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Old 23rd December 2012, 08:49 AM   #201
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Yes, neurons are not sentient; brains are not sentient. What is sentient we call mind, but that seems to be not a "thing" but a process of neurons doing what they do.

The analogy to the computer game doesn't work very well, does it?
The game is a process; mind is a process.
None of the parts of the computer play the game; neurons aren't sentient.
The computer isn't the game; the brain isn't sentient.
The game is not a 'thing' but a process that happens when the computer is active and its components are running a particular program; the mind & sentience happens when the brain is active and in a particular state.

I think it works well enough, as far as it goes. Which part(s) do you feel are not sufficiently analogous for whatever you had in mind?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 08:55 AM   #202
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
It's a common perception here on JREF that qualia is just a thing philosophers talk about but neuroscientists know it is all nonsense.

But actually, that isn't the case. I studied Neuroscience at one of the top universities for that subject (UCL) and the clear explanatory gap in how brains can "make" sensations was readily acknowledged. And as a second anecdote I see there are two books beside my PC here; both were written by neuroscientists accepting of the hard problem of consciousness (V. Ramachandran and D. Eagleman).

Indeed I would say there are more qualia "believers" among neuroscientists than guys in the Dennett camp. Obviously that doesn't make the opinion right, I'm just saying this isn't a matter of science vs "mind wanking".
So qualia of the gap then.

The bottom line is qualia is a philosophical attempt. Wake me up when it touches something akin to falsification, experiment and so forth. It is a philosophical stuff, without prediction power toward neurology science.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:01 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
The game is a process; mind is a process.
Yes

Quote:
I think it works well enough, as far as it goes. Which part(s) do you feel are not sufficiently analogous for whatever you had in mind?
I don't see that there is nothing produced in the game that might be analogous to qualia.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:03 AM   #204
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
So qualia of the gap then.

The bottom line is qualia is a philosophical attempt. Wake me up when it touches something akin to falsification, experiment and so forth. It is a philosophical stuff, without prediction power toward neurology science.
Quite. Many neurologists will say they see that there is a problem but they have other interests, such as things like the uptake of oxygen by a certain cluster of cells.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:22 AM   #205
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Here's the problem: The term qualia was originally invented, later popularised, and is most widely used in philosophy to represent a concept that is either logically inconsistent in itself or requires a logically inconsistent framework for meaning. As such, the term is meaningless and the discussions revolving around it without merit.

Some people use it without all that baggage as a shorter term for "subjective experience". But subjective experience poses no epistemic problem for science they way philosophical qualia would (if they could exist); just the usual ones of hypothesis and evidence.
I've always taken "qualia" to mean "subjective experience". Perhaps you could give an example of a definition of qualia you find incoherent?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:25 AM   #206
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
There is no doubt that neurons are needed. They are just not sufficient.
Evidence?
Seriously? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurochemistry
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Old 23rd December 2012, 09:28 AM   #207
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa
Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
We assume we are conscious beings
No.
You need to explain your position. What are you "no"ing?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:01 AM   #208
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Originally Posted by SusanB-M1 View Post
thank you for reply. Although we cannot experience being a bat, or a rock, scientists can develop ways to observe, test and learn a great deal about them and will continue to do so. There may be a limit to our ability to experience, but not, I think, to research and knowledge about things.
Where is it written that research and knowledge don't have limits? There are demonstrably limits on what can be known.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:13 AM   #209
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The neurons do not "see." They do not "experience." The mass of neurons that is the brain does not do those things either. Only the mind.
Mind is what brain does.

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The neurologists are abuzz, and have been for over a decade, about this problem, and have done so without becoming Buddhists or whatever. I don't see an answer; I don't see the possibility of an answer. It is a serious problem.
It's a serious argument from incredulity. You don't see an answer. You don't see the possibility of the answer.

An answer has been presented to you, and you have raised no coherent objection. Ball's in your court.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:13 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
I studied Neuroscience at one of the top universities for that subject (UCL) and the clear explanatory gap in how brains can "make" sensations was readily acknowledged.
Um, UCL didn't teach you the difference between sensations and perceptions?

Now a gap in a full explanation does not allow the magic properties of qualia, which you may not follow, to walk through the door.

A gap in full understanding is different from many claims made of qualia. (Which I am not sure you have made those.)
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:18 AM   #211
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
I've always taken "qualia" to mean "subjective experience". Perhaps you could give an example of a definition of qualia you find incoherent?
"Qualia" is defined in philosophy as what is left of subjective experience when everything merely physical has been addressed.

So if we are physicalists (materialists, naturalists), there can be no qualia, making the term useless.

If we are idealists, there can be nothing but qualia, making the term useless.

