbitofrontal processing could be argued to make sense only in terms of qualia, rather than any form of non-conscious communication from the external world. The orbitofrontal can be seen as a brain region that creates a common neural currency that weigh up the qualia of differing rewards, or even of rewards that have no common characteristic such as holiday or a healthy bank balance. The orbitofrontal projects to the subcortical basal ganglia, a region that lies upstream of actions and behaviour. The orbitofrontal also project to the dorsolateral frontal seen as the executive and long-term planning region of the brain. The basal ganglia integrate the reward assessment of the orbitofrontal, plus inputs from many other parts of the cortex, the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system. The basal ganglia appear to act as a form of mixer-tap for a wide spread of inputs. Dopamine and other neuromodulators play a role in the delivery of the qualia of subjective reward in the nucleus accumbens, itself part of the basal ganglia. It is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another's consciousness is through a "Turing Test", rooted as this test is in the more limited mid-twentieth century knowledge of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. To phenomenally know the nature of qualia, the most important question to ask is something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe the neural correlates responsible for these properties, and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations, in a way that reliably guarantees we are interpreting them correctly. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
If you ask an intelligent system that is based on abstract knowledge what its red knowledge is phenomenally like, depending on the level of self-referential information it has access to, it could reply that it is an abstracted knowledge based system in which the information is represented by, doesn't matter. It might provide some information about the specifics such as, red is represented with 0xFF0000, revealing depth and resolution information about its knowledge and so on. Some people might consider such system to be a non-phenomenal 'zombie' that could behave identically to a phenomenal system as far as easily picking red strawberries goes. Despite such, if it demands something like 'red is a property of the surface of a strawberry', it will simply be revealing its stupidity, or if it is smarter than that, and claiming it is a phenomenal system, perhaps in line with its attempt to pass a Turing test, it will be lying.
And if it is really smart, like some humans are now becoming, it will be able to learn what a phenomenally wonderful and rewarding quality red is, what it is a property of, and that effing is required to communicate and be aware of such. Like intelligent humans that want to know what other's red is like, it will want to know what red is like for us. It will likely start looking for ways to eff such ineffable knowledge to itself, so it too can experience the same wonderful stuff and finally phenomenally say: "oh THAT is what red is like for you!". An example from Sci-Fi includes Commander Data in Star Trek, who is often asking about and seeking after obviously valuable phenomenal things.

Problems with other working hypothesis


Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogiston, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
  "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
  something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
  that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
  observe about life, or to use another example reductive
  physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
  light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
  the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
  ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (7. Consciousness Explained P. 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations of something else is irrelevant.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every quale is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. The key thing to grasp is that the qualia, subjective experience, or the fact that looking at a strawberry does seem like something rather than either nothing or a string of 0s and 1s is a brain state. It usually correlates to particular oscillations in the external world but bears little or no resemblance to them. Philosophers who say that we only seem to have the qualia of red strawberries miss the point or make a category error in that it is the seeming bit that they need to explain. If they are scientifically literate they already know that the qualia bear little actual resemblance to the external object.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process. This is a very brief list of issues present here. Steve Lehar has a much more comprehensive review of the history of the epistemological debate, and the various problems and confusions that have and still do exist, working from an assumption that representational qualia theory is correct. This comprehensive academic presentation is contained in his [http://cns-alumni.bu.edu~slehar/webstuff/consc1a.htm#hist A History of the Epistemological Debate section of his "The Function of Conscious Experience" paper. It includes the following:
   "The critical realists all agreed on the fact that the sense
    data are independent of the object of perception itself.
    However the question of whether the sense data are part
   of the mind, or whether they are aspects of the external
   object is one on which critical realists differed in subtle
   ways. In a book on critical realism by a consortium of
   authors, Lovejoy, Pratt and Sellars claim that the senses
   are completely "the character of the mental existent ….
   although its existence is not given", whatever that might
   possibly mean, while Drake, Rogers, Santayana and Strong
   agree that the data are characteristic of the apprehended
   object, although "the datum is qua datum, a mere essence,
   an inputed but not necessarily actually existent. It may or
   may not have existence", whatever that might possibly
   mean. So the critical realists solved the problem of
   sense-data by defining a unique kind of existent, which may
   either be part of the external object, or of the internal
   mental state, but in any case it has a status
   of quasi-existence, which supposedly escapes the problems
   inherent in identifying it explicitly as either an internal or
   external entity. Epistemological confusion inevitably leads
   to a confused philosophy." 

Various types of Property Dualism


Everyone in this camp considers themselves to be 'property dualists', in that they believe qualia are not only important, but are different properties of nature than traditional causal properties we can know of abstractly. As David Chalmers refers to it, phenomenal qualities are "Part of the basic furniture of nature, just as the laws of physics are." Some theoreticians tend to call them 'physical properties' but we believe this is not a good name since subjective phenomenal properties are also best thought of as 'physical properties'.
There are different types of property dualists. David Chalmers is probably the most famous property dualists and argues that phenomenal properties, in some 'hard' way, 'arise from any functional equivalent organization, from neurons to silicon transistors. This version of property dualism is currently the most well accepted, and is represented by the Functional Property Dualism sub camp. Recent gains in a competing camp that might be on the verge of taking the lead is very different in that it predicts that there is some neural correlate, or material substance that simply has the phenomenal properties our brains use to represent conscious knowledge with. Without the right stuff, you can't have the same quale. This theory is represented by the Material Property Dualism sub camp. If Material Property Dualism is effingly demonstrated to be true by science, it will falsify any theory or possibility that we might be in an abstracting simulation.
There are also other supporting yet to be falsified theories such as Higher Dimensional theories. This super camp includes the Calibi-Yau-Ruquist hypothesis. The Smythies-Carr Hypothesis was first proposed by C.D. Broad, and currently supported by John Smythies and Bernard Carr. This theory predicts phenomenal properties exist in the branes of string theory, or in some higher dimensions. In addition to these, there is an increasing number of other supporting sub camps indicating there is far less consensus on what qualia are, as to how well accepted this more general Representational Qualia theory is. The supporters of such sub camps as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and Computational Functionalism are sub sets of the supporters of these general ideas. Some proponents of 'Mind-Brain Identity Theory', for example, do not believe in the importance of qualia, or that qualia are properties of our knowledge. The supporters of these particular camps, as indicated by the fact that these are sub camps to this camp, show that they do espouse these additional doctrines. We fully expect parallel branches of such camps to form outside of this Representational Qualia camp to properly represent the people that espouse these different versions of mind brain identity theory and functionalism. The Detection, Reaction, and Association camp being one example of a functionalist theory that ignores qualia that is a competitor to this camp.

