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Old 22nd December 2012, 03:32 AM   #81
PixyMisa
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
It is quite hard to argue with you if you about whether everything is just behaviour if you have an axiom that it is.
It's not an axiom, it's just a fact. The world could be different, but it's not.

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I disagree with you, but if you essentially answer all questions "no" I see no way forward. You've doubtless been in enough of these consciousness debates that I'm unlikely to convince you.
Of course you can convince me. It's very simple: Produce a sound argument for your position.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 04:16 AM   #82
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We assume we are conscious beings -- that is the topic of this thread, to try to understand it. The fact is that most of what we do and think happens below the threshold of consciousness. This particularly applies to the formation and defense of beliefs.

Take for example the following statements posted earlier:

Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
It's not an axiom, it's just a fact. The world could be different, but it's not.

Of course you can convince me. It's very simple: Produce a sound argument for your position.
Put the two statements together like that and one gets a whiff of dogmatism. The author seems unaware of the remarkably revealing nature of the statements and how they are said. I think that is because the thinking is happening in the subconscious.

We all believe what we believe; if we believed something else, we would believe that. As a result, we tend to rather too automatically reject evidence that goes against such beliefs as unsound.

I think what we need to do is to try to avoid having beliefs. Instead, only have opinions. An opinion, unless we are "opinionated," doesn't quite have the determination to be "true" that beliefs have.

Of course I make a distinction that is not really a distinction in English. Opinions and beliefs are much the same in ordinary speech. Still, I try to say, "I think," or "In my opinion," rather than, "I believe."

This is a distinction I got from Vietnamese, where a word generally translated "belief" means something we assume is true and never question, and are astonished and usually angered when someone else questions it, while the word translated "opinion" means something we tend to think is true, but sometimes doubt -- or maybe I should say are willing to doubt.

Opinions can be converted to beliefs with meditation -- it is one of the great dangers of meditation that must be watched for. More often, beliefs come from indoctrination, especially during childhood, which is why religions are able to persist in spite of being so irrational, and why they put such emphasis on controlling the education of children.

The people who hold these beliefs hold them as part of the furniture -- they sit on them and use them in their lives without noticing that they are even there.

Opinions can also become beliefs when we argue them. Sometimes I see that in myself -- I throw out some speculation or other, and someone insultingly challenges it. Now I am in danger of what had been a mere speculation becoming my belief.

A recent message surprised me in the seeming intolerance it expressed for any contrary view, even one that is essentially the same as his but with a slight hint of unsureness -- which is the position I have been arguing, consciously, as I am aware that I have my doubts.

Of course, if one is use to fighting with religious types who dogmatically insist on the most irrational stuff, one may be inclined to push everyone who questions the "scientific" view of the world into the same basket. This is subconscious thinking -- thinking with beliefs and failing to identify them as such.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 04:47 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
We assume we are conscious beings
No.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 05:47 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
No.
Back to your old tricks?
And after my infraction, and heart-felt apology?

Shame.
This thread was getting pretty good. I thought.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:19 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
You said, we know that it's all brain function. While that's a fairly safe bet (and indeed I would bet my own life savings, house etc on it) there's just no reason to make that claim.
There is no evidence other way, no magic quantum boojums.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:23 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
All I can say is that one cannot explain or describe qualia; one must just know.
Then that is philosophy not part of the semantic definitions of science, how do you KNOW qualia and not just ASSUME them?

(I can pretty much guess that you are assuming them.)

Do you know much about the neurology of visual perceptions?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:25 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Well of course; indeed, brain tissue has been found in our stomachs. Still, "thinking" does for all practical purposes originate in brain matter.
Sigh yes verbal cognition occurs in the left cortex, but you missed the boat, I wonder how much of arousal and awareness is influenced by the adrenal glands?

How much visual processing occurs in the retina?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:26 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Do you think this experience is caused by something other than chemistry and physics?
I doubt it, this is likely more of the Vague Problem of Definition and the God of the Qualia Gap stuff.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:27 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
If you are not able to explain qualia and you have to "get" it then maybe you should reconsider your hypothesis or definition. Frankly woo use the same reassonning for people which "don't get it"
Yup, just like women are weaker than men, skin color relates to IQ and liberal/conservatives are bad.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:30 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Of course, its karmic energy.

