What is qualia?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun May 17, 2015 6:18 pm

HexHammer wrote:
Nemba pemba wrote:Qualia seems to puzzle many philosophers and people. They say it is 'the how things look'. A person wishing to express it will often ask you to describe such things as colors, hunger smell etc. He might ask you a case where in you are trying to describe say color 'blue' to a blind man. If you lack words, then hopefully you have grasped what the quale of 'blue' means. It is the phantasm.

But I find this way of pointing to quale problematic. If I was to ask you to describe a sphere, you will say something like: a collection of all points equidistant from a given point. And so because a sphere has some realy nice description, one may be tempted to say sphere doesn't come as a quale in our awareness in much the same way as colors does. But this is not the case. Sphere is analogous to say color purple and points is analogous to colors red and blue. And so color purple is nicely descripable as a blueish-reddish color.
Qualia is an predecessor to cognitive abilities, perception.

Some has miswireing so they may get smells when hearing music. Some will hallucinate etc..
Synaesthesia they call that. Sounds like an amazing trip. Seeing the colour of the sound of the waves breaking on the shore.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by marjoram_blues » Sun May 17, 2015 6:40 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
marjoram_blues wrote:I had thought that you had enlightened me as to a problem I had with the experiment and all things related to 'qualia'.
So - felt stupid for my long-standing stoopidity.

Now, I am not so sure...


What did you think I was talking about?
I thought you were being cheeky and ironic.
That's what I thought you thought.
Nope. I was being serious.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun May 17, 2015 7:41 pm

marjoram_blues wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
marjoram_blues wrote:I had thought that you had enlightened me as to a problem I had with the experiment and all things related to 'qualia'.
So - felt stupid for my long-standing stoopidity.

Now, I am not so sure...


What did you think I was talking about?
I thought you were being cheeky and ironic.
That's what I thought you thought.
Nope. I was being serious.
Okay so Mary knows every thing objective you can know about redness, but when she actually sees it, there is no way she can tell it apart from any other colour just be seeing it.
Hence the quality that distinguishes green from red, is "qualia".

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Sun May 17, 2015 7:59 pm

Nemba pemba wrote:Qualia seems to puzzle many philosophers and people. They say it is 'the how things look'. A person wishing to express it will often ask you to describe such things as colors, hunger smell etc. He might ask you a case where in you are trying to describe say color 'blue' to a blind man. If you lack words, then hopefully you have grasped what the quale of 'blue' means. It is the phantasm.

But I find this way of pointing to quale problematic. If I was to ask you to describe a sphere, you will say something like: a collection of all points equidistant from a given point. And so because a sphere has some realy nice description, one may be tempted to say sphere doesn't come as a quale in our awareness in much the same way as colors does. But this is not the case. Sphere is analogous to say color purple and points is analogous to colors red and blue. And so color purple is nicely descripable as a blueish-reddish color.

Perharps a truely amazing question is how different color ends up being interelated. But I am calling it just that; interelationship of qualia. Many are tempted to think of one quale causing the other. It is perharps due to thinking of the couser as not to be a quale itself when it is infact a quale. This is due to the misleadings we saw above. A good example is Isaach Newton and latter Schrodinger wonders how the mind forms the phantasm of colors from say vibrations of light waves. But you should be able to note that it is equally legitimate to wonder how mind forms the phantasm we call 'vibration'.

An interesting case of such a relation of qualia would be the quale of the brain and that of awareness. It is much symmetrical to the relation between color and vibration. We don't see how one logically follow from the other but facts strongly suggest corelation. I guess it is a contingent one.
I would say this: Physically humans can only see what we have dubbed, white light. White light has been dissected into it's constituent frequencies with a glass prism. We know that it is comprised of ROY G BIV or Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. We've also learned of other frequencies of electromagnetic energy, such as infrared, ultraviolet, radio waves, gama, beta, x, and a whole plethora of others. Some cause plants to grow, some metabolize vitamin D, some kill our eyes, some kill our bodies, and a gama ray burst from certain unstable stars could wipe out the entire galaxy. Yet without some frequencies we couldn't live at all. So it's not qualia, it's the physics of the universe, that spells out the difference of colors from the human perspective. Thats why some have the blues, why a red dress signifies wanton love as opposed to a yellow one that speaks of a warm and pure love. It's why black and red are associated with death. Yes, I took film as story in HS. (Sidebar: So what's up with your green Arising, as far as I've been taught it has to do with growth.) My point is that we have a physical relationship with colors. Could that be the connection on every other level?

