Representational Qualia Theory
Representational qualia theory predicts that our conscious knowledge of things is represented by qualia or intrinsic qualities of something in our head, as indicated in the above image by Steven Lehar. Since this theory predicts qualia are intrinsic qualities of something 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 blind” language
or “qualia blind” models
are anything that only uses one abstract word, like ‘red,’ for all things red. No definition (an intrinsic quality) is ever provided to define a term like red. To find out if you are qualia blind
, take this survey asking: “Are you Qualia Blind?”
or see Objectively, We are Blind to Intrinsic Qualities
which was presented at the Long Island Philosophy Society 2019 Conference
Perception of things is done at a distance via chains of causal intrinsic properties. There are at least the following two sets of intrinsic properties which must be considered if one is not qualia blind
- The intrinsic 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 term ‘red’ is used for anything that reflects or emits ‘red’ light.
- The final result of perception is conscious knowledge of what is being perceived. The different term ‘redness’ is used as a label for these different intrinsic qualities of this knowledge we are directly aware of. We don’t perceive ‘redness’, it is just an intrinsic quality of conscious knowledge we are directly aware of. Redness is the definition of the word “red.”
To not be qualia blind
, you must be able to model or communicate “effing of the ineffable” statements by providing definitions of terms like: “My redness is like your greenness, both of which we call red.”
Most theories of consciousness agree with the general ideas at this camp level. Even Daniel Dennett’s
current “Predictive Bayesian Coding Theory”
is now in a supporting sub camp to this “Representational Qualia Theory”. Many would consider most of the theories in this topic as worthless, or what some refer to as ‘crap in the gap’ theories. “Crap in the gap” is similar to the evolutionary God of the Gaps idea
, and it references the fact that unsupported and unworkable theories have sprung up to fill holes where we lack hard data. The amount of consensus for this theory supports the idea that most people agree we have qualia, the only disagreement is the nature of qualia. Because of qualia blindness
, nobody knows the intrinsic color of anything, and all these theories exist in this gap. Once we discover what it is that has an intrinsic redness quality, all the crap in the gap theories will be falsified. For example, the most straightforward and easiest to falsify theory is Molecular Materialism
. It predicts that something like our description of glutamate reacting in a synapse is a description of intrinsic redness. This is easily falsifiable if anyone experiences redness without glutamate. Once that is falsified, we then substitute glutamate for something else as our working hypothesis of what has a redness intrinsic quality until we find a necessary and sufficient set of descriptions that is redness which nobody can experimentally falsify.
Once we know what is intrinsically red, not only will we falsify all the “crap in the gap” theories, we will finally know what it is in this world that has all the colors. We will have real definitions for all the abstract labels of different colors. With such definitions we will be able to “eff” ineffable intrinsic color qualities to others once we know which physics people use to represent redness, and all the other intrinsic qualities people use to represent knowledge of colors. In other words we’ll be able to bridge the “explanatory gap”
, pierce the “veil of perception”
, and so on.
The supporters of this camp agree that there is no real ‘hard mind body problem,’ and that the only problem is simply a result of sloppy epistemology of color and other intrinsic qualities, smells, and so on. The prediction is that using traditional science in a non-qualia blind way will eventually uncover everything necessary about consciousness to completely take it all apart and put it back together in extremely amplified and computationally connected ways.
Definition of Consciousness
The supporters of this camp define Intentionality, free will, higher order knowledge
, intersubjective knowledge
, self-awareness, desire, love, spirits, and all other similar concepts, including consciousness itself, as computationally bound composite qualitative knowledge. To achieve the minimum required to be considered conscious, you must have at least two pixels, each of which can have at least two different intrinsic qualities, like redness and greenness. These two pixels must be computationally bound, resulting in a “composite qualitative experience”, and that is what consciousness is.
If experimentalists are able to verify these predictions of what consciousness is, this will provide a way for us to do things like build conscious machines. Using the 3 “strong”, “stronger”, and “strongest” forms of “effing the ineffable,” we will be able to objectively observe what other intelligence systems are or are not like. (see Objectively, We are Blind to Intrinsic Qualities
Unification of many theories
The supporters of this camp agree with the general ideas presented in Integrated Information Theory
, Global Workspace Theory
, and Interface Theory of Perception
and that they can be productively unified with Representational Qualia Theory. These theories make attempts to deal with the qualitative nature of consciousness. However, none of these theories provides any kind of insight into how we might bridge the explanatory gap and determine if two people are or are not red/green qualia inverts. They don’t provide an experimentally verifiable definition of qualia that Representational Qualia Theory provides. This is required for “effing of the ineffable” nature of qualia.
RQT describes elemental intrinsic qualities like redness and greenness being “computationally bound together”, but says nothing more about “computational binding”. This is what Integrated Information Theory provides. It denotes the amount of integration by the greek letter phi Φ, which is the same thing as the amount of computational binding of elemental phenomenal qualities. All this integrated qualitative information results in exactly a “momentarily active, subjectively experienced event in working memory,” which is the Global Workspace in the Global Workspace Theory. Finally, this global workspace is what the brain uses as its interface to survive and progress in the world.