What will the future be like if this theory turns out to be the one ?


Our brains and brain states are private from those of others, and give a first person experience, whereas what comes from other peoples' brains is public and third person. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of us, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behaviour of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about the behaviour of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science could be on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause-and-effect observation phenomenal properties that could enable technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behaviour. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.
"References"
1.) Rolls et al, 2003c
2.) Rolls et al 2003d
3.)Anderson et al, 2003 – Dissociated neural representations of intensity and valence in human olfaction - Nature Neuroscience, 6, pp. 196-203

4.) Melloni, L. et al, 2007 - Synchronisation of cortical activity across cortical areas correlates with conscious perception - Journal of Neuroscience, 27, pp. 2858-65
5.) Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L., 2007 - Non-perceived stimuli elicit local but not large scale neural synchrony - Perception, 36, (ECVP Abstract Supplement)
6.) Memory, Attention and Decision-Making - Edmund T. Rolls, Chapter 3, pp. 113-129 New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness - Chapter 2, pp. 17-26 – Lucia Melloni & Wolf Singer
7.) Dennett, Daniel, 1991 – Consciousness Explained, Brown and Co.
8.) Nagel, T. 1974 __ What is it like to be a bat? ___ Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50
9.) http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997.

"More Info"
  • Steven Lehar, an early leader in the [1] Mind Experts topic maintains The Representationalism Web Site.
  • In Nov. 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense –Datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-Datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.
  • There is a canonized list of the most favourite publications about representational qualia theory here
  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escape from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop

"*Note" It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of, the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.

Note : revised camp statement
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Junius
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory




Our working hypothesis is that redness is not a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or the initial cause of a perception process. It is, instead, a property of the final result of a perception process. The world finally fully realizing this will be far more significant than when they switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This could lead to the most significant scientific revolution of all time. The early significant lead this collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others is exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we might have already made considerable progress in this direction.
Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. If you know something, there must be something that is that knowledge. If you know lots of phenomenal stuff like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of some leaves, and cognitive information about how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the same world of awareness that we experience.
All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based senses does so in the abstract. This type of abstract information suffers from a "Quale Interpretation Problem". This problem is why redness is ineffable. The cause and effect way this type of abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses has three important related (dis) functionalities:
  1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as long as it is interpreted properly.
  2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.
  3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and simulation devices. If you are going to represent information, you must have some media which can assume distinguishable states. Abstracted information being communicated someplace is, by nature of its design, only concerned with detectible and distinguishable causal local properties of the media. Regardless of what the properties of this media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is your interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information being represented. External abstract information has nothing to do with what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally like, either phenomenally or behaviourally. With the design of whatever represents red in a computer (say red is 1 and green is 0), the only important thing is that whatever is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, and that such differences be interpreted properly so the machines abstract algorithms can pick the items represented by ones, while avoiding the zeros. The process of interpreting abstracted representations is a local process isolated from the information and abstract algorithms being processed on them. While with consciousness, what redness and greenness are like and how they are different in phenomenally motivating ways is a critical part of our conscious knowledge and is what enables us to consciously distinguish between different things so that we can choose the red over the green. These properties must have some way of being bound together and integrated with our cognitive reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on. If we used traditional cause and effect observation that suffers from the "Quale Interpretation Problem", in order to examine the surface of the brain, or even to examine individual neurons and groups of neurons, and by this means we managed to observe the physical correlate for redness, we might ourselves only observe grey light reflected from these surfaces. However, it would be incorrect to interpret the subjective experience as greyness rather than redness. If we are going to make any progress towards explaining consciousness, we must do more than just this. We must first have a clear understanding that there is more than just causal properties we should be looking for and understand this "Quale Interpretation Problem". We must understand just "what" to look for – qualia, "where" to look for it – a property of a neural correlate and finally "how" to look for it – via effing the ineffable or some type of repeatable and sharable binding or grounding process. The longer nuts and bolts neural researchers only do the former, and only focus on abstracted and incorrectly interpreted causal properties of neurons, the longer they will continue to have success regarding causal behaviour, but fail to achieve what could arguably be the greatest scientific discovery of all time, in uncovering the relationship of the phenomenal properties to the neural correlates. This discovery includes the mapping and sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the behavioural properties we already know so much about, and with it the discovery of what physics is phenomenally like.

Reduction of unified complex knowledge to fundamental qualia


The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge (B) correlating to an external physical object. Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology (A) and visual epistemology (B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property such as the surface of a strawberry reflecting 650 nm light. But this usage is ambiguous referring to both the property of an object reflecting 650 nm light and to the correlated but physically quite separate process of the phenomenal experience redness in the brain. It is possible to add a red/green inverter anywhere in the perception process of a strawberry patch. Whenever you do this, the still reflecting 650 nm light strawberry is then being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves are represented with phenomenal red. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, and other visual brain states can also be composed of phenomenal, red even when there is no 650 nm light coming to our retinas from the external world.

We think that the redness of the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations only arise after the perception process, in the model of a unified conscious world* perceived by us as our everyday reality.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modelling is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, but remains in the unified phenomenal world of our conscious awareness.

Effing the Ineffable

Since this theory predicts that redness is not a property of the strawberry, but instead a property of our knowledge of such, we are faced with a communication problem. Currently we can't know if my redness is anything like yours or anyone else's redness. How can we eff that which is ineffable. If this theory is borne out, and we achieve any kind of ability to reliably predict just what it is that has redness, we'll be able to do things like use our traditional instruments to detect the same thing going on in others' brains. Any such would provide us tools to ground our abstract communication so that it could become phenomenally meaningful between brains. As an example, we could look for whatever it is that we reliably know has person A's redness in person B's brain. Then we could say to person B that this is person A's red. To which person B might say something like, 'No, that is my green', or maybe, 'Yes, that is very similar to my red', or any of many other possible responses that would enable us to map out and communicate, in a predictably reliable way, at least some of the more obvious differences between our brains. This would be a kind of weak effing of the ineffable, which can be achieved via any ability we may achieve to reliably ground what we mean by abstract words in such a personally experiencable way as this. The next section describes a stronger method of effing the ineffable.