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Obvious Leo » Sun May 17, 2015 8:04 pm

marjoram_blues wrote:I'm curious as to what it means to be a process philosopher. It seems to chime with my thoughts of 'qualia' as a nonsense term for Western academic philosophers to squabble over. I don't get why there is a problem. When I studied this, a few years ago, I settled on the functionalist view.
Are the two perspectives compatible?
I reckon they are. It seems to me to be simply a re-run of the ancient structure/function question. Are qualia a function of what consciousness is or a function of what consciousness does? Process philosophy comes down squarely on the side of the latter view which means we don't observe reality but rather we MAKE it. Some of us make it rather oddly, like the bloke who mistook his wife for a hat in the extreme case and the synaesthetics in the less extreme case.
Wyman wrote: This is exactly how I see it. :idea: The problem shifts from 'what is consciousness' or 'what is qualia' to 'how is knowledge possible' or 'how is meaningful communication possible.'
The Santiago school of cognition developed by Maturana and Varela defines cognition as a non-linear interactive process which essentially shifts the emphasis of the question in exactly this way. It's still a somewhat revolutionary concept in the Newtonian tradition of western philosophy which has dominated for 4 centuries but in all the major eastern philosophies this idea is older than Sanskrit.
HexHammer wrote:Else it's a carrot for very stupid people/cozy chatters that can spend months discussing back and forth, not really having a fucking clue what they are talking about.
An unkind analysis but not one without merit. Academic philosophers need to keep churning out scholarly dissertations about something incomprehensible so that they can keep their snouts in the public trough. It's a noble tradition.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Obvious Leo » Sun May 17, 2015 8:16 pm

SpheresOfBalance wrote: My point is that we have a physical relationship with colors. Could that be the connection on every other level?
I say yes. In process philosophy the key word in this statement is "relationship". Colour is not a property of light but a property of our physiological interaction with light.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by HexHammer » Sun May 17, 2015 8:39 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
HexHammer wrote:Else it's a carrot for very stupid people/cozy chatters that can spend months discussing back and forth, not really having a fucking clue what they are talking about.
An unkind analysis but not one without merit. Academic philosophers need to keep churning out scholarly dissertations about something incomprehensible so that they can keep their snouts in the public trough. It's a noble tradition.
..yearh, thanks for proving my point..

........sigh!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Sun May 17, 2015 8:47 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote: My point is that we have a physical relationship with colors. Could that be the connection on every other level?
I say yes. In process philosophy the key word in this statement is "relationship". Colour is not a property of light but a property of our physiological interaction with light.
I heard many years ago, when I worked with EME for the DOD, that scientifically, the object in question is not the color we see, rather it's surface is such that it merely reflects that portion of white light, that humans are capable of sensing. Such that when we see white its because the surface is capable of reflecting all the frequencies of "white light," and when we see black, it's because that particular surface is capable of absorbing all the colors contained in white light. So color is a function of surface reflection of particular wavelengths of light. Of course I'm also thinking of red/blue shift in terms of Hubbles law, and spectral analysis. Has there been some new scientific understanding, link please?

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Obvious Leo » Sun May 17, 2015 9:20 pm

SpheresOfBalance wrote:Has there been some new scientific understanding, link please?
Alas no. The philosophy of physics is my core business and the observer still remains the most misunderstood component of any physical system. In Newtonian physics the observer is located outside the system looking in but this is not how the real world works. In the real world the observer is contained within the physical system looking out which specifically means looking backwards down the arrow of time, since the speed of light is finite. We don't see the world as it is but rather as it WAS, which defines an observation as a holographic representation of our own past.

Neuroscience defines this hologram as our cognitive map and it is this map which our current models of physics are modelling. Thus physics conflates the map with the territory and therefore offers us a model of a universe which makes no sense. Kant observed the honourable German tradition of ensuring that his philosophy was unreadable but he summed this problem up quite well in this arresting proclamation:

“(...) Truth, it is said, consists in the agreement of cognition with its object. In consequence of this mere nominal definition, my cognition, to count as true, is supposed to agree with its object. Now I can compare the object with my cognition, however, only by cognising it. Hence my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is far short of being sufficient for truth. For since the object is outside me, the cognition in me, all I can ever pass judgement on is whether my cognition of the object agrees with my cognition of the object”.

