Topic: Hard Problem

Camp: Agreement / Depends on Brain / Consciousness is Real / Phenomenal Properties

Camp Statement
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We believe David Chalmers is pushing in the wrong direction in his effort to get a handle on this "hard problem", and that the "Principle of organizational invariance" will turn out to be wrong.
David Chalmers, and others that talk about this hard problem often use the term "physical process" to refer to what physical science tells us about the stuff our brain is made of, and its causes and effects. They contrast this with the subjective nature of our ideas. More often than not, terms like the following are used to relate the two: "arise from", "neural correlate", "results in", "causes", "supervenes on" and so on. We believe all such to be a mistaken terminology leading us away from reality.
We believe the fundamental critical difference, should instead be only focused on the cause and effect behavior, on the scientifically observable side, and the phenomenal qualities on the subjective side. Certainly whatever these are must both be included as physical properties of the universe since the universe, by definition includes all that can be observed and experienced. To say "physical process gives rise to the subjective" is to fail to clearly distinguish between what is really important and the fact that it is all included in the "physical".
We believe that evolution has managed to use something that has a red phenomenal property to represent knowledge of something that reflects 700 nm light, while using something different that has the phenomenal different property, green, to distinguish between and be aware of a different item that reflects 500 nm light. But when we use cause and effect observation techniques to observe whatever it is our brain is using the phenomenal properties of to represent knowledge, certainly we shouldn't expect them to reflect 700 and 500 nm light and so on right?
Any causally downstream effect can represent its upstream referent. We might say it can be behaviorally or abstractly "like" it. While at the same time the more important and more primal phenomenal quality is lost, and the downstream effect is nothing phenomenally "like" it. This is precisely the meaning of "ineffable" and why traditional cause and effect observation can't see them, or rather can only see their behavioral effects.
Yet when there is a juicy sweet strawberry in our left field of vision, represented by red in our right hemisphere, we are clearly aware of this because of its difference between whatever it is in our left hemisphere that has a green phenomenal property representing our knowledge of the leaves in our right field of vision. In this way our conscious world is unified, and we are able to "eff" the primal phenomenal difference between them
Physical sciences have classified natural elements into the periodic table. We know, abstractly, much about the behavior of these individual elements consistently across space, time, temperature, and so on. We believe we will also find phenomenal properties that equally consistently across space and time map into this table. This is why we believe Chalmers is critically mistaken when he claims anything with a fundamental nature like "red" can "arise" from anything as diverse as a properly configured set of water pipes.
Once we learn the process where these phenomenal properties can be unified together into a single world of conscious awareness across multiple hemispheres of our brain, and across time, we will also find ways to share or eff these phenomenal properties between multiple brains, and indeed be able to have our spiritual knowledge escape the ineffable spirit prison walls that are our skulls and discover much more than just the behavior of the elements in this table that make up the spiritual, if you will, universe.
Chalmers uses Hans Moravec's "Transmigration" http://www.leaderu.com/truth/2truth05.html thought experiment to make what many take as a powerful argument for the principle of organizational invariance. You start replacing all the relevant neurons with abstracted silicone counterparts. When you start you have David Chalmers. "The final system, Robot, is in the same situation, processing the same inputs and producing similar behavior, but by hypothesis is experiencing nothing at all." which obviously could not be accurate at all.
There must be something in the robots functionally equivalent mind that is the robots knowledge of the strawberry that is distinguishable from something that is the leaves. One possibility could be a set of ones for red, and a set of zeros for green. So when we ask the robot what red is like, it says (if it is not programmed to lie) it must describe its awareness of red as 1, and its awareness of green to be 0, or whatever abstracted non phenomenal difference achieves the functionally equivalent behavior.
The hypothesis is that whatever it is that has this red property in the system of awareness, when replaced, will be unable to present the same red to the system of unified conscious awareness. Though the behavior could be modeled by using something like abstracted ones and zeros, and perhaps a slightly more complex system to use a lookup table to lie about it being aware of differing red and green phenomenal properties. But certainly any such lying system would in no way be a functionally isomorphic system. And since the primal and phenomenal nature of red and green, and their difference, could not be presented to such a system of unified awareness, when whatever is producing the spot of red is replaced by the silicone equivalent, there must be some kind of vanishing or dancing qualia on that spot of the strawberry in our conscious world of awareness.
If it turns out that it is possible to eff "red" from one side of a brain's hemisphere made of neurons, to an indistinguishable red in a hemisphere made entirely of abstracted behavior running on silicone, then this theory will be proved wrong. We admit such as a possibility. But we believe there will be some type of vanishing, fading, or dancing qualia, and the system will be unable to honestly answer the simple question: what is red like for you, how is it different than green, and it will not be able to give an honest answer that is functionally equivalent on a sufficiently fine grained level.
We believe this theory that nature has fundamental phenomenal properties to have significant implications for Nick Bostrom's Simulation Argument http://www.simulation-argument.com/. The idea that we, along with all of our conscious awareness, can some how arise from a "sufficiently fine grained functional isomorph" regardless of how many levels this functional isomorph is above the basement level is problematic. We believe to even think such is to indicate one's lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of phenomenal properties, and their categorical difference from mere cause and effect behavior. We believe such an idea removes these phenomenal properties so far from hard reality that it would make them completely irrelevant and arbitrary.
Stathis Papaioannou says:
"My reading of Chalmers is that working out exactly what the physical basis of a particular phenomenal quality is well enough to transfer or reproduce it at will would still leave the hard problem of why there should be any phenomenal property at all associated with that particular, or any, physical system."
We especially agree with this within any principle of organization invariance theory. Such does indeed seem like an impossible "hard problem". However, within this competing matter has phenomenal properties theory, we instead accept that it is consistently particular matter, in a particular state, that has particular phenomenal properties, and indeed that the cause and effect behaviors our senses are indirectly observing are likely more accurately portrayed as a cause of particular phenomenal properties rather than the other way around. Within this competing theory, not only are things less arbitrary, the why do these phenomenal properties exist is less of a problem than our lack of knowledge of why nature has particular cause and effect behavioral properties at all. We don't know why force more or less equals mass times acceleration. We just accept that it does, without asking why. And that knowledge alone, despite how incomplete it is, is all that is needed to take us to the stars.
Not only that, but phenomenal properties are much more fundamental and epistemologically absolute than all these mere cause and effect behaviors beyond our senses are. For after all, we could be just a brain in a vat where that brain is composed of nothing more than phenomenal properties, while all this mere cause and effect behavior our senses are allegedly reporting to us, might really just only exist in some artificial matrix somewhere, at some arbitrarily distant levels above any basement reality. At the very least, the most primal and absolute of all things is the phenomenal natures of at least part of that brain in that bucket. I think, and that thinking is phenomenal, therefore I am at least phenomenal.


Support Tree for "Phenomenal Properties" Camp

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Current Topic Record

Topic Name : Hard Problem
Namespace : /General/

Current Camp Record

Camp Name : Phenomenal Properties
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