• Isaac
    3.9k


    (I'm missing your notifications by the way - there's some software glitch which seems to make this happen occasionally, I only just spotted this post by chance - apologies if I've missed anything else)

    Say when I look at objects A, B and C I have experiences X, X and Y. When you look at objects A, B and C you have experiences Y, Y and X. Or even Z,Z,R. When we want to communicate these experiences, we would BOTH call A “red” and C “green”.

    Different experiences, shared meaning.
    khaled

    Yep, I'm with you so far.

    “Red” isn’t referring to a particular experience, (not a particular X or particular Y) but rather a shared structure (A and B are the same experience but C is different. Doesn’t matter what the actual experience is. Same structure)khaled

    Sort of. I think this is highly speculative and would need some neurological support which isn't really there - but we can shelve that for the time being, I get that it's plausible.

    Now if someone looking at the same set of objects experiences Z,Z,Z, and he learned that “Things that produce the experience Z are called red” he would be colorblind. In his world there is no distinction between C and B/A. He would look at C and say “this is red” because that’s what he learned to call objects that produce the experience Z. That’s when we know he’s colorblind.khaled

    Maybe, but we also know we're colourblind by being told we are, but again, I sense that's not the relevant point so we won't derail into it.

    Here's what I see as the relevant issue with what you've laid out here. What's wrong with the following conversation (using your terms)

    "What's 'red' like for you?",

    "Oh when I see red I get lot's of X's and a Y"

    "Yeah, I get a few Xs too, but for me it's mainly Ys, plus a Z oddly enough"

    "Yeah Z is odd, I've never heard of anyone getting that off seeing red before"...

    ...then repeat the same conversation fo talking about the experience of X, Y and Z themselves (composed perhaps of a,b, and c in varying proportions).
  • Banno
    11k
    ...stuff...

    The notion of individuality in relation to mental attributes is fraught. Some folk treat pains like noses.
  • khaled
    2.4k
    Red” isn’t referring to a particular experiencekhaled

    Sort of.Isaac

    We had a whole fight about this on the last qualia thread. You insisted that "red" does not refer to experiences. If you were going to disagree with anything I definitely didn't expect it to be this.

    But I'll take a sort of.

    What's wrong with the following conversation (using your terms)

    "What's 'red' like for you?",

    "Oh when I see red I get lot's of X's and a Y"

    "Yeah, I get a few Xs too, but for me it's mainly Ys, plus a Z oddly enough"
    Isaac

    We don't have an "outside perspective" from which we can see that I am seeing Xs and you are seeing Ys. We can't talk about the Xs and Ys. You only have access to your experiences and I only have access to mine.

    The answer to "What's red like for you" is "How the fuck do you expect me to answer that?"

    Outside of a fantasy show, we can't "swap bodies" to check.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    We don't have an "outside perspective" from which we can see that I am seeing Xs and you are seeing Ys. We can't talk about the Xs and Ys. You only have access to your experiences and I only have access to mine.

    Outside of a fantasy show, we can't "swap bodies" to check.
    khaled

    Why would we need to swap bodies? Surely Whatever these Xs and Ys are they have a physical effect (otherwise how are you distinguishing them?) So we can either observe, or talk about, that effect. If there's no such effect, the X isn't really different form Y, is it?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    Surely Whatever these Xs and Ys are they have a physical effectIsaac

    No. Different physical effects produce Xs and Ys. We just came back from an epiphenomenalism thread so you know what I mean here hopefully.

    If there's no such effect, the X isn't really different form Y, is it?Isaac

    It still is. I don't see the problem with there being a difference that has no effect.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    No. Different physical effects produce Xs and Ys. We just came back from an epiphenomenalism thread.khaled

    Yes, I meant that we'd have to know them somehow, in order to implicate their existence. Like with epiphenomenalism. We have a word 'decision' because we all have some feeling about having 'decided' something, even though physically no action-initiation actually took place.

    I'm saying without the equivalent for X and Y, why are we postulating their existence?

    Yours seems to be a plausible theory without a phenomena to explain.
  • khaled
    2.4k
    We have a word 'decision' because we all have some feeling about having 'decided' something, even though physically no action-initiation actually took place.Isaac

    And we all have a word "Red" because we all have some experience of X/Y/Z/J/G/H/Doesn't matter as long as the structure is preserved. Even though no action-initiation actually took place.