It's not possible to define a modern "materialist" perspective. In the old days one said, "All that exists is matter and the void." Now we know better, since matter is a form of "energy," and it is not really possible to say "All that exists is energy and the void," as, intuitively, we have a far weaker grasp on what "energy" might be than the materialists had on their notion of matter.

For example, we know that energy is conserved, except in an important way it isn't -- its entropy increases. I guess one can say that the energy remains but diffuses. Then, again, is it really conserved? Low entropy energy seems to have come out of the inflation of the cosmos, very early on, in immense amounts.

Well, I meander; my point is that if we don't know what energy is, but can only describe its manifestations, then how can be take a rigidly "physicalist" (nee materialist) approach?
If you were paying attention then you know it is moot, godthought, butterfly dreams, brains in vats and dancing energy are all the same.
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At the same time, what else is there? If there exists forces that cannot be encompassed in a physicalist envelope, then they have to be quite unknowable. End of story. If they exist we will never know it; if they don't exist we will never know it.
Dualism, how parochial.
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As to whether phenomena of our existence such as mind and free-will derive from these unknowable forces, well, of course, we can't know it if they are. We can only know it if they aren't -- provided someone someday has the insight to "physicalize" them.
Yup it is the Gap Thing, there is a Gap so some undefined, incoherent and contradictory ideas must be the solution.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:33 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Ah, you don't get it. I will try to do what you want. Qualia are usually classified in three groups. External stimuli generate one set of these (the internal experience of colors, odors, sounds, tastes, itches, skin pressure, temperature, etc. Internal stimuli generate another very similar set (aches and pains, nausea, hunger, the need to eliminate, etc. A very remarkable third set of qualia are often called emotions and sometimes called drives. They are harder to delineate, and harder to keep separate.
Nope stimuli are stimuli, internal stimuli are hallucinations the rest are stimuli, then there are the perceptions generated by the brain, emotions are a cognitive association with body states represented by the perceptions from the stimuli.

Sigh, drives, what is this the Freudian era?

Hunger is a stimuli and a perception.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:36 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by SHUTTLT
It is quite hard to argue with you if you about whether everything is just behaviour if you have an axiom that it is.
Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
It's not an axiom, it's just a fact. The world could be different, but it's not.
You state it as a fact that there could be something that wasn't behaviour. What are you imagining here? But that there isn't. How in the world would you ever know? If we lived in the world that you claimed to admit the logical possibility of, could you build a device to detect a property that wasn't in some sense a behaviour?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:37 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Nope stimuli are stimuli, internal stimuli are hallucinations the rest are stimuli, then there are the perceptions generated by the brain, emotions are a cognitive association with body states represented by the perceptions from the stimuli.

Sigh, drives, what is this the Freudian era?

Hunger is a stimuli and a perception.
I believe I agree completely.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:38 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I think what we need to do is to try to avoid having beliefs. Instead, only have opinions.
Is that just your opinion, or do you really believe it?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:38 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
No, I appreciate what Frank Merton is getting at.

Consider vision. Most people intuitively think the world looks exactly like what they see.
Then they are wrong, they'see' a perception manufactured by the brain. Most of the color is in fact made up and not directly sensed. The fovea which perceives color is about the same size as a dime held at arms length away, in the visual field. If you consider the small random motions of the eye it is a little bigger, but guess what?

Your brain makes up most of that beautiful sunset. Much less confabulating the visual field in the blind spot.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:39 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Is that just your opinion, or do you really believe it?
I'm getting dizzy.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:41 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Quite the opposite. They may be the only thing that in fact really has meaning.
So you don't mean words in exchange of information between communicants.

You mean brain events that you know little of the study of and just assume your internal ideas and thoughts to be the most correct.


Hmm, if only there was a way to tell which ideas and thoughts more accurately predict the behavior of the world.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:42 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
You might want to look into the thing called "a sense of humor."
has a better definition than qualia?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:45 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Reposted for effect:



Frank's right. Internal mental states are rich with meaning- the opposite of meaningless.

Pixy, most of your posts are interesting and informative, but this is the second time I've seen you play the "meaningless" card in a discussion. It's beneath you.
nonetheless, the terms qualia is incoherent, contradictory and often used as a God of the Gaps.

