Mind includes qualia
In case you haven’t already read it, this is a nice little essay by Dennett: Quining Qualia
You can’t be serious! That is supposed to be an argument? I can’t believe that I dislike reading someone more that William Lane ‘Two Citations’ Craig, I really can’t – but this is shit.
I told you I would find fault with this, but I didn’t realize I could rip the shit out of it. I’ve barely gotten to the first of his “intuition pumps” sections, the first four.
I lost a post earlier when my connection fricking went down, but Lazarus saved my ass. This is what I wrote before I got half way throught the first section:
It is just that presumption of innocence I want to overthrow. I want to shift the burden of proof, so that anyone who wants to appeal to private, subjective properties has to prove first that in so doing they are not making a mistake.
WTF? What mistake is he talking about? He wants to shift the burden of proof! Don’t we all.
He is asking and writing by using his fucking qualia. He would not see the keyboard, or picture thoughts and string them together, if they weren’t fucking real.
My claim, then, is not just that the various technical or theoretical concepts of qualia are vague or equivocal, but that the source concept, the “pretheoretical” notion of which the former are presumed to be refinements, is so thoroughly confused that even if we undertook to salvage some “lowest common denominator” from the theoreticians’ proposals, any acceptable version would have to be so radically unlike the ill-formed notions that are commonly appealed to that it would be tactically obtuse–not to say Pickwickian–to cling to the term. Far better, tactically, to declare that there simply are no qualia at all.
This is pure an unadulterated bullshit, consciousness razor.
Just because you can’t describe or define something clearly and concisely is not a valid reason to dismiss it as irrelevant! Psychology is built on vague and ill defined ‘symptoms’ – look at all the controversy over the various versions of the DMV – but it would be ludicrous to dismiss behaviors. One could easily say, “What’s a behavior? where did it come from? We can’t do cognitive behavioral therapy, because the notion of having changing behavior is based on altering thinking, and that’s qualia!
You know what? I’m gonna skip to what I was getting at above. I was going to point out that there are other forms of knowledge than just mental awareness. We say that DNA is an information vesicle, that it is genetic information, yet the amino acid sequence and the protein folding, and the exact shape of the active sites blah blah means nothing to us. We understand the concept, but we cannot be merely informed of the molecular structure of a chromosome, and understand that it is really the ‘experience’ or manifestation of the color of the eyes the host will develop.
But that is irrelevant, anyways. Dennet would have it that because qualia are only accessible by the person experiencing them, that they have to prove they are there, that they are qualifiable, and that the experience of these qualia can be reliably communicated.
He says that they can’t, but HE IS WRONG. If I tell you that the water at the lake is cold, you know what I mean, and you understand what I am saying in no uncertain terms. You know what? This is insipid.
– – –
You also know what, consciousness razor? If this is the best you got, it is a major FAIL.
I can’t hardly be bothered to read this shit. After I read the first two parts that I quoted above, I tried to keep going on the promise that his intuition cascade, or whatever, would become clear.
But at almost every single sentence I saw something logically fucked up with his reasoning.. I am reminded of Craig’s defense of the ontological argument that goes from “It is possible that a maximally great being exists.”
“If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.”
You see what Craig did? A maximally great being DOES NOT EXIST in one possible world!!!!
That is a non sequitur How does he go from ‘a possibility’ to ‘a certainty?’ Adding a possibility to a possibility ≠ certainty! It = a possibility of a possibility, FFS!
– – –
Now, let’s look at Dennet’s words.
I want to shift the burden of proof, so that anyone who wants to appeal to private, subjective properties has to prove first that in so doing they are not making a mistake. This status of guilty until proven innocent is neither unprecedented nor indefensible (so long as we restrict ourselves to concepts). Today, no biologist would dream of supposing that it was quite all right to appeal to some innocent concept of lan vital. Of course one could use the term to mean something in good standing; one could use lan vital as one’s name for DNA, for instance, but this would be foolish nomenclature, considering the deserved suspicion with which the term is nowadays burdened
Elan vital is not equivalent to qualia. Dennet is trying to equate two unrelated ideas, the mysterious elan vital(vital force) with the mysterious qualia.
This is a reverse application of Choprawoo, a false analogy. Elan vital is a proposition from ignorance, qualia is a real experience. Qualia is not a hypothetical ‘mysterious force’ or even a ‘mysterious thing.’ We all know what is meant by qualia, we all have qualia, and even Dennet agrees that we all know what qualia is.
So why does he introduce this false analogy? He doesn’t think that it is false, but it is.
Elan vital is a mysterious force invented to explain a real thing: life.
Qualia is a real thing thing that is the result of an unknown ‘force,’ or process.
In conclusion (my Craig – Dennet comparison) I want to recall that Craig goes from a possibility to a certainty.
Dennet goes from a certainty(we all know what qualia are) to a possibly inexact definition(of qualia), to a certainty that there is no thing(qualia)!
Let’s clarify. If I describe to you that person x will show up wearing a neon green spandex thong at the tall obelisk over there, you will understand deeply what I mean, and you will be able to reliably imagine what that looks like. Otherwise, you would not be bothered to go meet a person if you couldn’t visualize what a dude in a neon green speedo looks like in a crowd of bundled people in the middle of a cold winter morning!
I know you have pictured this, that you have experienced the qualia that I am describing, quite well enough to actually draw a representation or your visualization that I would instantly recognize as the scene I described.
Qualia are not vague, sketchy, purely subjective events that cannot be reliably communicated to each other, for even the ‘experience’ of ‘seeing’ this scenario inside our heads is not mistakable for something else, barring cognitive impairment or some such.
Dennet deliberately cherry picks examples to illustrate his suppositions, and he uses loaded words in his depictment of the situation. He compares the insistent usage of the term qualia to a fanatical zeal to hold on to obviously incorrect beliefs.
This essay of his is stocked full of leading statements such as this, and he spares little expense at poisoning the well from the get go.
Try googling ‘Quinting Qualia Dennet criticism’ as I just did. I hope you are not surprised at the number of results.
I wish you people would not use someone’s opinions as formal proof of the validity of your dogma.
Qualia and mind are valid considerations in the free will debate. They have not categorically been shown to be irrelevant, and it is ludicrous to insist that something be ‘proved’ when everyone knows exactly what the fuck the word refers to. This ontological bullshit being substituted for formal logic is fucked right up, as far as I can tell. Just because you can’t classify something as a type of ‘x’, does not mean that that something doesn’t exist, or is irrelevant.
Qualia are not properties, they have properties. Anyways, I’m in over my head here, but insofar as whether qualia are things or properties, they are real.
They are not illusions, for they correlate to objective reality to a very high degree. Or maybe next time you are stalled on the tracks at a train crossing, and someone tells you that the Beeline Express will suddenly appear around the bend and be upon you before you know it, maybe then you can explain how you know exactly what to do to get your family the fuck out of the car and away from the impending shower of obliterated car parts.
The person is expressing an idea, that idea is visualized in your head, and you will be hurt or killed if you misunderstand the situation
so go ahead and tell me qualia are not real, or relevant. Tell me that our mind is not involved in fucking comprehending reality. It doesn’t matter where your brain regions and loci are that play a part in assembling into the perception of yourself, that there is no such thing as the mind, there’s a train coming, and that train is me 😉
See, that’s humor. Is humor a thing, or is it a property?
Have I made a case for qualia? Have I made a case for qualia evoking brain states?
All I have left is to show that the brain is self modulating