Re: Dreaming On

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 22:55:35 +1000

2009/8/27 Brent Meeker <>:

> Does functionalism mean nothing more than if the same inputs produce
> the same outputs then the experience will be the same?  I think this
> is to simplistic.  To reduce it to a really simple example, suppose
> your brain functions so that:
> You look at sky.
> Blue detectors fire.
> You say, "Blue".
> Now the doctor replaces some neurons so that
> You look at sky.
> Blue detectors fire.
> The blue detectors excite frabjous detectors.
> Frabjous detectors fire
> You say, "Blue".
> Is your experience the same?  Do you experience "frabjous"?  If you
> put "melody" for "frabjous", you've got synsathesia.  I'd say that
> functional equivalence is relative to the level.  At *some* level
> equal-input-output=>equal-experience, but not at higher levels.

If you have a different experience for the same input, then you don't
produce the same output. You might on a particular occasion, but you
won't under all conditions, because you will be able to say there is
something different about the altered experience; namely, the sky now
looks frabjous or melodious as well as blue. To have a functionally
perfect brain replacement is to be guaranteed that *nothing* will
change, so that you will never even be able to say, "this feels a bit
weird, but I can't explain exactly how".

> What about lower levels?  Surely it doesn't matter whether 10,000 K+
> cross the axon membrane or 10,001 cross.  So somehow looking at just
> the right level matters in the hypothesis of functionalism.  Maybe
> that level corresponds to the level at which the organism acts; the
> functions evolved to support and direct actions.  Rocks don't act so
> they don't have any functional level.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Thu Aug 27 2009 - 22:55:35 PDT

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