People make all sorts of unverified assumptions about it and the make bizarre conclusions based upon it.

Most people who have never studied neurology and like to pretend it doesn't study anything.

Again internal stimuli are hallucinations.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:46 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
True, it's not quite so obviously impossible as positing both A and not A, but the definition of a P-zombie is inconsistent under any consistent system of metaphysics. So P-zombies are either impossible to imagine, or require imagining something else that is impossible.
What is logically impossible about imagining a p-zombie? Do you think that it leads to dualism and pushes the problem to somewhere else? Is your argument essentially that dualism is false, hence everything is just behaviour? If so, I wish you would say so plainly rather than just giving monosyllabic responses.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 06:48 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The term I would use is "sentient being," which I suppose probably differs from "conscious being." Any creature that experiences its environment via qualia (rather than, say, just living in it and dealing with things via reflexes) would be sentient.
Sigh, more assumptions.

There us learning and association, I wonder where fuzzy logic comes in to.
Quote:
Consciousness would be more limited to beings that have a mental awareness.
Sigh more vagueness, so what does tat mean?
I bet a mouse has it, and maybe some insects and flatworms.

Very little has 'just reflexes'.
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The two are interconnected and no doubt evolved together, with no clear boundaries. However, consciousness is much more limited to, shall we say, higher mammals and in particular to human beings.

I don't understand you here.

My objective, although that is too strong a word, since all I'm doing is posting opinions in the hope of refining them, is to raise doubts about the prevailing, and, I think, rather arrogant, reductionism and physicalism. The irony may be that I'm describable that way too, as I can't see the possibility of alternatives.

Still, at the present time (and I can see no solution on the horizon), there is no way to physically explain the fact that we experience the world.
Well the people who study perceptions would disagree with you.

But please, continue to make unsupported blanket statements.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:00 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Then that is philosophy not part of the semantic definitions of science, how do you KNOW qualia and not just ASSUME them?

(I can pretty much guess that you are assuming them.)

Do you know much about the neurology of visual perceptions?
You appear to have an approach to science that is known as positivism, which is seriously incorrect.

I say "appear," since of course I cannot diagnose such an illness on just a few postings.

However, an insistence that there can be no a priori understanding of things is a seriously debilitating symptom.

I wonder how you would go about telling me what "blue" is in experiential terms -- that is, not the wavelength, but the sensation that happens when you look at something blue.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:02 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Then that is philosophy not part of the semantic definitions of science, how do you KNOW qualia and not just ASSUME them?

(I can pretty much guess that you are assuming them.)

Do you know much about the neurology of visual perceptions?
Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
So you don't mean words in exchange of information between communicants.

You mean brain events that you know little of the study of and just assume your internal ideas and thoughts to be the most correct.


Hmm, if only there was a way to tell which ideas and thoughts more accurately predict the behavior of the world.
Now you are just simply being rude, and not responding at all.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:07 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I wonder how you would go about telling me what "blue" is in experiential terms -- that is, not the wavelength, but the sensation that happens when you look at something blue.
Personally I wouldn't like to bet an account couldn't be given of this in terms of the properties of the eye, neurology and so forth that allowed someone to talk at length about the colour blue. Some of it is learned of course, but presumably that learning is the process by which the experiences leave their mark on the brain.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:11 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Personally I wouldn't like to bet an account couldn't be given of this in terms of the properties of the eye, neurology and so forth that allowed someone to talk at length about the colour blue. Some of it is learned of course, but presumably that learning is the process by which the experiences leave their mark on the brain.
In time it will be quite possible to pinpoint just which neurons become active and which chemicals get exchanged with which other neurons, and so on. Progress along these lines is steady and seems both useful and interesting.

How does the fact that a certain chemical is passed from one neuron to another while a different chemical is going the other way, or whatever the case turns out, become "blue" in your head?
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:25 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
In time it will be quite possible to pinpoint just which neurons become active and which chemicals get exchanged with which other neurons, and so on. Progress along these lines is steady and seems both useful and interesting.