And if we are a dualists, our worldview is logically inconsistent, making the term useless.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:20 AM   #212
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Seriously? How is that evidence for the claim?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:21 AM   #213
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
You need to explain your position. What are you "no"ing?
The claim. It's false. Hence "No".
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:23 AM   #214
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
So would I. That I have no alternative is not grounds for adopting one that doesn't work.

There is no doubt that neurons are needed. They are just not sufficient.
Why not, I am not claiming they are but a neural net of one trillion units getting lots of stimuli and variable inputs from various body parts is rather complex.

So where might the insufficiency reside.

If 1,000,000,000,000 neurons have an average contact with 7,000 other neurons, the number of permutations is like one trillion factorial/ (one trillion factorial-seven thousand factorial) just considering permutations, that in the order less than 9.3326215444E+157 which is just the combinations.

That is a lot of states for one trillion neurons to be in.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:25 AM   #215
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I'm not sure what you are saying.
And yet you claim to "get it". Odd.

You can produce neither evidence nor reasoned argument for your position. This rather indicates that you do not, in fact, "get it" at all, and on the contrary, you are failing to understand what others are saying, precisely as you are here.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:26 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Because it is a mystery, and probably a great one.
A mystery implies something very unknowable, I would argue that human consciousness is open to investigation.

Therefore you asserted the conclusion, imnsho.

Without describing which level of unknowable you are asserting.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:28 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Then perhaps the thread needs to be moved.


I am misunderstanding it?
Yes, all body events are behaviors under behaviorism. And we can have another dime a dozen talk in the R&P forum.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:30 AM   #218
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Evolution doesn't work in quantum leaps. Sentience would evolve gradually. Any animal with eyes, I would think, most likely has sentience when it comes to visual qualia, but some would see in color and others would not, etc.
Um evolution does work in leaps, there can be gradualistic change but not usually. Punctuated equilibria has even been replaced by more complex models.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:31 AM   #219
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
I don't see that there is nothing produced in the game that might be analogous to qualia.
OIC. I guess you'd have to be a sophisticated AI game character to experience it. Alternatively, it might say something about the practical utility of the concept of qualia.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:36 AM   #220
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Um evolution does work in leaps, there can be gradualistic change but not usually. Punctuated equilibria has even been replaced by more complex models.
We all know that stuff; you disagreeing just to disagree?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:37 AM   #221
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Where is it written that research and knowledge don't have limits? There are demonstrably limits on what can be known.
OK, then demonstrate them.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:38 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by Dancing David View Post
Yes, all body events are behaviors under behaviorism. And we can have another dime a dozen talk in the R&P forum.
true
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:43 AM   #223
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
OIC. I guess you'd have to be a sophisticated AI game character to experience it. Alternatively, it might say something about the practical utility of the qualia concept.
Things don't need practical utility to be of scientific interest.

It doesn't really matter whether "qualia" is a scientific issue or a philosophical issue. People have been splitting hairs on what is proper science and what isn't for some time now, so if someone wants to call it philosophy, and someone else call it science, it is just a matter of how they define these things.

The issue is not really "qualia" anyway, but consciousness. Qualia are experienced by sentient beings, consciousness is experienced by conscious beings. Probably everything with eyes qualifies as at least somewhat sentient, but consciousness is rarer and harder to recognize. I dare say I qualify as a conscious being maybe ten percent of the time -- doing things mindfully is not one of my strong points.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:47 AM   #224
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
OK, then demonstrate them.
And their relevance. We know about about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, for example, a real physical limit to what we can know. But it would also need to be established as relevant to the discussion.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 10:58 AM   #225
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
But actually, that isn't the case. I studied Neuroscience at one of the top universities for that subject (UCL) and the clear explanatory gap in how brains can "make" sensations was readily acknowledged.
There is a huge difference between an explanatory gap - we don't know exactly how this works - and an epistemic gap - we can't even in principle explain how this works.

What Dennett, Hofstadter, and others have done is closed the epistemic gap. Some of the models suggested for a purely physical basis for consciousness do not appear to be well-supported by recent evidence (the Global Workspace model, for example). But the models exist.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:06 AM   #226
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
OK, then demonstrate them.
Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems come to mind. These are mathematical limits.

It has occurred to me a few times that something similar may be the issue here -- that the physical universe contains phenomena that are not predicted from within itself. That wouldn't make them mystical, but only "unexplainable" in physical terms.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:11 AM   #227
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems come to mind. These are mathematical limits.
Yes. (And points for knowing there's more than one theorem.)

But how are they relevant?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:14 AM   #228
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
OK, then demonstrate them.
Well, to give a class of demonstrations what about computability? Some apparantly reasonable questions about the world are not answerable. Is this not the case? Perhaps the universe is such that none of the fundamental questions we want to answer are ones that can't be answered?

