Topic: Theories of Consciousness

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Representational Qualia / Mind-Brain Identity / Property Dualism

Camp Statement
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Property Dualism

We believe that matter has two very different classes of properties.
  1. Cause and effect behavioral properties
  2. Phenomenal properties
We know a lot about the causal or behavioral properties of matter. By definition, phenomenal properties of matter are ineffable - they are blind to abstracting cause and effect perception. If we shin some light on whatever it is in our brain that has this phenomenal property, it surely would not reflect the same 700 nm light. It would much more likely reflect some 'grey' or some other brain color. But, again, such reflected light would not be fundamentally or phenomenally anything like 'red'. The grey light would simply represent what our brain uses to represent whatever it is in our brain that has these 'red' phenomenal properties. For a description of how we believe these phenomenal properties can be 'effed', as in 'effing' the ineffable, see the parent Representational Qualia Theory camp.
At this level, although the Consciousness Arises From Anything is the more popular camp, this camp currently has more expert scientific consensus.
We believe David Chalmers is pushing in a mistaken 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, we will see the behavior of something science has already taught us about. It is just that such abstracted information about behavior will not contain any ineffable information about it, or what it is phenomenally like. And we certainly shouldn't expect it to reflect 700 nm light.
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 of particular neural correlates that equally consistently across space and time map into this table.Note 1 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. 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.
Chalmers primary argument centers around Hans Moravec's "Transmigration" thought experiment. We accept the Transmigration Fallacy camp that points out the mistakes being made with this argument.
We believe this theory that nature has fundamental phenomenal properties to have significant implications for Nick Bostrom's Simulation Argument. The idea that we, along with all of our conscious awareness, can somehow 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.
Note 1: We suspect any such mapping from something like red will not be to any single atomic element, but likely at a more complex level. Perhaps it will be some type of interference pattern between a set of elements. The idea is that consistently, something like a set of elements, in a specific active neuronal structure, will always have a particular phenomenal property, and that this will be consistently repeatable in other brains, enabling objective "effing" of what they are phenomenally like. And of course these structures will not reflect 700 nm (red) light when the brain surgeon looks at them

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Current Topic Record

Topic Name : Theories of Consciousness
Namespace : /General/

Current Camp Record

Camp Name : Property Dualism
Parent Camp : Mind-Brain Identity
Keywords : nature, phenomenal
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