It wouldn't win Manny any literary prizes, nor an award at a modern science convention, but it was cutting edge thinking at the time he wrote his "Critique". Any neuroscientist or psychologist of perception would nowadays regard the above as a simple statement of the bloody obvious, but for reasons best known only to themselves the physicists are yet to get on board with it.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Tue May 19, 2015 10:55 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:Has there been some new scientific understanding, link please?
Alas no. The philosophy of physics is my core business and the observer still remains the most misunderstood component of any physical system. In Newtonian physics the observer is located outside the system looking in but this is not how the real world works.

In the real world the observer is contained within the physical system
I see this as the observer being a part of the physical system that is being observed.

looking out which specifically means looking backwards down the arrow of time, since the speed of light is finite.
But since, as you said, the observer is contained within (a part of) the system, that he is observing, is he "looking out" or within as well?

We don't see the world as it is but rather as it WAS, which defines an observation as a holographic representation of our own past.
So you are speaking of the time delay of our senses, and the subsequent calculations about what was sensed, right? Well if so, I believe I understand what you mean, but see the time delay as negligible; what, fractional seconds? And if the delay is quantifiable, and many samples can be taken along the time line, then extrapolation of the now can be ascertained with pretty good accuracy, barring unusual sudden catastrophe. Or am I not following you?


Neuroscience defines this hologram as our cognitive map and it is this map which our current models of physics are modelling. Thus physics conflates the map with the territory and therefore offers us a model of a universe which makes no sense.
I don't see how this is possible unless of course the observer was actually outside the system as with Newtonian physics. Unless of course those observing were more concerned with their interpretation of the observation, as if they are outside the system, instead of "getting into" the observation, from the perspective of being a true part of the system.

Kant observed the honourable German tradition of ensuring that his philosophy was unreadable but he summed this problem up quite well in this arresting proclamation:

“(...) Truth, it is said, consists in the agreement of cognition with its object. In consequence of this mere nominal definition, my cognition, to count as true, is supposed to agree with its object. Now I can compare the object with my cognition, however, only by cognising it. Hence my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is far short of being sufficient for truth. For since the object is outside me, the cognition in me, all I can ever pass judgement on is whether my cognition of the object agrees with my cognition of the object”.
It sounds like he believes he's outside the system.

It wouldn't win Manny any literary prizes, nor an award at a modern science convention, but it was cutting edge thinking at the time he wrote his "Critique".
I can see that, as then Newtonian physics reigned supreme.

Any neuroscientist or psychologist of perception would nowadays regard the above as a simple statement of the bloody obvious, but for reasons best known only to themselves the physicists are yet to get on board with it.
But not if they, not believe, but rather "know," that they are actually part of the system they are observing.

But then mankind has a real problem being honest with himself, let alone others, so I can see the dilemma. Selfish aspirations can obscure ones vision. One would have to truly be one with the observation, and as a man that can often be difficult.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed May 20, 2015 12:17 am

SpheresOfBalance wrote: We don't see the world as it is but rather as it WAS, which defines an observation as a holographic representation of our own past.
So you are speaking of the time delay of our senses, and the subsequent calculations about what was sensed, right? Well if so, I believe I understand what you mean, but see the time delay as negligible; what, fractional seconds? And if the delay is quantifiable, and many samples can be taken along the time line, then extrapolation of the now can be ascertained with pretty good accuracy, barring unusual sudden catastrophe. Or am I not following you?
I don't disagree with what you're saying but you're not following me. The main point I'm making is that the speed of light is finite and therefore what the observer observes is physically non-existent and I intend that this statement be taken literally. At the subatomic scale matter changes its form at the speed of light and thus the true state of a physical system can never be observed, even in principle. In our everyday world the difference may be negligible but negligible is not synonymous with irrelevant. On the subatomic scale it means we can make only probabilistic statements about the behaviour of particles but this does not give us the right to assume that because this is so then such behaviour must be random. On the cosmological scale we can make no real assumptions whatsoever about our observations. We could be looking at a star that blew itself to smithereens 1000 years ago and yet have no possible way of knowing this.
SpheresOfBalance wrote:I don't see how this is possible unless of course the observer was actually outside the system as with Newtonian physics. Unless of course those observing were more concerned with their interpretation of the observation, as if they are outside the system, instead of "getting into" the observation, from the perspective of being a true part of the system.
This is why Newtonian physics is unable to offer a true cosmological model. An observation necessarily places the observer outside the system under observation, therefore Newtonian physics can only model subsystems of reality and not the totality, since the universe has no outside. This has profound consequences for some of the so-called "laws of physics". The second law of thermodynamics, for instance, is universally applicable to subsystems of the universe but is plainly not applicable to the universe as a whole. For 13.8 billion years the entropy of the holistic universe has been decreasing, not increasing.
SpheresOfBalance wrote:But not if they, not believe, but rather "know," that they are actually part of the system they are observing.
The mathematical tools of physics are simply not designed to model reality in this way. Newtonian classical mathematics can never model a physically real world precisely because of the observer problem. The best it can do is offer a mathematical representation of a physically real world, which means that the Newtonian paradigm has no explanatory authority.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Wyman » Wed May 20, 2015 2:01 pm