    I'm saying without the equivalent for X and Y, why are we postulating their existence?Isaac

    Xs and Ys are experiences. They're that "feeling of deciding something" in epiphenomenalism.

    You ask how we know our own experiences exist? You also have to answer that question then. I don't think it's a meaningful question.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    Xs and Ys are experiences. They're that "feeling of deciding something" in epiphenomenalism.khaled

    Right. But we have a word for 'feeling of deciding something'. We call it a 'decision' and we talk about it to each other. there's something there to be referred to so we came up with a word for it and we talk about it. If X and Y were like that, why (after a few million years) do we not have words for them?

    You ask how we know our own experiences exist? You also have to answer that question then.khaled

    We talk to other people about them?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    there's something there to be referred to so we came up with a word for it and we talk about it.Isaac

    Correct. That's precisely the Xs and Ys. I just use them as placeholders. Because the point is, we do not all need to be having X to refer to it as a "decision". All we need for communication is for our experiences to have the same structure. Not the same content. The content never comes into the picture and it makes no difference.

    We talk to other people about them.Isaac

    So if you never learned a language you couldn't be angry?
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    Correct. That's precisely the Xs and Ys. I just use them as placeholders.khaled

    So they're not private then. We talk about them and have words for them.

    We talk to other people about them. — Isaac


    So if you never learned a language you couldn't be angry?
    khaled

    You didn't say anything about being, you said 'knowing'.
  • khaled
    2.4k
    So they're not private then. We talk about them and have words for them.Isaac

    No. As my example showed, you can have radically different experiences and still talk. A public language about private experiences.

    If, when looking at something you experience what red refers to for you (X), and I experience what red refers to for me ( Y ) we can talk.

    However X and Y do not need to be the same. X and Y are variable names. They can contain anything.

    Not that we can confirm if they are or not. Because whether or not they're the same makes no difference to communication or behavior.

    The words don't refer to X and Y. But only their position in the structure. When you say "That is red" I can infer that you had some experience X. When I say "That is red" you can infer that I had some experience Y (again, these are just variable names). However you cannot infer that X and Y are the same.

    You didn't say anything about being, you said 'knowing'.Isaac

    Fair enough.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    So they're not private then. We talk about them and have words for them. — Isaac


    No. As my example showed, you can have radically different experiences and still talk. A public language about private experiences.
    khaled

    But your example of radically different experiences consisted of saying that experiences of red for one person might be constituted of X,X, and Y, yet for another X, Y and Z, yes?

    We've just established that we do, in fact, have words for X, Y and Z (they're just placeholders here). So the differences are not private after all, we can talk about them in terms of Xs, Ys and Zs, all of which have public meanings (like the meaning of the word 'decision').
  • khaled
    2.4k
    But your example of radically different experiences consisted of saying that experiences of red for one person might be constituted of X,X, and Y, yet for another X, Y and Z, yes?Isaac

    No. It was X,X, Y and Y,Y, X. Point is it's the same structure. As in, the first two objects are the same color and the last one is different. I am not using them as variable names here. X is distinct from Y.

    If you were seeing X, X, Y respectively and I was seeing X, Y, Z respectively when looking at 3 objects one of us is color blind. Portably you. As for you, the first and second object seem the same color. While for me all 3 are different colors.

    We've just established that we do, in fact, have words for X, Y and ZIsaac

    We don't.

    The words don't refer to X and Y. But only their position in the structure. When you say "That is red" I can infer that you had some experience X. When I say "That is red" you can infer that I had some experience Y (again, these are just variable names). However you cannot infer that X and Y are the same. As they don't need to be at all.khaled

    As long as everything that produces X for you produces Y for me, we can talk. Once something produces X for you and produces Z for me for example, we will have a disagreement about what color it is. Not because X is different from Z, but because the structure is different.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    No. It was X,X, Y and Y,Y, X. Point is it's the same structure. As in, the first two objects are the same color and the last one is different.

    If you were seeing X, X, Y and I was seeing X, Y, Z when looking at 3 objects one of us is color blind. Portably you. As for you, the first and second object seem the same color. While for me all 3 are different colors.
    khaled

    Ah yes, I made a mistake there I should have written Y,Y and X for the second person. The point still stands though.