Gamma Synchrony, the Binding Problem and the Unity of Consciousness: Strongly Effing the Ineffable


When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision), that we are aware of as a unified phenomenal world that bridges the corpus callosum, and unifies vision into a conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their phenomenal differences. Studies show that conscious percepts correlate to different types of brain activity from unconscious percepts. In particular consciousness is demonstrated to correlate with long-range or global synchronisation of gamma oscillations in widely separated neural assemblies, whereas unconscious signals correlate only to local synchrony. The approx. 30-80 Hz oscillation of neuronal spiking known as the gamma wave can become synchronised across large areas of the brain. It is suggested that the synchronisation of widely distributed neuronal activity meets some of the requirements for explaining how conscious experience arises in the brain. It is proposed that the processing of spatially separated neuronal assemblies is bound together by signalling between them. Neurons are known to be synchronised into coherent assemblies, and these assemblies are suggested to signal the presence or absence of particular features in them to other neural assemblies. This process is suggested to give rise to a distributed representation of an object or an environment. Neuronal assemblies are self-organising and form and dissolve rapidly, which could account for the easy shifting of consciousness from one focus to another. Synchronisation also allows better control of interactions between neurons. Thus the excitatory inputs are seen to be effective if they arrive at the depolarising slope of a neuronal oscillation cycle, but are ineffective at other times. This means that groups of neurons that oscillate in synchrony will be able to signal to one another, and groups that are out of synchrony will be ignored. This mechanism can function within neural assemblies, but also between spatially separated assemblies. The frequency and phase of oscillation can alter so as to influence signalling.
Studies suggest that local processing is unconscious, whereas large scale activity such as reciprocal signalling between separate neural assemblies is a correlate of consciousness. It is these latter that can establish the global coordination that is correlated to consciousness. It is proposed that masking is a good way of studying consciousness, because this allows the same stimuli to either be used in unconscious brain processing, or to be translated into phenomenally experienced brain states, depending on how long the signal is sustained for (probably +/- 30 ms). In one study words could be perceived in some trials but not in others. Local gamma synchronisation was similar in both cases, but with consciously perceived words there was a burst of long-distance gamma synchrony between the occipital, parietal and frontal cortices. Melloni, L. et al , 2007, Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L. 2007, Melloni, L. & Woolf, S, Also subsequent to this burst, there was activity that could have indicated a transfer of information to working memory, while an increase in frontal cortex theta wave operations may have indicated material being held in working memory. Whatever the actual relationship between the global gamma synchrony and consciousness, this spatially extended synchrony does appear to provide a plausible explanation of how conscious perceptions are unified. The redness of fruit in one neuronal assembly is synchronised with the greenness of leaves in another assembly, the blueness of the sky in still another, plus the humming of bees and song of birds in the more spatially distant but still synchronised assemblies of the auditory cortex. Given that in principle anything physical can be built, in the longest run, this theory predicts it will be possible to discover and use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere-like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 650 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods, whether strong or weak, this will prove this theory to be the only sound theory, demonstrating the explanatory power that is hard to detect in functionalism and other mainstream consciousness thinking.

Choice, Preference and the Emotional Brain: The Turing Test Isn't Enough


Certain aspects of emotional processing appear to be basis of choice and preference. As something that is not replicated in classical computing, they look to be the best way of distinguishing between a conscious entity and any classical computer or robot. Emotional processing in the brain revolves round a system of 'rewards' and 'punishers'. Representations of the external world are produced in the cortex, but these are initially neutral in terms of reward value, until they are projected to other regions, and particularly the orbitofrontal cortex, which samples the entire sensory range. The orbitofrontal is thought to encode the relative value of rewards. It responds more strongly to sensory inputs related to rewards than to neutral stimuli. Thus it responds more to the pressure of velvet than the pressure of wood. In particular, studies show that the level of orbitofrontal activity correlates to the subjective pleasantness of sensations rather than the strength of the signal being received Rolls et al 2003c, 2003d, Anderson et al, 2003. In responding to a face, activity increases in line with the subjectively assessed attractiveness of the face. The orbitofrontal also process shifts in preferences. In a choice of apples and carrots, apples may be preferred, but when bananas are added, the preference can shift to bananas. Thus some aspects of orbitofrontal processing could be argued to make sense only in terms of qualia, rather than any form of non-conscious communication from the external world. The orbitofrontal can be seen as a brain region that creates a common neural currency that weigh up the qualia of differing rewards, or even of rewards that have no common characteristic such as holiday or a healthy bank balance. The orbitofrontal projects to the subcortical basal ganglia, a region that lies upstream of actions and behaviour. The orbitofrontal also project to the dorsolateral frontal seen as the executive and long-term planning region of the brain. The basal ganglia integrate the reward assessment of the orbitofrontal, plus inputs from many other parts of the cortex, the amygdala and other parts of the limbic system. The basal ganglia are not thought to take any part in cognitive computation, but instead act as a form of mixer-tap for a wide spread of inputs, and as such select or gate for material processed by the cortex including the orbitofrontal. Dopamine and other neuromodulators play a role both in the processing of the basal ganglia and in the delivery of the qualia of subjective reward in the nucleus accumbens, which is itself part of the basal ganglia. The determining role of qualia in these processes can be seen as contradicting much of mainstream consciousness studies. It is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another's consciousness is through a "Turing Test", rooted as this test is in the more limited mid-twentieth century knowledge of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. To phenomenally know the nature of qualia, the most important question to ask is something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe the neural correlates responsible for these properties, and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations, in a way that reliably guarantees we are interpreting them correctly. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
If you ask an intelligent system that is based on abstract knowledge what its red knowledge is phenomenally like, depending on the level of self-referential information it has access to, it could reply that it is an abstracted knowledge based system in which the information is represented by, doesn't matter. It might provide some information about the specifics such as, red is represented with 0xFF0000, revealing depth and resolution information about its knowledge and so on. Some people might consider such system to be a non-phenomenal 'zombie' that could behave identically to a phenomenal system as far as easily picking red strawberries goes. Despite such, if it demands something like 'red is a property of the surface of a strawberry', it will simply be revealing its stupidity, or if it is smarter than that, and claiming it is a phenomenal system, perhaps in line with its attempt to pass a Turing test, it will be lying.
And if it is really smart, like some humans are now becoming, it will be able to learn what a phenomenally wonderful and rewarding quality red is, what it is a property of, and that effing is required to communicate and be aware of such. Like intelligent humans that want to know what other's red is like, it will want to know what red is like for us. It will likely start looking for ways to eff such ineffable knowledge to itself, so it too can experience the same wonderful stuff and finally phenomenally say: "oh THAT is what red is like for you!". An example from Sci-Fi includes Commander Data in Star Trek, who is often asking about and seeking after obviously valuable phenomenal things.

