RE: What do you lose if you simply accept...

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 10:59:15 +1000

OK then, we agree! It's just that what I (and many others) refer to as
qualia, you refer to as the difference between a description of a thing and
being the thing. I hate the word "dualism" as much as you do (because of the
implication that we may end up philosophically in the 16th century if we
yield to it), but haven't you just defined a very fundamental kind of
dualism, in aknowledging this difference between a thing and its
description? It seems to me, in retrospect, that our whole argument has been
one over semantics. Dennett (whom I greatly respect) goes to great lengths
to avoid having impure thoughts about something being beyond empirical
science or logic. David Chalmers ("The Conscious Mind", 1996) accepts that
it is actually simpler to admit that consciousness is just an irreducible
part of physical existence. We accept that quarks, or bitstrings, or
whatever are irreducible, so why is it any different to accept consciousness
(which is more of a mouthful) on the same basis?

--Stathis Papaioannou

> > [quoting Stathis]
> > > >My curiosity could only be satisfied if I were in fact the
> > duplicated
> > > >system myself; perhaps this could be achieved if I "became
> > one" with
> > > >the new system by direct neural interface. I don't have to
> > go to such
> > > >lengths to learn about the new system's mass, volume,
> > behaviour, or
> > > >any other property, and in *this* consists the essential
> > difference
> > > >between 1st person and 3rd person experience. You can
> > minimise it and
> > > >say it doesn't really make much practical difference, but I don't
> > > >think you can deny it.
> > >
> > >I can deny that there is anything special about it, beyond the
> > >difference between A): *a description of an apple*; and B):
> > *an apple*.
> > >I don't think anyone would deny that there is a difference between A
> > >and B (even with comp there is still a difference); but this
> > "essential
> > >difference" does not seem to have anything in particular to do with
> > >qualia or experience.
> > >
> > >Jonathan Colvin
> >
> > Stathis: Can the description of the apple, or bat, or whatever
> > meaningfully include what it is like to be that thing?
>My argument (which is Dennet's argument) is that "what it is like to be
>thing" is identical to "being that thing". As Bruno points out, in 3rd
>person level (ie. the level where I am describing or simulating an apple),
>description can not "be" a thing; but on the 1st person level (where a
>description *is* the thing, from the point of view of the thing, inside the
>simulation, as it were), then the description does "include" what it is
>to be that thing. But "include" is not the correct word to use, since it
>subtly assumes a dualism (that the qualia exist somehow separate from the
>mere description of the thing); the description *just is* the thing.

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Received on Thu May 19 2005 - 21:03:56 PDT

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