Re: Dual-Aspect Science (a spawn of the roadmap)

From: Colin Geoffrey Hales <>
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2006 13:15:43 +1000 (EST)

David Nyman" <>:
> Yes, and I despair (almost) of remedying this, even if I knew how. My
own attempts at linguistic 'clarity' seemed destined only to muddy the
waters further, especially as I'm really trying to translate from
personal modes that are often more visual/ kinaesthetic than verbal,
gestalt than analytic.

I have these very same difficulties and I try my very hardest to use the
minimal number of most-accessible words in their popular mode. Not always
successfully...but you have to start somewhere. My origins are as an
engineer immersed in the natural (electrical) world. Thousands of hours of
waiting during commissioning, thinking for a couple of decades.... to
surface and try to describe what you have seen after a

> That said, I rather like your 'adverbial' mode, which I think has also
cropped up in other contexts (didn't Whitehead attempt something of the
sort with his process view?) Nominalisation/ reification creates
conceptual confusions, embedded assumptions spawn others, as in all
language to do with time, which is already loaded with the assumption of
experiential dynamism, and hence can do nothing to help explain it.
ASIDE, for the record, dual aspect science (from the previous post). I)
APPEARANCE ASPECT. Depictions (statistics) of regularity (correlations of
agreed 'objects' within) in appearances
II) STRUCTURE ASPECT. Depictions (Statistics) of structure of an
underlying natural world based on organisations of one or more posited
structural primitives.

Both have equal access to qualia as evidence. Qualia are evidence for
both. Whatever the structure is, scientists are made of it and it must
simultaneously a) deliver qualia and all the rest of the structure in the
universe(II) and b) deliver the contents of qualia (appearances) that
result in our correlations of appearances that we think of as empirical
laws(I). This is a complete consistent set of natural laws, none of which
literally 'are' the universe but are merely 'about' it.
back to David's words re language...'adverbial' descriptions:

Nicholas Rescher has wrested process thought from the Whitehead
sequestration of it. Rescher uses the adverbial mode quite convincingly in
his latest works. Thank goodness...far too much religious/cultish detritus
smattered throughout the Whitehead camp. They have no right to 'own' the
process view. I hope those days are over now.

The adverbial depiction is very apt as it stops us being deluded into the
assumption of 'nouns' and 'things'. In day to day life nouns and things
are very very useful, but the assumption that just because our language
has them and we have agreed to their presence in the universe's
appearance...does not mean that the language tokens are actually

Adverbial descriptions are far more general in that they easily unify all
natural world behaviour as a single process that can deal with 'verby
things' like rainstorms, that are inherently processual and apparent lumpy
things (like lions) that behave 'nounly'. Qualia naturally fit into this
idea. There is no thing 'red' in your head. The universe is behaving
red-ly in your head. NOTE: An ideal object 'red' may be said to exist in
'platonia'. But so what! This is about _our_ universe, not some

> My own hastily contrived usages were an attempt to expose the implicit
(and hence generally conceptually invisible) holding of the world 'at
arm's length' by the objectifying effect of 3rd person language, which
simultaneusly relegates 1st-person to a subsidiary role, to the extent
that some even feel impelled to deny its existence, or resort to bizarre
ontolgies in an attempt to 'reintroduce' it. Where McGinn and Chomsky hold
that it is the analytic/ synthetic modes of language that puts 1st person
beyond our ability to conceptualise, I feel that the
unacknowledged consensual projection of an 'objective model' as
> 'reality' has more to do with it.
> My belief has been that restoring 1st person to some sort of centrality
would be part of the antidote, and I haven't yet (quite) lost hope on this
score. I look forward to the fruits of your own efforts in this regard.
> David

Your plea has not gone unheard. V.S. Ramachandran said "...the need to
reconcile the first and third person accounts of the the
single most important problem in science." (Phantoms in the Brain .229)

and there's McGinn in 'the mysterious flame' where he makes a convincing
case for us having a profoundly inadequate view of matter. I agree! I'd
say there isn't any such 'thing'! :-)

Note Ramachandran is not saying 'physics' or 'neuroscience' or
'consciousness studies' is affected but SCIENCE, all of it. He is
absolutely right. Qualia are our entire source of scientific evidence. We
have nothing else. They are an appearance (as a measurement supplied to us
inside our heads by the action of brain material). To say that the
universe is literally constructed of these appearances is a) illogical and
b) does not align with the modern empirical evidence of brain material.


a) be completely dependent on 1st person data for scientific evidence
(even though we linguistically extract an apparent objective agreed view
out of it, without qualia we have no appearances to do that with!)


b) demand that this 1st person data be used as evidence on pain of being
declared 'unscientific'. (If you can't experience it, you are not doing

and then

c) To believe that the abstractions we get by correlating the appearances
are structural/causal

and worse then

d) to deny the existence qualia/declare the ficticious third person view
as the only valid view

in spite of

d) glaring anomalous data presentation in brain material.

is a recipe for a science that I'm not too sure has any other status than
some sort of "cult of the objective view". Do we really want to have
historians look back at us and cringe? The dual-aspect penny has to drop
at some stage.

Qualia(appearances) are only intractible because we keep insisting on &
trying to use qualia (appearances, our scientific evidence) to explain
them! Is it only me that sees that when the scientific evidence system
(qualia) is applied to collect evidence in favour of a "science of
qualia", a science of _our evidence system_!!, that the evidence system
breaks down?

If I had to categorise the situation I'd say that science is currently
"single aspect, unsituated" as opposed to "dual-aspect, situated".

['unsituated' means that the scientist is, despite the observer dependence
characterised by quantum mechanics, surgically excised from the universe
by the demand for an objective view that does not exist. 'Situated'
science puts the scientist back inside the universe with the studied
items. Note that science only needs OBJECTIVITY (a behaviour) not a real
'objective view' to construct correlations of type I (above). Dual aspect
science disposes of the cultish need for a delusion of a 3rd person view ]

I'd be very interested in the group's view on this. I feel like I'm the
only one who can see something broken here (science). If anyone can say
that a dual-aspect approach cannot be used for any other reason than
dogmatic clinging to the way it is,

a) I'd like to hear it.. (I challenge anyone/everyone to do this. I can't!)
b) don't we have some breakthough thinking of some sort to be getting on

Wouldn't it be nice to be part of a solution instead of endless circular
ruminations that are the problem?

Colin Hales
p.s. some physicists already are already working in the structure (II)
aspect... and they don't realise it. We are already doing it! We just
don;t know when we are.

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Received on Sat Aug 12 2006 - 23:17:50 PDT

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