Problems with other working hypothesis


Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogiston, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
  "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
  something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
  that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
  observe about life, or to use another example reductive
  physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
  light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
  the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
  ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (7. Consciousness Explained P. 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations of something else is irrelevant.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every quale is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. The key thing to grasp is that the qualia, subjective experience, or the fact that looking at a strawberry does seem like something rather than either nothing or a string of 0s and 1s is a brain state. It usually correlates to particular oscillations in the external world but bears little or no resemblance to them. Philosophers who say that we only seem to have the qualia of red strawberries miss the point or make a category error in that it is the seeming bit that they need to explain. If they are scientifically literate they already know that the qualia bear little actual resemblance to the external object.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process. The word representation has to be used because this is the normal way this form of brain processing is described in the literature. Nevertheless, this word is unfortunate in suggesting that our brain states bear some resemblance to the external world. It might be better to talk about 'mapping'. For instance, the two dimensional coloured lines that comprise the map of a metro system in a large city bear little physical resemblance to the reality of concrete tunnels and metal vehicles, but this map is adaptive for navigating the city. This is a very brief list of issues present here. Steve Lehar has a much more comprehensive review of the history of the epistemological debate, and the various problems and confusions that have and still do exist, working from an assumption that representational qualia theory is correct. This comprehensive academic presentation is contained in his [http://cns-alumni.bu.edu~slehar/webstuff/consc1a.htm#hist A History of the Epistemological Debate section of his "The Function of Conscious Experience" paper. It includes the following:
   "The critical realists all agreed on the fact that the sense
    data are independent of the object of perception itself.
    However the question of whether the sense data are part
   of the mind, or whether they are aspects of the external
   object is one on which critical realists differed in subtle
   ways. In a book on critical realism by a consortium of
   authors, Lovejoy, Pratt and Sellars claim that the senses
   are completely "the character of the mental existent ….
   although its existence is not given", whatever that might
   possibly mean, while Drake, Rogers, Santayana and Strong
   agree that the data are characteristic of the apprehended
   object, although "the datum is qua datum, a mere essence,
   an inputed but not necessarily actually existent. It may or
   may not have existence", whatever that might possibly
   mean. So the critical realists solved the problem of
   sense-data by defining a unique kind of existent, which may
   either be part of the external object, or of the internal
   mental state, but in any case it has a status
   of quasi-existence, which supposedly escapes the problems
   inherent in identifying it explicitly as either an internal or
   external entity. Epistemological confusion inevitably leads
   to a confused philosophy." 

Various types of Property Dualism


Everyone in this camp considers themselves to be 'property dualists', in that they believe qualia are not only important, but are different properties of nature than traditional causal properties we can know of abstractly. As David Chalmers refers to it, phenomenal qualities are "Part of the basic furniture of nature, just as the laws of physics are." Some theoreticians tend to call them 'physical properties' but we believe this is not a good name since subjective phenomenal properties are also best thought of as 'physical properties'.
There are different types of property dualists. David Chalmers is probably the most famous property dualists and argues that phenomenal properties, in some 'hard' way, 'arise from any functional equivalent organization, from neurons to silicon transistors. This version of property dualism is currently the most well accepted, and is represented by the Functional Property Dualism sub camp. Recent gains in a competing camp that might be on the verge of taking the lead is very different in that it predicts that there is some neural correlate, or material substance that simply has the phenomenal properties our brains use to represent conscious knowledge with. Without the right stuff, you can't have the same quale. This theory is represented by the Material Property Dualism sub camp. If Material Property Dualism is effingly demonstrated to be true by science, it will falsify any theory or possibility that we might be in an abstracting simulation.
There are also other supporting yet to be falsified theories such as Higher Dimensional property dualism first proposed by C.D. Broad, and currently supported by John Smythies and Bernard Carr. This theory predicts phenomenal properties exist in the branes of string theory, or in some higher dimensions. In addition to these, there is an increasing number of other supporting sub camps indicating there is far less consensus on just what qualia are, as compared to how well accepted this more general Representational Qualia theory is. The supporters of such sub camps as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and Computational Functionalism are subsets of the supporters of these general ideas. Some proponents of 'Mind-Brain Identity Theory', for example, do not believe in the importance of qualia, or that qualia are properties of our knowledge. The supporters of these particular camps, as indicated by the fact that these are sub camps to this camp, show that they do espouse these additional doctrines. We fully expect parallel branches of such camps to form outside of this Representational Qualia camp to properly represent the people that espouse these different versions of mind brain identity theory and functionalism. The Detection, Reaction, and Association camp being one example of a functionalist theory that ignores qualia that is a competitor to this camp.

What will the future be like if this theory turns out to be the one ?


