Re: Bruno's argument

From: 1Z <>
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2006 04:05:53 -0700

Brent Meeker wrote:
> 1Z wrote:
> >
> > Brent Meeker wrote:
> >
> >
> >>In other words it is not justified, based on our limited understanding of brains, to say we'll never
> >>be able to know how another feels based on observation of their brain.
> >
> >
> >
> > We don't know how insects or amoebae feel, either.
> > It is not just an issue of complexity.
> > We don't knw where to *start* with qualia.
> We know where to start when it comes to knowing how other people feel, i.e. we empathize. If we
> knew how our brain worked and how the brain of our friend worked, then we could correlate the
> empathized feeling with the brain events.

Correlation isn't explanation.

> This doesn't mean we would experience our friends
> feeling, but we could produce a mapping between his brain processes and his (inferred) feelings. Of
> course we wouldn't *know* this was right - but scientific knowledge is always uncertain, so I don't
> see that as a objection to calling it knowledge.

I think you have skated past an important point. Being explanatory
is not all the same as being certain. All scientific knowledge
is uncertain; all knowledge worthy of the name is explanatory --
meaning it can provide answers (however uncertain) to "how" and "why"

> Then there are homologous structures in our
> friends brain to those in a chimpanzee's brain and there are similar behavoirs - so I think we could
> extend our map to the feelings of a chimpanzee. Of course with some really alien life form, say an
> octopus, this would be difficult to test empirically - but not, I think, impossible.

At best, this anwers questions about the circumstances under which an
organism might feel a quale. It doesn't say anything about what qualia
are -- why red seems red. ("oh well, of course we can't answer that

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Received on Sun Jul 23 2006 - 07:06:53 PDT

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