Leo:
“(...) Truth, it is said, consists in the agreement of cognition with its object. In consequence of this mere nominal definition, my cognition, to count as true, is supposed to agree with its object. Now I can compare the object with my cognition, however, only by cognising it. Hence my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is far short of being sufficient for truth. For since the object is outside me, the cognition in me, all I can ever pass judgement on is whether my cognition of the object agrees with my cognition of the object”.

It wouldn't win Manny any literary prizes, nor an award at a modern science convention, but it was cutting edge thinking at the time he wrote his "Critique". Any neuroscientist or psychologist of perception would nowadays regard the above as a simple statement of the bloody obvious, but for reasons best known only to themselves the physicists are yet to get on board with it.
Although I disagree with your historical analysis of Kant's 'cutting edge' thinking, I generally agree that it is a decent summation of the problem of modern philosophy, usually credited in its origination to Descartes.

Perhaps physicists ignore the problem because 1) to dwell on it is useless (no physics would get done); 2) they are not so much modeling our cognition of reality as they are the 'cognition' of their extremely precise instruments and methods of measurement and observation. Although these latter are of course subjects of the individual physicist's 'cognition,' the fact that the results are thoroughly vetted and repeated by other scientists, along with other factors, really negates the concerns raised by Kant and modern philosophy - doesn't it?

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by hammock » Wed May 20, 2015 8:07 pm

Wyman wrote:Leo:
“(...) Truth, it is said, consists in the agreement of cognition with its object. In consequence of this mere nominal definition, my cognition, to count as true, is supposed to agree with its object. Now I can compare the object with my cognition, however, only by cognising it. Hence my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is far short of being sufficient for truth. For since the object is outside me, the cognition in me, all I can ever pass judgement on is whether my cognition of the object agrees with my cognition of the object”. It wouldn't win Manny any literary prizes, nor an award at a modern science convention, but it was cutting edge thinking at the time he wrote his "Critique". Any neuroscientist or psychologist of perception would nowadays regard the above as a simple statement of the bloody obvious, but for reasons best known only to themselves the physicists are yet to get on board with it.
Although I disagree with your historical analysis of Kant's 'cutting edge' thinking, I generally agree that it is a decent summation of the problem of modern philosophy, usually credited in its origination to Descartes. Perhaps physicists ignore the problem because 1) to dwell on it is useless (no physics would get done); 2) they are not so much modeling our cognition of reality as they are the 'cognition' of their extremely precise instruments and methods of measurement and observation. Although these latter are of course subjects of the individual physicist's 'cognition,' the fact that the results are thoroughly vetted and repeated by other scientists, along with other factors, really negates the concerns raised by Kant and modern philosophy - doesn't it?
In the context of Kant, consensus among physicists would just support that human consciousness is regulated by the same a priori forms of sensibility and understanding / cognition (or whatever necessary conditions for making experience possible). In today-speak, that amounts to most of us having the same operating system installed for outputting interpreted manifestations of an extrospective environment. Thus enabling the intersubjectivity of Kant's phenomenal / material / natural world. Which is to say, even when some of the Machians and neo-Kantians of the 19th century eliminated Kant's things-in-themselves, they would at least have been left with a collective solipsism for themselves if they still clung to that lingering facet of his philosophy of mind.