Our brains and brain states are private from those of others, and give a first person experience, whereas what comes from other peoples' brains is public and third person. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of us, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behaviour of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about the behaviour of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science could be on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause-and-effect observation phenomenal properties that could enable technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behaviour. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.
"References"
1.) Rolls et al, 2003c
2.) Rolls et al 2003d
3.)Anderson et al, 2003 – Dissociated neural representations of intensity and valence in human olfaction - Nature Neuroscience, 6, pp. 196-203

4.) Melloni, L. et al, 2007 - Synchronisation of cortical activity across cortical areas correlates with conscious perception - Journal of Neuroscience, 27, pp. 2858-65
5.) Melloni, L. & Rodriguez, L., 2007 - Non-perceived stimuli elicit local but not large scale neural synchrony - Perception, 36, (ECVP Abstract Supplement)
6.) Memory, Attention and Decision-Making - Edmund T. Rolls, Chapter 3, pp. 113-129 New Horizons in the Neuroscience of Consciousness - Chapter 2, pp. 17-26 – Lucia Melloni & Wolf Singer
7.) Dennett, Daniel, 1991 – Consciousness Explained, Brown and Co.
"More Info"
  • Steven Lehar, an early leader in the [1] Mind Experts topic maintains The Representationalism Web Site.
  • That we know of Ramachandran V.S. Ramachandran and Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal http://www.imprint.co.uk/rama/qualia.pdf Three Laws of Qualia in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use than 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.
  • In Nov. 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense –Datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-Datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.
  • There is a canonized list of the most favourite publications about representational qualia theory here
  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escape from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop

"*Note" It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of, the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.

Note : adding gamma synchrony and emotional brain research material
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Junius
Go live Time :
Object Reason : To much that is unnecessary
Objector Nickname : slehar
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



We believe that our conscious knowledge is represented with qualia. Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. When we pick a red strawberry from a field of green leaves, there must be something that is each point of diverse colored knowledge that we have of the strawberry patch. In computers, abstract ones and zeros represent knowledge. By design, what these ones and zeroes are represented with does not matter, as long as you properly interpret the representations. Qualia, (i.e. red vs green) like ones vs zeros, can also represent information, but unlike ones and zeros, what is doing the representation, what they are phenomenally like, and the fact that the system is aware of such, is all important.
As we pick a red strawberry, the causal properties of the surface of the strawberry initiate the perception process, but the first causally downstream representation (i.e. 700nm light), though it can be interpreted to represent the causal properties of the strawberry, are not fundamentally or phenomenally anything like the original. This is why qualia are ineffable, and why we are blind to anything of the surface of the strawberry, other than it's causal properties.
The final result of this perception process is our conscious knowledge. This knowledge is represented by qualia which are unified into the conscious world that is our awareness. This unification process allows us to know all at the same time what the red is like, and how it is different from the green which we represent the leaves with.
Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogisten, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
   "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
   something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
   that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
   observe about life, or to use another example reductive
   physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
   light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
   the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
   ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (Consciousness Explained P 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations is irrelevant.
This long cause and effect chain of representations that is the perception process is initiated by the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an obvious optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, surely in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
This theory predicts it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE true theory. It will do this by falsifying all theories that claim qualia do not exist, all theories that claim we will never be able to eff the ineffable, theories that claim there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
Everyone in this camp considers themselves to be 'property dualists', in that they believe qualia are not only important, but are different properties of nature than traditional causal properties. As David Chalmers refers to it, phenomenal qualities are "Part of the basic furniture of nature, just as the laws of physics are." Theoreticians tend to call them 'physical properties' but we believe this is not a good name since subjective phenomenal properties are also best thought of as 'physical properties'. Ineffable physical properties are blind to cause and effect observation and (non grounded) abstracting communication, but are not blind to introspective / subjective observation and theoretical 'effing' of the ineffable communication techniques as described above.
There are many different types of property dualists. David Chalmers is probably the most famous property dualists and argues that phenomenal properties, in some 'hard' way, 'arise from any functional equivalent organization. This version of property dualism is currently the most well accepted, and is represented by the Functional Property Dualism sub camp. A currently similarly well accepted very different camp predicts that there is some neural correlate, or material substance that simply has the phenomenal properties our brains use to represent conscious knowledge with. Without the right stuff, you can't have the same quale. This theory is represented by the Material Property Dualism sub camp. If Material Property Dualism is effingly demonstrated to be true by science, it will falsify any theory or possibility that we might be in a simulation.
There are also other theories such as Higher Dimensional property dualism first proposed by C.D. Broad, and currently supported by John Smythies and Bernard Carr. This theory predicts phenomenal properties exist in the branes of string theory, or in some higher dimensions. In addition to these, there is an increasing number of other supporting sub camps indicating there is far less consensus on just what qualia are, as compared to how well accepted this more general Representational Qualia theory is. The supporters of such sub camps as the Mind-Brain Identity Theory, and Computational Functionalism are subsets of the supporters of these general ideas. Some proponents of 'Mind-Brain Identity Theory', for example, do not believe in the importance of qualia, or that qualia are properties of our knowledge. The supporters of these particular camps, as indicated by the fact that these are sub camps to this camp, show that they do espouse these additional doctrines. We fully expect parallel branches of such camps to form outside of this Representational Qualia camp to properly represent the people that espouse these different versions of mind brain identity theory and functionalism. The Detection, Reaction, and Association camp being one example of a functionalist theory that ignores qualia that is a competitor to this camp.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every qualia is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. You can see terribly confused people struggling with these ideas all over the place because of terribly unclear terminology such as this. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. Such an idea is what allows philosophers to make terrible mistakes such as thinking: "We don't really have a red phenomenal property, it only seems like we do." We believe it is much more mechanically accurate to simply say qualia represent.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal and mortal prison walls. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about only the behavior of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use than 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • In Nov, 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense-datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.