How does the fact that a certain chemical is passed from one neuron to another while a different chemical is going the other way, or whatever the case turns out, become "blue" in your head?
That all depends on what you mean. If you are saying anything about behaviour or infomation processing, then I feel quite confident that you are wrong. It seems to me there are two things you could be saying:

1. Somehow there is some non-physical aspect to all this and the physics of the brain is not enough to give a complete account of the information processing that goes on in the brain. In which case, surely if one looked hard enough there would be some aspect of the brain that would be breaking the laws of physics.
2. You are talking about the experience of seeing blue in a way that has nothing to do with information processing. The fact that blue, perhaps causes you to feel sad would be purely data processing. The fact that you really actually have an experience of seeing blue and feeling sad is harder to account for in terms of physics and brain states.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 07:42 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
That all depends on what you mean. If you are saying anything about behaviour or infomation processing, then I feel quite confident that you are wrong. It seems to me there are two things you could be saying:
I'm not saying anything beyond that we don't know.

Quote:
1. Somehow there is some non-physical aspect to all this and the physics of the brain is not enough to give a complete account of the information processing that goes on in the brain. In which case, surely if one looked hard enough there would be some aspect of the brain that would be breaking the laws of physics.
This is in my opinion a possible but hard-to-swallow answer. The only change I would make to what you say is that it would be a breaking of known science (I hate the obsolete expression "Laws of physics -- they aren't really laws but repetitively confirmed observations).

Your second choice is irrelevant. My emotional state has little to do with how I perceive colors.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:19 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
In time it will be quite possible to pinpoint just which neurons become active and which chemicals get exchanged with which other neurons, and so on. Progress along these lines is steady and seems both useful and interesting.

How does the fact that a certain chemical is passed from one neuron to another while a different chemical is going the other way, or whatever the case turns out, become "blue" in your head?
Blue is encoded in the visual system output neurons when the red-green and the black-white axis opponent neurons are firing at their default rates, and the yellow-blue axis opponent neurons' firing is suppressed by an excess of short wavelength retinal cone input activity compared to medium and long wavelength retinal cone input activity. The greater the yellow-blue axis neuron suppression, the greater the blue saturation that is coded.

All possible colours are coded by the excess activation or suppression of the three types of opponent neurons in the visual system output; yellow-blue axis, red-green axis, and black-white axis. Once more, see Chimeric Colors: Qualia Revealed?
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Simple probability tells us that we should expect coincidences, and simple psychology tells us that we'll remember the ones we notice...

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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:23 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
You state it as a fact that there could be something that wasn't behaviour.
No.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:26 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
What is logically impossible about imagining a p-zombie? Do you think that it leads to dualism and pushes the problem to somewhere else?
No. It doesn't lead to dualism, it assumes dualism.

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Is your argument essentially that dualism is false
No. My point is that dualism is necessarily logically inconsistent.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:27 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Now you are just simply being rude, and not responding at all.
Not even remotely. The point is that the term qualia is meaningless. You said that yourself.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:30 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Frank's right.
Not so far.

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Internal mental states are rich with meaning- the opposite of meaningless.
Yes, but that doesn't respond to my point in any way.

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Pixy, most of your posts are interesting and informative, but this is the second time I've seen you play the "meaningless" card in a discussion. It's beneath you.
It's not my fault if people choose to bandy about terms with no coherent definition. And if they do, I will make note of it.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:42 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
All possible colours are coded by the excess activation or suppression of the three types of opponent neurons in the visual system output; yellow-blue axis, red-green axis, and black-white axis. Once more, see Chimeric Colors: Qualia Revealed?
Of course colors are encoded. They would have to be. There is an association between what we see and the light entering our eyes.

The details of the code are interesting, but not relevant to the question -- how does the firing of this particular set of nerves (coded, say, to report blue and suppress yellow, or whatever) end up as the sensation of blue in our head?

I must admit I am somewhat entertained by certain others on this board who don't even make an effort to understand the problem, but just engage in fanatical denials.

I will admit that the issue is deeply disturbing: to the point of bringing the entire scientific enterprise, or at least the assumption of universal cause and effect, into some doubt. I also expect that there will someday be found a perfectly good rational insight that deals with it.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 08:52 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I must admit I am somewhat entertained by certain others on this board who don't even make an effort to understand the problem, but just engage in fanatical denials.
You seem to be reading a different forum to everyone else.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 09:18 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The details of the code are interesting, but not relevant to the question -- how does the firing of this particular set of nerves (coded, say, to report blue and suppress yellow, or whatever) end up as the sensation of blue in our head?
A homunculus looks it up on a colour-chart The colour coding output of the visual system is distributed to other cortical areas where it modulates the firing of other neurons, effectively mapping it into the appropriate areas of the visual field representation. It's neurons poking neurons all the way...