Even impossible to build computers like the theoretical Turing machines have questions they can't answer.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:15 AM   #229
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Yes. (And points for knowing there's more than one theorem.)

But how are they relevant?
By analogy. Theorems (phenomena) exist in a system that are not provable (explainable) within the system.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:19 AM   #230
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
By analogy. Theorems (phenomena) exist in a system that are not provable (explainable) within the system.
Consciousness is like a tapdancing elephant.

That's also an analogy. (Well, it's a simile.)

You still have to show that it's relevant. Saying that it's an analogy means nothing.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:21 AM   #231
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Consciousness is like a tapdancing elephant.

That's also an analogy. (Well, it's a simile.)

You still have to show that it's relevant. Saying that it's an analogy means nothing.
For a moment there you were being reasonable. Now you are back to bald assertions. I'm going to bed (it's after midnight here).
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:22 AM   #232
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
But how are they relevant?
It was claimed there are no limits on knowledge and research. There certainly are limits. Whether they are important limits depends on the question one wants to answer.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:24 AM   #233
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Well, to give a class of demonstrations what about computability?
You tell us. What about computability?

Quote:
Some apparantly reasonable questions about the world are not answerable. Is this not the case?
Computability is about abstract problems, but in essence, yes.

No computer can solve the halting problem.

Humans can't either.

So I'm not sure where you're going with this.

Quote:
Perhaps the universe is such that [some/all] of the fundamental questions we want to answer are ones that can't be answered?
Do you have a reason to think that?

Quote:
Even impossible to build computers like the theoretical Turing machines have questions they can't answer.
Yes. But how is that relevant?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:25 AM   #234
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
It was claimed there are no limits on knowledge and research.
Not exactly.

Quote:
There certainly are limits. Whether they are important limits depends on the question one wants to answer.
We know the question we want to answer here. So, are these limits relevant?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:27 AM   #235
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
For a moment there you were being reasonable. Now you are back to bald assertions. I'm going to bed (it's after midnight here).
I made no assertion. I simply pointed out that you have not made an argument.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:31 AM   #236
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Originally Posted by Frank Merton View Post
The issue is not really "qualia" anyway, but consciousness.
OK.

Quote:
Qualia are experienced by sentient beings, consciousness is experienced by conscious beings. Probably everything with eyes qualifies as at least somewhat sentient, but consciousness is rarer and harder to recognize. I dare say I qualify as a conscious being maybe ten percent of the time -- doing things mindfully is not one of my strong points.
I'm increasingly of the opinion that explanations for perceptual experience will be uncovered by looking at much simpler creatures, perhaps insects, that exhibit complex behaviours associated with sophisticated perceptual processing, and where we have the possibility of mapping, modeling, and emulating the brain at the neuronal level.

For example, the bee can recognise patterns, count, navigate, use symbols and abstract rules, and communicate with fellow bees, using less than a million neurons with around a billion synapses, well within our current modeling capabilities. Unfortunately, a bee can't report it's perceptions or experiences, but it seems reasonable to suppose that there must be something it is like to be a bee approaching a suitable flower, or applying learned rules to a novel situation. A full bee brain emulation should provide clues to how such systems manipulate abstractions, which may help us understand how more complex brains have expanded on that theme, and the origins and basis of sentience.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:34 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Some of the models suggested for a purely physical basis for consciousness do not appear to be well-supported by recent evidence (the Global Workspace model, for example).
What is the recent evidence that casts doubt on the GW model?
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:51 AM   #238
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
What is the recent evidence that casts doubt on the GW model?
That's a good question, and I'll see if I can dig it out. I think the problems involved visual perception.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 11:53 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
We know the question we want to answer here. So, are these limits relevant?
I was answering a general statement that there were no limits to research or knowledge. I thought that I was making a limited statement that was so obviously true nobody would challenge it. I was wrong.

In answer to your question. How about Poincare and the three body problem? It's very simple, except that the behaviour is essentially chaotic. The weather is another example. I don't see that it is impossible that the behaviour of the brain and hence the mind is to some degree chaotic. Hence there would be limits on what we can know.

I'm not saying, hence we can believe what ever we want, or hence "the soul". This is purely a response to the post claiming there were no limits on knowledge and research and you asking whether it has any relevance to the topic at hand.

All this is, I'm sure, terribly obvious and I wouldn't have bothered posting at all if the statement hadn't been made that there were no such limits. I thought perhaps the original poster was unaware of this. Hence my post.

Last edited by shuttlt; 23rd December 2012 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:04 PM   #240
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I was answering a general statement that there were no limits to research or knowledge.
No-one actually said that, though tsig's post could have been better worded.

I'll let this rest for now, since we clearly agree that there are such limits, from both mathematics and physics.

(Though if these limits are raised as relevant to the discussion, I will ask that the relevance be established, not simply asserted or handwaved.)
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