  • There is a canonized list of the most favorite publications about representational qualia theory here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Add paragraph 19, 20, 21 about diverse property dualists
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



We believe that our conscious knowledge is represented with qualia. Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be represented by something. When we pick a red strawberry from a field of green leaves, there must be something that is each point of diverse colored knowledge that we have of the strawberry patch. In computers, abstract ones and zeros represent knowledge. By design, what these ones and zeroes are represented with does not matter, as long as you properly interpret the representations. Qualia, (i.e. red vs green) like ones vs zeros, can also represent information, but unlike ones and zeros, what is doing the representation, what they are phenomenally like, and the fact that the system is aware of such, is all important.
As we pick a red strawberry, the causal properties of the surface of the strawberry initiate the perception process, but the first causally downstream representation (i.e. 700nm light), though it can be interpreted to represent the causal properties of the strawberry, are not fundamentally or phenomenally anything like the original. This is why qualia are ineffable, and why we are blind to anything of the surface of the strawberry, other than it's causal properties.
The final result of this perception process is our conscious knowledge. This knowledge is represented by qualia which are unified into the conscious world that is our awareness. This unification process allows us to know all at the same time what the red is like, and how it is different from the green which we represent the leaves with.
Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogisten, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
   "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
   something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
   that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
   observe about life, or to use another example reductive
   physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
   light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
   the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
   ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (Consciousness Explained P 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations is irrelevant.
This long cause and effect chain of representations that is the perception process is initiated by the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the phenomenal red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation - an obvious optimization selected by nature. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means our spirit does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really, literally, and spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, surely in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
This theory predicts it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE true theory. It will do this by falsifying all theories that claim qualia do not exist, all theories that claim we will never be able to eff the ineffable, theories that claim there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various Representational Qualia Theory sub camps for descriptions of these various competing theories.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every qualia is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. You can see terribly confused people struggling with these ideas all over the place because of terribly unclear terminology such as this. See liberal usages of this word in the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. Such an idea is what allows philosophers to make terrible mistakes such as thinking: "We don't really have a red phenomenal property, it only seems like we do." We believe it is much more mechanically accurate to simply say qualia represent.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things and that our knowledge is made of such. What these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal and mortal prison walls. Though there are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, our spirits are still trapped behind this phenomenal veil of perception. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information about only the behavior of what is outside, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we still only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work, how they are unified, and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our phenomenally unified spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use than 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • In Nov, 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense-datum Theory?" Though this camp shares doctrines of many of the choices such as qualia and representationalism, the members of this camp consider the Sense-datum Theory choice to be the closest to what is described here.

  • There is a canonized list of the most favorite publications about representational qualia theory here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Changes recommended by Steve, and other minor fixes
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Representational Qualia Theory



We believe that our conscious knowledge is represented with qualia. In computers, abstract ones and zeros represent knowledge. By design, what these ones and zeroes are represented with does not matter, as long as you properly interpret the representations. Qualia, (i.e. red vs green) like ones vs zeros, can also represent information, but unlike ones and zeros, what is doing the representation, what they are phenomenally like, and the fact that the system is aware of such, is all important.
The causal properties of the surface of the strawberry initiate the perception process, but the first causally downstream representation (i.e. 700nm light), though it can be interpreted to represent the causal properties of the strawberry, are not fundamentally or phenomenally anything like the original. This is why qualia are ineffable, and why we are blind to anything of the surface of the strawberry, other than it's causal properties.
The final result of this perception process is our conscious knowledge. This knowledge is represented by qualia which are unified into the conscious world that is our awareness. This unification process allows us to know all at the same time what the red is like, and how it is different from the green which we represent the leaves with.
Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogisten, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
   "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
   something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
   that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
   observe about life, or to use another example reductive
   physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
   light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
   the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
   ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (Consciousness Explained P 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations is irrelevant.
This long cause and effect chain of representations that is the perception process is initiated by the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE true theory. It will do this by falsifying all theories that claim qualia do not exist, all theories that claim we will never be able to eff the ineffable, theories that claim there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about the representations being used in the remote mind, and have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
A few people claim to be representationalists, while promoting the use of terribly confusing and ambiguous terms such as our representations are 'transparent' in a way that allows us to be aware of what we are looking at. Or they say things like "every qualia is a representation". As soon as you say something ambiguous like our representations are 'transparent' this allows people to quickly jump to the obviously erroneous conclusion that phenomenal red is really on the surface of the strawberry, and that our representations, because of their 'transparency' allow us to be aware of such. You can see terribly confused people struggling with these ideas all over the place because of terribly unclear terminology such as this. See the works of Michel Tye, Thomas Metzinger and others.
When you say something like 'every quale is a representation', again this confuses the issues and does not accurately mechanically portray what is the representation, and what is being represented. Such an idea is what allows philosophers to make terrible mistakes such as thinking: "We don't really have a red phenomenal property, it only seems like we do." We believe it is much more mechanically accurate to simply say qualia represent.
A few so called representationalists also name something they call the phenomenal principle - "That if there sensibly appears to a subject to be something which possesses a particular sensible quality then there is something of which the subject is aware which does possess that sensible quality." And they deny such a principle. We believe such a principle, but think it is much better to simply say our brains use qualia to represent things, and that what these qualia are like, how they are different, and how we are aware of such in a unified way, is critically important to the process.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the causal behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use then 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • In Nov, 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense-datum Theory?" This camp is in the Sense-datum Theory camp.

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.






Note : Change name: Representational Qualia Theory
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Representational and Real



By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious. To better understand this look at a red strawberry and notice all of its qualities. Now close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, you still have some cognitive knowledge of the strawberry which would enable you to still reason about it and pick it. While this kind of cognitive knowledge is important, it is very different than the direct sensory knowledge which is much more phenomenal. When you close your eyes, the direct sensory knowledge ceases to exist while the cognitive knowledge remains. We think the knowledge just goes away because our eyes are closed, but this is merely part of the deception designed into the system. Neurons could simply be redesigned to produce the same phenomenal knowledge, even while our eyes are closed, as happens when we dream. A red quale is a property of this direct sensory knowledge which is the final result of the perception process, not a property of the item reflecting 700nm light which initiated the perception process.
We also believe consciousness to be approachable via the scientific method. Scientific research will not only eventually result in a real demonstrable understanding of what everything in the mind is and how it works, but also eventually allow us to artificially engineer, fix, and significantly improve everything to do with consciousness and the mind.
Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogisten, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
   "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
   something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
   that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
   observe about life, or to use another example reductive
   physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
   light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
   the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
   ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (Consciousness Explained P 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations is irrelevant.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use then 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • In Nov, 2009 David Chalmers et al did a PhilPapers Survey. Question number 21 of that survey was: "Perceptual Experience: Representationalism, Qualia Theory, Disjunctivism, Sense-datum Theory?" This camp is in the Sense-datum Theory camp.