Just how the patterns of neural activation flowing across the cortex produce the sensation of self and of a subjective perceptual world, I don't know. But they do. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 10:04 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
A homunculus looks it up on a colour-chartWhereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
I beg to differ on this; one needs to be loud if one is to get answers. We seem to be agreed we don't know. Is there anything more to be said?

Well one thing more. Various outre explanations have been offered. I assure you we are better off admitting ignorance than going down those roads.

By the way, I appreciated your strike-out; I had almost brought up homunculi in my efforts to convey the issue but decided not to because so many around here are so eager to misinterpret.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 10:26 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
We assume we are conscious beings -- that is the topic of this thread, to try to understand it. The fact is that most of what we do and think happens below the threshold of consciousness. This particularly applies to the formation and defense of beliefs.
Maybe you don't understand the term behavior, it covers all behaviors, private, public it does not imply volition.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 10:30 AM   #118
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We still haven't fully explored the deepest parts of the ocean. There is a lot less mystery about it now than there used to be, but there are still known unknowns, and I shan't even dare to mention the unknown unknowns. I could posit that magic lies at the bottom of the sea, and no one could prove me wrong. Instead, however, I'll posit that ocean magic would not be nearly as popular as brain magic, because it doesn't immediately invite the concept that humans are in a special category above "mere" matter.

I'm sure that some think my philosophy is devoid of wonder, or somesuch. From my perspective, though, when I see someone clinging to ideas of special consciousness, I feel sorry for them. I think that they must really hate the universe the way that it is, to feel such an urge to reject being truly a part of it.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 10:45 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
You appear to have an approach to science that is known as positivism, which is seriously incorrect.

I say "appear," since of course I cannot diagnose such an illness on just a few postings.

However, an insistence that there can be no a priori understanding of things is a seriously debilitating symptom.

I wonder how you would go about telling me what "blue" is in experiential terms -- that is, not the wavelength, but the sensation that happens when you look at something blue.
I belief I am a naturalist, I don't know if I am a positivist or not. I tend to call myself a nihilist as well.

Um you can't have a priori understanding, as that is the result of an interaction.

I wonder why you know so little about psychology? And make such statements and assumption about a topic you have little understanding of.

You made the wrong guess.

There are wavelengths that can be described as 'blue' but that is not usually something I would do in perceptual terms.

First off there is the photoreceptor array in the retina, and there will be the response of the photoreceptors to the presence of photon s changing the chemicals in them, which causes a neural interaction, but the retina actually does involve some preprocessing. Most of a compare and contrast style of rings of photoreceptors, and so the signals sent through the optic nerves already contain some bias in information and they already are filtered for s signal to noise ratio.

Then there are the myriad of processes in the visual cortex that go into creating the perception of the visual field. So in neutral terms of JREF formal speak I would say that there are a series of events in the visual cortex loosely referred to as 'visual perception' and that a certain set of them are ascribed in common language to certain values of of the 'color blue'.

However there is a much wider scope and range to language usgae than that, here is central Illinois there is a real difference between the 'clear blue sky of winter at noon' vs. the 'muddied gray blue of the humid summer horizon'. And then just the variety of blues in the sky as twilight moves into darkness, and the variety of deeper blues when there is a moonlit sky and haze.

So just in terms of actual experiences before we add the components of cultural language usage and social usage and the emotional prose experience of color as temperament and emotional experience, there is considerable experience and history in labeling and context of experience. (Much less teh learned and shaped events we call emotions)

then we get into all the associative, culturally informed and socially mediated experience of color, then add the emotional learned associations of color in media and art, etc...

So no, I may engage in careful formal language here in the SMT, but there is certainly a wide array of connotation of the word 'blue', yet at the JREF we strive to discuss the explicit nature of which aspects we are discussing.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 10:47 AM   #120
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post

I must admit I am somewhat entertained by certain others on this board who don't even make an effort to understand the problem, but just engage in fanatical denials.
Do you mean the Vague Problem of Consciousness?

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