There are two meanings of "outer" for Kant: The interpersonal, empirically real world of objects in space (the cosmos of outer sense); and a transcendent level that theoretical reasoning takes to be the provenance of influences (or whatever) that get converted into a world of causally interdependent phenomena. The latter being nature itself, the target of scientific investigation, when that term "nature" doesn't refer just to its principles or system of governance. The transcendent or so-called "noumenal" side was accordingly not a proper subject for physics, which dogmatic metaphysics had been erroneously and futilely asserting claims about for centuries. Since it lacked the spatiotemporal character of the Sensibility (kind of like the absence of everything which follows death or non-consciousness in materialism], the categories of the Understanding could not validate anything about the transcendent version of "outer" (concepts without intuitions are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind). Practical philosophy, OTOH, was allowed to venture items of freedom and ethics upon that blank territory; but only because it did not deal in the boot-thumping "proofs" and unmitigated convictions of an earlier, unreformed speculative philosophy.

In Kant's future, physics and mathematics were granted the capacity to perpetually crank-out new discoveries in mathematics and natural philosophy (science), since this was always the continuing investigation of the empirical outer world; not the study of the supersensible "external realm" descended from the Greeks.
Kant wrote:In mathematics and natural science the human Reason recognises indeed limits but no boundaries, i.e., [it recognises] that something exists outside itself [transcendent version of "outside"], to which it can never attain, but not that it can itself be anywhere terminated in its inner progress [of the phenomenal world and the unfolding process of a quantitative discipline]. The extension of our views in mathematics and the possibility of new inventions reaches to infinity; and the same can be said of the discovery of new qualities in Nature, and of new forces and laws, through continued experience and the union of the same by the Reason. . . . Natural science will never discover for us the inner [nature] of things [things in themselves], namely, that which is not phenomenon, but which can still serve as the highest ground of the explanation of phenomena. But it does not require this for its physical explanations; nay, if such were offered it from another source (e.g., the influence of immaterial beings), it ought to reject it, and on no account to bring it into the course of its explanations, but invariably to base these on that which pertains to experience as object of sense, and which can be brought into connection with our real perceptions, and empirical laws [i.e, indirectly via experiments]. [Prolegomena To Any Future Metaphysics]

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed May 20, 2015 11:56 pm

Both of the above posts reflect my own understanding of the Kantian metaphysic. As a philosopher of physics this is the understanding that I take into my own analysis of the "problem of the observer", which remains the single most intractable problem in physics and is the cuplrit behind the vast suite of counter-intuitive paradoxes which our current models of physics imply. Kant would insist that no amount of inter-subjective agreement could add up to an objective reality and that the "ding und sich", or noumenon, must forever lie beyond direct human scrutiny. The logic of this proposition is flawless and this creates a considerable dilemma for physics, which is a science entirely based on observation. No matter which way we slice and dice it the physicist cannot model the universe the way it is, he can only model it the way he thinks it is. In other words he can only model his assumptions.

This is where Leo becomes an unloved pariah when he ventures into the cloistered world of physics forums because Leo is a simple country lad who insists that a real model of the universe is one which should make sense. Since our current models of physics fail to meet Leo's exacting criteria he draws the only conclusion left available to him. Our physicists are modelling a false a priori assumption, a conclusion that Herr Kant would heartily agree with.

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Re: What is qualia?

Post by Ginkgo » Thu May 21, 2015 1:04 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Ginkgo wrote: I am not clear in terms of the relationship between Chalmers and Newton. Are you saying that Newtonian mechanics is promoting some type of dualism?
Very much so. Newtonian reductionism is an entirely dualist notion because it places the observer external to his observation. This defines the observation as a timeless snapshot of the world. The monist perspective of Leibniz, however defines the observer as intimately interwoven into his observation as part of a dynamic process which occurs in time. Process philosophy is non-Newtonian and thus the "hard problem" does not exist. I've actually met David Chalmers and he's a charming bloke but we operate in different magisteria when it comes to matters to do with cognition.
I tend to think that a theory is dualistic if dualism is contained within the methodology. I don't see dualism in Newtonian mechanics.

I haven't met David Chalmers, but I have communicated with him via e-mail. He does seem like a very affable person.

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