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Add declaration of Sense Datum theory Camp in chalmers' survey.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Representational and Real



By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious. To better understand this look at a red strawberry and notice all of its qualities. Now close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, you still have some cognitive knowledge of the strawberry which would enable you to still reason about it and pick it. While this kind of cognitive knowledge is important, it is very different than the direct sensory knowledge which is much more phenomenal. When you close your eyes, the direct sensory knowledge ceases to exist while the cognitive knowledge remains. We think the knowledge just goes away because our eyes are closed, but this is merely part of the deception designed into the system. Neurons could simply be redesigned to produce the same phenomenal knowledge, even while our eyes are closed, as happens when we dream. A red quale is a property of this direct sensory knowledge which is the final result of the perception process, not a property of the item reflecting 700nm light which initiated the perception process.
We also believe consciousness to be approachable via the scientific method. Scientific research will not only eventually result in a real demonstrable understanding of what everything in the mind is and how it works, but also eventually allow us to artificially engineer, fix, and significantly improve everything to do with consciousness and the mind.
Many people often compare the idea of qualia to many failed theories of the past such as vitalism, phlogisten, either and so on. The problem with many of these arguments is they entirely miss classify the nature of qualia as John Gregg states in his essay on the hard problem:
   "The problem is that subjective consciousness (or qualia) is not
   something we drag into the picture to explain something or other
   that we observe, as elan vital was invoked to explain what we
   observe about life, or to use another example reductive
   physicalists like, as the luminiferous ether was invoked to explain
   light waves in the 19th century. Consciousness is the raw data,
   the observed thing that needs explaining. It is the light, not the
   ether."

People like Daniel Dennett make similar categorical errors when they claim we don't have qualia "it just seems like we do" (Consciousness Explained P 375). The very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. Qualia have to do with the nature of our seeming. Whether or not they are mistaken representations is irrelevant.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use then 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Add John Gregg quote to 4th paragraph.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Representational and Real



By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious. To better understand this look at a red strawberry and notice all of its qualities. Now close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, you still have some cognitive knowledge of the strawberry which would enable you to still reason about it and pick it. While this kind of cognitive knowledge is important, it is very different than the direct sensory knowledge which is much more phenomenal. When you close your eyes, the direct sensory knowledge ceases to exist while the cognitive knowledge remains. We think the knowledge just goes away because our eyes are closed, but this is merely part of the deception designed into the system. Neurons could simply be redesigned to produce the same phenomenal knowledge, even while our eyes are closed, as happens when we dream. A red quale is a property of this direct sensory knowledge which is the final result of the perception process, not a property of the item reflecting 700nm light which initiated the perception process.
We also believe consciousness to be approachable via the scientific method. Scientific research will not only eventually result in a real demonstrable understanding of what everything in the mind is and how it works, but also eventually allow us to artificially engineer, fix, and significantly improve everything to do with consciousness and the mind.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use then 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Enhance 2nd paragraph about qualia.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Representational and Real



By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious.
We also believe consciousness to be approachable via the scientific method. Scientific research will not only eventually result in a real demonstrable understanding of what everything in the mind is and how it works, but also eventually allow us to artificially engineer, fix, and significantly improve everything to do with consciousness and the mind.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenally isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • That we know of, V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein were the first to propose the idea of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. Some people think there is a better term to use then 'eff'. Please see this survey topic and 'vote' for what you think is the best term to describe this process of communicating that which is ineffable.

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Add scientificallyl aproachable, and link to survey 'eff' term.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Representational and Real



By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.

The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenal isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:


  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Add immage and put 'representational' first.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Real and Representational



By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious.
By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.
The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenal isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:


  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Remove "brain linked", and add link to effing in three laws paper
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Real, Representational, and Brain-linked



We are in the Consciousness is Real, Representational, and Brain-linked camp on this 'Hard Problem' issue.


Note : Remove data and just link to the new mind theories camp.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Object Reason : Oops, made the wrong change to the wrong camp.
Objector Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Statement :

Consciousness is Real, Representational, and Brain-linked



By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious.
By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By ' Brain-linked' we mean that consciousness is closely tied to and dependent on the brain.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.
The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenal isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : Change from dependent on brian to 'brain-linked'.
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
Go live Time :
Statement :

