RE: Can we ever know truth?

From: Colin Hales <>
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2006 14:56:38 +1000

> Colin Hales wrote:
> > In brain material and brain material alone you get anomaly: things are
> > what they seem. 'Seem' is a construct of qualia. In a science of qualia,
> > what are they 'seeming' to be? Not qualia. That is circular. Parsimony
> > demands we assume 'something' and then investigate it. Having done that
> we
> > need to hold that very same 'something' responsible for all the other
> > 'seeming' delivered by qualia.
> >
> > Seeming sounds great until you try and conduct a scientific study of the
> > 'seeming' system.
> >
> > Colin Hales
> I don't understand that? Qualia = "directly perceived seemings". I don't
> know
> what you mean by a "science of qualia" - why we would need one?

You think we don't need a science of qualia? It's the single biggest problem
there is: we don't have one! Science cannot make any justified,
authoritative prediction as to the phenomenal life of a rock, a computer,
the internet or the plumbing in Beijing or, especially, a scientist. Take a
look at Science magazine's July 2005 issue where 125 questions were posed
that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter century. The top two

1. What is the universe made of?
2. What is the biological basis of consciousness?

Q2 = "what is the physics of qualia?", is delivered by the answer to Q1, in
the behaviour of whatever the universe is made of, of which brain material
is constructed. This is one question, not 2.

'Seeming' = is a) directly the experiences bestowed upon us by qualia and
b) inductions(models) we make from the behaviour of the appearances thus

The latter assembled as empirical laws or just 'intuited' from qualia...
does not matter. Result is the same....which is
fine....until.... turn the qualia (the evidence making system) on itself in a
scientific study of the evidence making system (qualia) to try and get a
science of qualia. Then the system breaks down: you can't see it. All you
see is the brain delivering it to a 3rd person. This is the anomaly.

This means that we have literal screaming proof that the universe is not
made of 'seemings'. It's made of a separate 'something' and we have license
to scientifically consider potential 'somethings' and any underlying
fundamentals that may apply to the generation of qualia.

It doesn't make any existing law of science invalid. It just means we
haven't got the complete picture (set of laws) yet.
Here's another way to see it:

Every scientific question ever posed about any 'thing' X has two questions
to ask, not one. These are:

Q1. What is X? A1. That which behaves Xly
Q2. What is it like to be X? A2. It is like Xness

The physical sciences have neglected the second question for every
scientific exploration done to date. "What is it like to be X?", as a piece
of anomalous data is _only_ visible when X = "the brain", where we even have
a special word for the answer to Q2 Xness = "the mind".

This has been culturally neglected in relation to all other X, such as X =
'an atom' and X = 'a coffee cup'. It may not be 'like anything' to be these
things. That is not the point. The point is we can make no scientific
assertion about it ......yet.

We get a definite answer to Q2 only in brain material. This, I hold, is the
route to answering it for everything else. Like what is it like to be a cold
rock cf a hot rock? And so on...
Here's yet another version of the anomaly:

To illustrate the absurdity of the position of saying that 'models are
it'... consider qualia speaking Xness into your head directly. This is
equivalent to another human(an utterer) _pretending_ to be X. This is
yelling "X is true" at a scientist. As a result the scientist creates a
model for something behaving X-ly. It's quite predictive. Successful.

But look what happens if you now do a science of qualia...behold there's an
UTTERER in there pretending! Look what it did an "X is true" dance!
And underneath it looks nothing like Xness at all! We have found a separate
causal basis (the utterer) for qualia! Eureka. Lets tear this pretender
apart and see what makes it tick.

Now go back to brain material. Xness is experienced. We look for the utterer
but we can see no Xness. Just brain material. Accepting (demanding!) qualia
as scientific evidence whilst denying that qualia are scientifically tenable
is like accepting the statement 'X is true' and whilst denying that
anyone/thing said it!

To make qualia scientifically tenable you have to be allowed to look at 'the
utterer'...structures delivering qualia... this is implicit evidence, as
opposed to explicit evidence.... but no less compelling. The fact that we
can't see qualia when we open up a brain is OUR problem, not the universe's.

> I said
> "the way things seem" is a model, i.e. a construct. The model is
> what we assume and that's what we investigate. I can't tell
> whether you're agreeing with me in
> different words or trying to point to some correction?
> Brent Meeker

What I'm saying is that a policy, a cultural attitude, preference or habit
in scientists that....

'things "are" what they seem as described by a model that correlates with
appearances' perfectly fine for every case but one. When you try and do science
(the regularities of qualia as 'seemings') on the 'seeming system'(qualia).
Then it breaks down...not wrong... just completely impotent (circular) as an
explanation. You can't explain appearances with appearances.

Qualia, the biggest problem, are a cultural problem first, then a technical

So I suppose if I'm 'correcting' anything, all I'm doing is pointing to an
instance of that very cultural assumption at work in a dialogue on an email
forum......A whopping great hole in the form of a assumption that models
'are' it....which persists in spite of blatant evidence to the contrary in
brain material.

The answer to Q1 'what is it all made of' is within biology because qualia
are the one and only pure expression of the deepest/complete possible
structure of whatever it is the universe is made of...

Does that make sense?

I have had to dream up so many different ways of saying the same thing....
it all amounts to the one overall message though: Science being

Colin hales

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Received on Wed Aug 16 2006 - 01:00:23 PDT

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