2C Mary

From: Colin Hales <colin.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 23:35:49 +1000

Dear Folks,

Once again I find myself fossicking at the boundaries and need to ask
one of those questions. My first experience with an asker of such a
question was in the last couple of years at high school. I'll tell
you about it because, well, the list could use a little activity and I
hope the 'fabric' list doesn't mind the rather voluminous joining
post. The story:

Person X raises his hand in class and the question is asked. The most
insanely stupid question. At least that's what it appeared to be to
most of the class. Snicker. Guffaw. Snicker. Rhubarb. Rhubarb. A
mexican wave of derision filters through the pubescent ranks. That
wave didn't get past me. I looked at person X across the room. Yes, on
the face of it that question was the pathetic pleading of the
apparently brain dead. Yet I knew it could not be. For person X was
one of those kids that got scarily high marks. I knew that the
question had answered something far deeper for person X than the
shallow meanderings of the distinterested that formed the rest of the
class sitting in judgement. And none of them would ever realise that.

That's the stupid question story. Now for the apparently stupid
question, which I'll pose in 2 parts. The first part is a little
background. For those of you who subscribe to the PSYCHE lists, you
will have seen my recent question "Exploded Brain Mary" on PSYCHE-D.
This question is in pursuit of understanding of a topic not apparent
in the question and I'm afraid I can't go into detail. It's about
resolving the bottom layer of a speculative model for qualia.

Now this model is around 11 layers deep. It's a very detailed model
and I'm going to do my best to bring it into the public eye for
scrutiny in due course. Somehow. Suggestions anyone? There is no way I
can possibly bring you all up to speed on the whole thing but I can
say that I have hit a final wall of mystery which appears to suggest
something that may be true about consciousness that may be the
'fundamental' bedrock. Something that is breathtakingly simple yet so
odd I am here to ask you folks to see what I see. To see where it
leads. I really don't know if it's well trodden ground or not.

The second part is 2C Mary. This is a small thought experiment
designed to illustrate as simply as I can the possibility for a
mechanism for access to apparently physics-violating phenomena. Those
interested in philosophy of mind will recognise that poor
neuroscientist Mary has been the subject of many a thought experiment
and she has acquiesced to appalling things in the name of science.
This one is no different!

Let's get rid of Mary's brain completely. A radical brainectomy. We
are going to replace it with two particles. Each particle is
travelling at the speed of light, C, but in perfectly opposing
directions. The distance between them is growing at a speed of 2C. Now
nothing is actually moving at 2C and all is well for physics.

The real question is the ontological status of the 'nothing' in that
last sentence. I am starting to believe that the true nature of the
'fundamental' beneath qualia is not only about the 'stuff', but is
actually about all of it. That is, the 'stuff' and the 'not stuff'. If
you think of Mary, she actually has 3 things in her brain. She has 2
particles doing something and one extra thing defined by their
behaviour. The behaviour of a mathematical line between the two
centres of mass of the particles. What argument removes that third
'thing' from Mary as an (cognitive) entity occupying our universe? I
find I can no longer dismiss this third thing.

Now the relationship - the causal chain - between what I have
described and the qualia model is not easy to deduce. You'll have to
accept for the moment that there is one. The reason I need to explore
this is that I have identified what I think is a form of apparent
non-locality accessible by simply 'being' part of the universe, and
it's like the same form of access to physics violation that 2C Mary

Why do I need this? Without going into detail, it possibly supplies
the answer to 'Exploded Brain Mary' that seems intuitively right yet
so bizarre, to me, anyway. It's the basis for solving the so-called
'unity of consciousness' issue, which, if this goes anywhere at all
will simply evaporate as a non-problem and no actual unity at all.

The nature of the thought process that has been plaguing me for the
last few weeks has slowly found its way to a question of the form I
have just outlined. I suppose what I am asking is -

Has anyone else been down this road? Is it a road at all?

So many times I find I am walking in footsteps and only lack the
descriptor to find prior art.

In closure, I'd like to support the general way of thinking about
this. A cloud is as much defined by what it is as what it is not. All
'reality' as we describe it, has two halves. We have been so
preoccupied with what 'is', we (presumptuous here, sorry. Set me
straight, please) have completely missed it's opposite. Turn
everything inside out. Imagine that the only 'reality' is the
processes involved by the universe in actively constructing what we
_don't_ consider matter. Keep in mind that if we 'be' any portion of
the universe we have to be all of it - Everything contributed by what
is and every 'thing' incidentally created by being that very stuff,
the 'things' that are 'not' that stuff. These are ontologically
equivalent, I think. We don't even have the language for this. P+ for
'phenomena stuff' and P- for not-stuff? The qualia model calls it
'inverse phenomenology'.

Posing the question at all has been useful. I don't know if anyone
else out there can do anything but start considering what it may mean
(other than perhaps colin should be on medication!). This is all I can
ask - have a think. If anyone wants to put the idea to death in some
cogent fashion I'd appreciate it! It'll save me a lot of time.
Resolution is my goal. Either way is OK with me.

The nice thing about this, after roughly 10 layers of classical,
already-described-physics is that this is the only thing left. It
makes qualia beautiful. An 'elemental quale' appear to be a
destructive and energetic collision between P+ and P-, as I described.
Beautiful but rather mundane, if the model holds up OK. All the
model's layers point an arrow at this one thing I have described. I am
at the end and I find... Nothing or rather, "NOT thing". It is why I
am here, asking my stupid question.

So. Anyone care to comment on the ontological status of 'not thing'?

Regardless, it's been fun writing this.


Colin Hales
Received on Tue Jun 03 2003 - 09:38:11 PDT

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