A new hypothesis for qualia will be offered implicitly in the following critique of 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. "
It is true that redness is not a property of physical objects, but the framing of perception as a process with an 'initial cause' and a 'final result' already assumes a linear mechanism rather than a collaborative relation. Human perception is indeed nested within or predicated upon many other layers of detection on the somatic, cellular, molecular, and atomic levels, and that nesting does entail latency and causality, but the experiences themselves are not the cause or effect of a mechanism. Such a mechanism is nonsensical by the infinite regress of homunculi. The experiences themselves are caused by capacities of the subject to relate to object.
>"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."
Indeed, the realization of the truths of perception should rightfully deserve a Copernican revolution, but the Representational Theory of Qualia is only an early step on the path. Once the flaws of a universal model based on 'information' are exposed, we must move on from representation to presentation itself.
>" 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."
This is a bad sign. Consensus of minds steeped in the assumptions of the past century are no indication of progress. Would Copernicus or Galileo submit heliocentric theory in a forum like this in their day, they surely would have been ignored and shouted down by the experts and laymen of the time. Popularity is not a sign of truth, nor does the enthusiasm with which the two are conflated here imply a promising forecast for this method of vetting arguments.
>"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."
This puts cartness begore horseness, if you will. If you start by fallaciously assuming that information is a reality independent of perception, then you wind up demanding that interpreted symbols must have real referents rather than the other way around. Why must something 'be' something other than what it is? Information is not an independent entity, it is just the condition of being informed (internally changed) by experienced events.
>"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 goes further down the wrong path by assuming from the start that we interpret our senses rather than recognizing our senses themselves as our only way of interpreting. Not just our sense organs but our neurological sensemaking which extends and elaborates internally as thought and feeling as well as externally as peripheral sensation. Sense is not abstract, it is concrete. Making sense of something is a sensorimotive event with a neurological correlate, not an abstraction floating around in a disembodied state.
1. Blue is not a representation of 'abstract information'. Information is the abstract representation, not qualia. Qualia are the concrete presentations themselves. When explaining qualia, it misses the point completely to assert that what actually is 'doesn't matter'. Whether qualia matters or not doesn't matter. It's usefulness in our capacity to interpret is irrelevant to what makes it possible for blue to look blue at all.
2. Not true. Color does not need to be interpreted to be experiences. Blueness itself may have many meanings and associations, some personal, some cultural, some visually universal. It is a visual feeling that need not correlate to any particular referent.
3. Not necessarily true. Not all representation is anomalous. Some qualia have iconic properties rather than just indexical or symbolic. Blue could very well be a concrete presentation of molecular experiences which are visually universal, whether or not any individual's ability to tell the difference between one hue and another has been developed to recognize it.
> "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. "
This is an attempt to explain qualia by making it irrelevant. Is the relevance of a beautiful sunset merely to inform the perceiver that it is no longer daytime? Or that the Earth is rotating? If so, it was not very successful in imparting the fact of the Earth's rotation for most of human history. The truth is that qualia have no functional validity whatsoever. There is no plausible adaptation value to a fictional abstraction layer in consciousness when any 'information' would be transmitted much more effectively as itself directly. A computer can run programs just as well with or without a monitor plugged into it. All programs running on it must be compiled into the same binary instruction code - no poetic adornments are required or recommended to improve function.
>"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.
A computer requires a user to make any sense of what is being processed. Without a user, all that is going on is not even 1s and 0s but semiconductor switches holding and releasing current and being able to make sense of the difference.
"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.
Not necessarily. We can also imagine or dream visual sensations without any correlation to any external physical objects. We can see patterns of pure color with no cognitive content.
>" 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 occursâ€”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.
Yes! This should be a clue though that neither phenomenology nor epistemology supervenes upon the other. This directly contradicts the axiom of information theory mentioned earlier as it demonstrates at the level of human consciousness information without representation and information without qualia.
"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.
Right! There is nothing red about 650nm electromagnetic radiation. Red is a sensorimotive experience of ocular and neural microbiota scaled up to a larger and slower inertial frame. The red that we see is biological, mammalian, and hominid as well as physical. There is a correlation with physical changes of that frequency (~461,200 Hz) and molecules within the retinal cells of course, but our experience does not represent those changes, it presents changes which relate to our experience as whole persons in an anthropologically scaled view of the 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.
No, perception is not a solipsistic simulation. The fact that our phenomenal strawberry does not match the measurements of all possible observers and instruments does not mean that the realism of the strawberry is not as authoritative as any or all other measurements. Multisense realism proposes that our naive perception is a valid, albeit cumbersome frame of reference in the universe. We are seeing a red strawberry. A camera is detecting something that is not a strawberry, or a fruit, or a living organism, but it's own molecules response to illuminated objects in its environment.
Consider how specular reflection works. We see images in a mirror or reflective puddle and we can either look at the mirror's surface, or we can look through the mirror at another view of our world. This can help us understand how light, sense, and qualia work. Neurological and ocular processes are like the silvered glass through which we look. Our visual sense is a channel of sensitivity which uses the brain and eyes as vehicles to inform the living person they belong to.
>"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.
It's not a representation, it is *the* natural presentation of a human organism to itself. It refers to nothing other than itself. It is the physical maps and models based on instrumental measurements on other scales of perception which re-present and extend this presentation.
>" 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."
