Topic: Theories of Consciousness

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Representational Qualia / Dualism

Camp Statement

Dualism


Dualism predicts it is critically important to distinguish between two categorically different natures of reality. The classic idealized example of perceiving a "red" strawberry is often used to point out the two very different important parts of perception. The behavioral property of reflecting something like 650 NM light is the initial cause of a perception process and is the idealized example of a 'causal property'. In contrast the final result of the perception process is our knowledge of such. Such knowledge is made up of or experienced as phenomenal qualities or qualia, such as redness. As David Chalmers Says, both of these natures are "Part of the basic furniture of nature." Up to the Problem of Consciousness", Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3), 1995, pp. 200-219.
Various Dualists are proposing different testable theories, as represented in the competing sub camps about just what the relationship is between these two types of natures of fundamental reality. Functional Property Dualists predict the relationship has to do with functionality. If you can find the right "functional isomorph", you'll know it is the right redness. Material Property Dualism, on the other hand simply predicts something like glutamate has a redness quality. Without the right fundamental stuff, no redness. Substance Dualism theories predict it is some entirely different spiritual substance, and the associated new causal properties, likely in some kind of 'higher dimension' that has or is responsible for these phenomenal qualities.

Ineffable Qualities Suffer from the Quale Interpretation Problem.

What does it mean for a quality to be 'ineffable'? Obviously, when we hear an abstract word describing a phenomenal quality like 'salty', unless we know how to interpret such an abstract symbol, we can't know the fundamental phenomenal quality it is meant to represent.
Of course, any symbols representing abstracted information, must be defined before we know how to properly interpret them. But abstracted information about fundamental phenomenal qualities is very different than abstracted information capable of describing and modeling causal behavior. Just as, in the Macro Material Property Dualism camp statement we've provided a set of abstracted words that describe the behavior of things in the Idealized effing theory world, including the fact that the brain will say things like - "yes, that is my redness", in response to glutamate, and "that is my greenness", in response to glycine, and - "Wow, I've never experienced that before in my life" to something that has never been properly configured in his brain before then.
To help better understand the difference between abstracted information that must be properly interpreted to reproduce the right behavior, and fundamental phenomenal quality information, and the general quale interpretation problem, let us at least temporarily use the trivial Idealized Effing Theory World as our working hypothesis. This should allow us to more easily communicate some general ideas that are possible, given the predictions made by this idealized theory. These effing methods should then be generalizable to the predictions being made by most other leading theories.
In that idealized model, it is glutamate that has the redness quality we experience. Glutamate, however, reflects white light. So, obviously, if we detected such in our brain, representing the strawberries, and assumed it was just white stuff, especially if we assumed it had a whiteness quality, we'd be making the classic incorrect interpretation of what it's fundamental qualities were really like. This is the classic example of the quale interpretation problem.

Weak effing of the ineffable

If we discovered, for example, that we could reliably predict that glutamate was the only thing in nature that can be experienced as my redness, then objectively 'effing' what such was like to another person could be as simple as showing someone colored items till you saw that person's brain use 'glutamate' to represent that person's knowledge of such. If the person represented green leaves with such, rather than the stawberry, we could inform the person that their red and green quale were inverted from mine.
Of course, in this theoretical world a problem would arise if some people didn't have the ability to produce glutamate at all, and or had never experienced my redness in their entire life. Maybe some people simply represent their visible knowledge with something very phenomenally different than me. In such cases, it would require that we 'repair' or 'enhance' that person's mind so we could 'throw the switch' for this person. Once we did such they would say something like: "Oh my eff, so that is what your redness is like! I have never experienced anything like that before in my life." Obviously, this type of brain augmentation is a more capable type of effing of the ineffable.

Strong effing of the ineffable

The possibility of a much stronger type of effing was, that we know of, first proposed by V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein in their seminal Three Laws of Qualia paper in 1997. They described a method of effing the ineffable (though they didn't call it such) by connecting two brains with a bundle of neurons that would enable whatever this binding mechanism is to bind the two brains in a way that both would experience whatever it is that is responsible for the quale they could then both experience.
In summary, there are 3 different types of effing being predicted by these early emerging consensus theories:
  1. Weak: Having reliable maps of whatever neural correlates reliably have or are responsible for all possible fundamental qualia. We must know the necessary and sufficient objective conditions to reliably and consistently predict when one is or is not experiencing all possible fundamental phenomenal qualities. Then observing such necessary and sufficient conditions in other minds via any traditional cause and effect methods and informing the person experiencing such what others use that quale for.

  1. Stronger: Augmenting someone's brain with the necessary and sufficient capabilities to experience any arbitrary phenomenal quality including phenomenal experience the person's brain wasn't previously capable of producing.

  1. 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 to a sufficient level required so two minds can experience the same physical qualia, just as two hemispheres can do through the corpus callosum.