Consciousness is Real, Representational, and Part of Our Brain



By real, we mean that qualia are real and that the phenomenal nature of consciousness, or what it is phenomenally like, is the most critical part of what it means to be conscious.
By representational, we mean perception is a representational process with qualia being the final result of the cause and effect perception process. There are no phenomenal properties, that we know of, beyond our abstracting cause and effect based senses, but such phenomenology most definitely does exist in our mind.
By 'part of our brain' we mean that consciousness is closely tied to and dependent on the brain.
In his book: "Consciousness Explained" Daniel Dennett claims we don't experience qualia "It just seems like we do." (P 375). But the very meaning of 'to seem' is to have knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent, making this an obvious logical error; for we are only talking about actual phenomenal qualities, which really has nothing to do with whether such phenomenal qualities are misrepresenting something or not.
We believe the visual perception process to be constituted of a chain of 'cause and effect' real events. The initial event in this chain is the reflection of photons by the surface of a physical object. Intermediate events are those in the retina, optic nerve, optic thalamus, optic radiations and a number of stages in the visual cortex. The final result of the perceptual process is the appearance of a visual sensation in the phenomenal visual field (A). This is associated with the acquisition of cognitive knowledge relating to the external physical object (B).
Processes A and B are mediated by different brain mechanisms. In associative agnosia the patient has intact phenomenology but defective epistemology about visual objects. In blindsight the opposite occurs—no phenomenology but functioning epistemology. Visual phenomenology(A) and visual epistemology(B) are processed by different brain mechanisms and correspondingly lost by damage to these regions.
The word 'red' can be used in its common sense mode as naming a causal property of an external object that reflects 700 nm light such as a common strawberry. But this usage can be misleading or misdirect us from the true location of the important sensation involved and its true phenomenal nature. It is theoretically possible to add an inverter to the optical nerve causing the abstracted red and green signal contained therein to be inverted. This would result in the still reflecting 700 nm light strawberry being represented with phenomenal green, and the leaves to be represented with phenomenal red in the visual field of such a person after such an inverter was activated. Dreams, hallucinated strawberries, after-images, and other things in our visual field can also be composed of phenomenal red.
The fact that a strawberry causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern has nothing to do with a phenomenal quality red other than our brain happens to use phenomenal red to represent it. This is absolutely proven by the fact that we can represent the same thing with an inverted 'green' phenomenal sensation. True phenomenal 'red', like all phenomenal properties, are the final result of the perception process. There is no phenomenal color, taste, warmth, sound, or pain, beyond our senses. There is only the causal behavior of reflected electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, chemical content, kinetic energy motion of molecules, acoustical vibrations, bodily damage or other cause and effect behavioral properties which our brain uses phenomenology to represent.
We think the red strawberry amongst the green leaves we are aware of is out beyond our eyes, and that we are directly aware of it. But this is a misrepresentation. In reality, these sensations are entirely after the perception process, in a conscious spirit world* model of the reality we perceive. Phenomenal properties are not properties of what initiates the perception process, they are properties of the final result of the perception process.
At the center of this phenomenal 3D world modeling reality beyond our senses is our experience of the body-image. This is the model of the physical body that we experience and that is also constructed by a representative mechanism. All somatic sensations, including 'phantom' limbs and phantom limb pain, are located in the body image not in the physical body.
Inside our experience of our body-image is an experience of our "self" or "spirit" or "I". This "I" is represented as looking out of our experience of our eyes within this body image. But of course, this spirit image, unlike most everything else in this phenomenal world, has no referent in reality. However, though it has no referent in reality, this in no way means it does not exist. This phenomenal "spirit" is what we really and literally spiritually are. During "out of body experiences" this image of our spirit* leaves our body-image, all in the phenomenal world of our conscious awareness, all dependent on our brain.
We know the difference between the green leaf and the red strawberry, precisely because of the phenomenal difference between red and green sensations. When there is a red strawberry represented in the left hemisphere (right field of vision) and a green leaf represented in the right hemisphere (left field of vision) we are aware of all this together in a unified phenomenal world. Something, possibly in some way via the corpus callosum, unifies these parts of fields of vision into one conscious whole where we can compare and contrast their conscious differences.
If this theory is true, it will be possible to use similar mechanisms to produce artificial hemisphere like structures integrated into our visual fields that can reliably reproduce various phenomenal sensations upon command within one single phenomenal world of awareness with the red, green, and everything else we are already phenomenally aware of. With such an enhanced mind, we should be able to throw a switch and say something like: 'This is what my red is like'. To which the augmented person may say - "Yes, that is the same as red for me." Or, we might be surprised to find that she represents 700 nm light with something dramatically different. We refer to such a phenomenal communication ability as 'effing' the ineffable.
Various brain interface experiments are increasingly getting close to 'effing' abilities. Just one demonstration of such is documented in this wired article. If we should achieve even a remote and rare but reliable ability to 'eff' the ineffable as predicted by this theory via any such methods this will demonstrably prove this theory to be THE ONE. It will also falsify all theories that claim qualia do not exist or that there is no 'hard problem', or any theories that claim we have been aware of phenomenal properties beyond (or causally upstream from) our senses.
We believe that with such abilities to understand and eff the ineffable, the only remaining requirements for full understanding of the brain will be 'easy problems' of complexity and information theory. In other words, nothing else beyond effing understanding and sufficient complexity and engineering theory will be required to fully read, understand and artificially reproduce conscious minds in their entirety.
We believe it is absurd to think the only way to determine the nature of another consciousness is only through a "Turing Test". To phenomenally know the nature of such, the most important question to ask a something like: "What is Red like?" And to know if the conscious entity is telling the truth, you must know something about whatever it is in the mind that reliably produces these sensations, have the ability to at least causally observe such neural correlates and have something like 'effing' abilities to ground these abstracted cause and effect representations. In other words, you must really know what it is phenomenally like.
There are myriads of theories about just what and how these phenomenal sensations in our visual field are and how they are unified into our phenomenal world of awareness. See the various sub camps to this representational camp for descriptions of these various competing theories.
In a way our skulls are phenomenal prison walls. There are unified, grand and glorious phenomenal spirit* worlds within each of ours, and our spirits exist within these phenomenally lonely worlds. Our cause and effect based senses and their extension via traditional scientific instruments and communication tools allow abstracted communication between these worlds, and about the behavior of the world in general. But, beyond this abstracted information, we are still phenomenal isolated and blind to any phenomenal properties beyond what is in our own world of conscious awareness. When we hug someone, we only know half of what is important.
We believe science is on the verge of getting an objective handle on these blind to traditional cause and effect observation phenomenal properties that will soon enables technologies such as 'effing' the ineffable. This discovery will finally resolve how they work and many other conundrums of self and epistemology philosophy has been struggling with for so long. We believe such a discovery will be the most significant, profound and world changing of scientific achievements to date. For such an achievement will literally ultimately enable the piercing of these spirit prison walls and eventually allow our spirits to be freed into a world that is surely much more than just cause and effect behavior. If this theory turns out to be true our spirit* worlds, in addition to being shared and merged, will soon be growing in resolution, extents, diversity of phenomenal qualities, and many way's we surely can't even fathom yet, let alone know what it will be like.

More Info:

  • There is a canonized list of publications on the issue of representationalism here.

  • This theory makes profound predictions about what things like uploading and "escaping from our mortal spirit* prison" will be like, should it turn out to be true. A detailed description of such predictions in story form is contained in chapters 5 and 6 of the short story by Brent Allsop entitled "1229 years after Titanic" available here: http://home.comcast.net/~brent.allsop


* Note:
It isn't easy to describe what we are talking about here with common English. Terms like 'phenomenal' and 'spiritual' get close, but can also be misleading because these terms are so often used to mean other things than what we are talking about here. Though this 'world in our head' has many similarities to what people commonly think of when they use the term 'spirit world' it should be very clear that what we are talking about here is completely contained in our skull, and is dependent on, or a property of the living matter that makes up our brain. We do believe in 'spirits' as defined here, but we do not believe in ghosts.


Note : First Version
Submitted on :
Submitter Nickname : Brent_Allsop
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