Yes, but it's not just an image, it is the fully realistic body as experienced by the person whose life it is. Think of the self as the entire autobiography of a person as a simultaneous coherence. A lifetime presented across a topology of space instead of events and experiences through time. The body is a character in this narrative.
>"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?"
The privacy of qualia is likely the same as the degree to which individuality itself is unique. As humans, our qualia may vary slightly from person to person to some extent, but not as much as it might outside of our species. There is no reason to assume multiple languages of human qualia as we all seem to find easy agreement in most common qualities, even though there is variance from culture to culture on the significance of those qualities.
>"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."
From what we have seen so far, the kinds of neurological activity in one brain associated with redness are also present in a blind person's visual cortex, only experienced as tactile qualia. There is nothing in the activity of the nervous system to suggest the possibility of any specific qualia.
>"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."
This agrees with multisense realism. Consciousness is that which rises to the level of attention of the whole person so it's footprint spans more of the whole brain.
>"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."
Synchronization is important because consciousness is 'made of' temporal experience. Things that happen at the same time and recur at the same rates are associated with each other figuratively.
>"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.
Yet the entire relationship can be recalled from memory (with varying degrees of fidelity) as a single narrative. Barring a centralized homunculus in the brain which decompresses encoded memories into a Cartesian theater in different regions of the brain, we must consider the possibility that the brain has an identity which is conserved across all of it's regions. Neuroplasticity suggests this as well. The particular capacities of the brain can mobilize to other areas to route around damage.
"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.
Sure, there are brain conjoined identical twins already. If we studied how two brains share the same nervous system, we should be able to artificially conjoin our nervous system to a networked interface that could feel though any appropriately configured device or share private subjectivity with others.
"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."
Just as a human body has eyes and ears dedicated for particular sense channels, every organism has structures appropriate for it's scale and complexity. We devote regions of our brain to the administration of emotional significance, but something like a worm or amoeba has its equivalent embodied in a simpler way - as organelles or the body as a whole. This is not to say that worms have emotions like people have emotions, but they probably know warm and moist versus dry and exposed.
>"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."
Delivery of qualia should not be confused with the qualia themselves. That we are excited or not by something, say gambling, does not mean that gambling is nothing more than the fact of our being excited by it.
>"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.
Seeming is like the optimists half full/half empty glass. If you presume a fixed referent to begin with, then seeming always falls short of that absolute measure of accuracy. In reality, all measurements however are forms of seeming and there may not be fixed referents as such. Looking at it from the subjective view, seeming is a miraculous way of detecting and associating without having to understand every possible observer's range of presentations of a given referent. Seeming is much more ontologically impressive than simple accuracy. Seeming is genius. Seeming is sense.
"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."
They are right but haven't articulated it well. It's not transparent, it is specular. Neither solipsistic 'representation' nor direct revelation of a literal universal identity, what we perceive is the cumulative entanglement of the significance of experiences. Just as this sentence evokes the understanding of English written language without having to be consciously translated from pixels on your screen, our perception is shaped by our own condensed experience as well as the condensed experiences of our tissues, molecules, planet, etc. Sense recapitulates. It bridges gaps, connects the dots, jumps to conclusions, etc. It is not a passive bombardment by external stimuli, it is an collaborative yet private participation. We are antennas of antennas. Not just gears and processors, but tuners and directors.
"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 â€¦.
" 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."
The confusion is alleviated when we understand that our world is the interference pattern of multiple perceptual inertial frames. Our world is indivisible and real on an antrhopological level - as real as a quark or galaxy, but our world is not accessible from every other frame of reference. You need to be a person to experience a person's world. A metal detector or brain image scan doesn't live in our world, it lives in it's own world which overlaps with ours in certain ways which can inform and extend our view, but it should not be confused as a replacement.
>"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'."
It depends what we mean by physical. If physical means object properties like density, mass, specific gravity, and relative position, then no, qualia are not like that. If we mean that they are concretely real and an aspect of the same reality which is shared by electromagnetic phenomenology then yes, qualia is a sensorimotive dynamic inherent in all matter and not in empty space. Qualia is literally energy, but not from the experiential perspective rather than the computational perspective. All energy is the experience of some volume of material in the most universal sense of material interaction. When we view experience outside of our own intertial frame, it is in 'black and white' - devoid of subjective significance. We experience it as mere patterns of material change. A signifying, generic. The opposite of our own proprietary feelings about the powerfully significant (gigabit colors) patterns of semantic change in our own life.
>"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."
Organization is indeed important, but it is the matter itself which is being organized which is equally important. You can't make a computer out of steam and you can't make a living cell out of plutonium. It can be argued that the matter itself is just an organization of quantum, and that may be true, but the qualities of matter cannot be predicted purely from the abstraction of their organization. Hydrogen does not have to have the characteristics of hydrogen in all possible universes. Goldness does not arise inevitably from the 79ness of it's nucleus. It is the organization of experience, of history and rhythm to which qualia owes it's character, not to just to the function of the mechanism (generic objects across space) associated with it.
"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."
There is truth to these propositions, but that truth is overstated. Yes, subjectivity is private, and the more subjectively rich it is, the more private and ineffable. This doesn't mean that the world in which we participate is not the real world or that what we share with each other is not authentic. To the contrary, it is as real as any possible world, and between members of the same perceptual inertial frame, it could be said that the shared world is 'more than real', from a physics standpoint.
>"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.
We will hopefully be able to begin to record and play some semblance of encoded subjectivity at some point. As far as predicting what a new primary color could look like I think we are a long way off.