Classic Qualia vs Lite Qualia

Representational Functionalism is currently the most signifidcant competitor to Dualism. While both camps completely agree with the importance of qualia, that we will be able to eventually eff such, and everything else in the parent Representational Qualia Theory we differ in our definition of qualia. While they define quale in a much more 'lite' or ambiguous way, (for us 'hand wavy' and 'a miracle happens here' way) we define qualia in more classic ways as explicitly being something other than what can be represented by abstracted information, such as ones and zeros, without knowing how to properly interpret such.
Also, we take the 'Physical Law of Information described in the parent camp we all agree on, as something that is much more fundamental. Supporters of Representational Functionalism are generally supportive of the ideas promoted by Daniel Dennett. People in his camp have argued that we don't have qualia "It just seems like we do" Explained P. 375. Supporters of Representational Functionalism have acknowledge what should be an obvious mistake in any logic built on such a statement.
Property Dualism provides a rigorous definition of what it a 'seeming' is. It is simply producing knowledge which doesn't accurately represent its intended referent. Such a "seeming" interpretation can be simulated by any hardware simply producing knowledge that doesn't accurately represent its referent. The inaccurate knowledge is the 'seeming'.
People working with these types of more complex and increasingly vague hypothesis or 'a miracle happens here' definitions, tend to further utilize the lack of rigor in the definition of 'to seem'. They may first jump to a conclusion such as perhaps Dr. Dennett doesn't really mean what he is saying. Perhaps, they might be tempted to think, he really intended to say that we do have qualia or knowledge, it's just that if we think qualia are something more than bits of information, this thinking is what is really mistaken. People initialy realizing these errors, and then responding with this kind of increassingly vague complexity, can be folowed in the Asking Dan Dennett thread of the topic forum. But to us this is a classical example of a philosopher using terminologies that are so complicated and ill defined that nobody, including the ones using them, can realize the errors.
If you go beyond this and take rigor, down this kind of increasingly complex and vague rat hole, you still see the same old problem and lack of any simulatable definitions of what anything means. The bottom line is, if you know something, there must be something that is that information. If it 'seems' some way, there must be something that is that seeming - which cannot be mistaken. The so called "hard problem" is about what the seeming is like, and has nothing to do with whether it, or anyone's thinking about it, is mistaken or not. If you are claiming any of these kinds of mistakes are possible, you should rigorously define exactly what you mean by such, in an at least simulatable way.

Dualism and Popular Religious Beliefs

Religious beliefs have always tended towards various types of dualism starting with Descartes Cartesian Dualism which has become the what most religions predict we spiritually are. A goal of this top level dualism supercamp is to capture and survey for the essential elements of all 'dualistic' theories of consciousness in the various sub camps.
At the center of this 'spiritual' if you will world in our head, there is our knowledge of our body. Similarly, our knowledge of our 'spirit' is represented as residing just behind the eyes, looking out of them as if the eyes were windows. Just because this knowledge of our spirit, unlike our knowledge of our body, doesn't have a referent in reality doesn't imply that it is any less real or less important. Sure, there isn't a 'real' spirit it represents, but this spiritual knowledge, with no referent, is more real and more important than anything else in reality.
Any good theory of consciousness must consistent with, or at least account for these popular 'spiritual' beliefs. Dualism predicts when we have out of body experiences, such is simply our knowledge of our spirit leaving our knowledge of our body image, all in our knowledge of the world. We think it is very telling that one's own spirit is much more of a cloud like casper the friendly ghost - while descriptions of 'apparitions' of other 'spirits' are much more like their physical bodies, or at least one's memories of their knowledge of such.
Naive people often mistakenly use 'spiritual' evidence to support mistaken theories about our spirits. For example, when someone has a limb amputated, they take the 'phantom limb pain' and the associated spiritual knowledge of the amputated limb having this pain, as evidence of a body independent or ghost like spirit. This theory predicts we do have such a 'spirit' it's just that this spirit is just our knowledge or 'body image' which doesn't get amputated with its referent.
Similarly, one person, during a so called 'near death', 'out of body' experience, was climbing a very long stairway up into the sky. She experienced the sky as a 'shade of blue' she tried to find in reality, in any color palate, but she described that she was unable to find any such color in reality. She took this as evidence that she had visited some place very different than this reality. Again, this theory predicts that this new shade of blue is simply some other neural correlate of a phenomenal quality, not yet normally used by her brain to represent what her eyes can see.
When thought about in certain ways. All the 'spiritual' things people describe, such as spirits leaving one's body, going through walls, colors they have never experienced before, and so on, these are all very accurate descriptions of this spiritual world being produced by our brain - and our spirit which is still trapped and phenomenally alone in this spiritual world.
Another example of religious beliefs is what Mormons believe about "spiritual matter". In 1843 Joseph Smith was clearly breaking away from the popular cartesian dualism of his day. In their canonized Doctrine and Covenants section 131 it states:
  7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter.
  All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure,
  and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

  8 We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified
  we shall see that it is all matter.

Anyone would be hard pressed to better describe these emerging expert consensus theories with this many words. Property Dualism is literally predicting the same thing that Joseph Smith predicted: That redness, greenness, and all ineffable properties we experience are one and the same as these types of 'spiritual' qualities. And the prediction contained here in, that we will soon be able to see them with purer eyes, via the various effing of the ineffable techniques being predicted by the various sub camp theories. If any of these effing theories are borne out by demonstrable science, this would be the literal rending of this spiritual veil of perception as our spirits are finally enabled to break out of their lonely mortal worlds, where they can join other spirits. As Kurzweil predicts the entire universe will finally spiritually 'wake up' and no longer be spiritually alone.

Support Tree for "Dualism" Camp

Total Support for This Camp (including sub-camps):
23.5

Current Topic Record:

Topic Name : Theories of Consciousness
Name Space : General

Current Camp Record:

Camp Name : Dualism
Keywords : Dualism
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Related Nicknames : No nickname associated