    We've just established that we do, in fact, have words for X, Y and Z — Isaac


    We don't.
    khaled

    Why not? They're different components of experience, epiphenomenologically arisen, just like 'decision'. But we have a word for 'decision' because the feeling is a part of our lives. Why no words for X and Y. If they're identifiable feeling we have, parts of our experience of 'red', the why would there be no words for them?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    They're different components of experience, epiphenomenologically arisen, just like 'decision'.Isaac

    Correct.

    Too bad words don't refer to components of experience.

    The words don't refer to X and Y. But only their position in the structure. When you say "That is red" I can infer that you had some experience X. When I say "That is red" you can infer that I had some experience Y (again, these are just variable names). However you cannot infer that X and Y are the same. As they don't need to be at all.khaled

    As long as everything that produces X for you produces Y for me, we can talk. Once something produces X for you and produces Z for me for example, we will have a disagreement about what color it is. Not because X is different from Z (as X was already different from Y but we were talking just fine), but because the structure is different.khaled

    But we have a word for 'decision' because the feeling is a part of our lives.Isaac

    The word for "decision" is not referring to an experience. But its position within a structure.

    Just like in my example: We looked at 3 different objects. I had X,X,Y experiences and you had Y,Y,X experiences (Z,Z,F would also do. Point is structure is preserved).

    Yet we both called the first and second objects "red" and the last one "green".

    So "red" cannot be referring to X (as you were having Y) and "green" cannot be referring to Y (as you were having X)

    So then what "Red" refers to is the position of these experiences within the structure. Their relationship to others. And not any specific X, Y, Z or F

    Again, really weird for me that now you're the one saying that words refer to experiences or aspects of experiences. When you adamantly disagreed last time.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    So "red" cannot be referring to X (as you were having Y) and "green" cannot be referring to Y (as you were having X)khaled

    What I'm asking is why postulate that I'm having X and you Y, unless you've got some reason (my response or my subsequent words) to believe our experiences are different? If they seem the same in every conceivable way, why fabricate a possible way in which they might, nonetheless, be different?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    What I'm asking is why postulate that I'm having X and you Y, unless you've got some reason (my response or my subsequent words) to believe our experiences are different? If they seem the same in every conceivable way, why fabricate a possible way in which they might, nonetheless, be different?Isaac

    I am not definitively saying they are different. I am pointing out that we have just as much reason to believe they are the same as to believe they are different. As they can be radically different without breaking anything (We'd still be able to talk and do everything exactly the same way as we used to before)

    I would ask you the same question. What's your reason for believing that they are the same? Even though nothing changes were they different.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    I am pointing out that we have just as much reason to believe they are the same as to believe they are different.khaled

    We really don't. If absolutely every measure we can detect shows no difference, that is excellent grounds for assuming they are the same.

    It's the same ground for believing there are no unicorns
  • khaled
    2.4k
    If absolutely every measure we can detect shows no differenceIsaac

    We have taken no measures to examine X and Y directly.

    Every measure we have taken would produce the same result were they different. Because every measure we have taken can only say things about the positions, not contents of our experiences. If you think otherwise give an example.

    What measure have we taken that can definitively say that X and Y are the same and not just that they occupy the same position?
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    We have taken no measures to examine X and Y directly.khaled

    What makes you think that?

    Every measure we have taken would produce the same result were they different. Because every measure we have taken can only say things about the positions, not contents of our experiences. If you think otherwise give an example.khaled

    You agree our experiences are generated by our brains right? And identical brain activity cannot produce different experiences (otherwise there would need to be some other physical source for the epiphenomenon)?

    Edit - I ought to clarify, because people seem to consistently get the wrong impression from my posts - I don't actually believe that there is no difference. I believe there is and it's detectable. I believe in your Xs and Ys, I just believe they're identifiable and nameable. What I'm doing here is interrogating your argument, nit stating my own position.
  • khaled
    2.4k
    And identical brain activity cannot produce different experiences (otherwise there would need to be some other physical source for the epiphenomenon)?Isaac

    No I don't agree there. What makes you think that?

    I would agree that identical brain activity will produce experiences that occupy the same structure. But I don't see a reason to believe they're the same.

    Say we have identical brain activity when looking at the 3 objects. It could still be the case that you see Y,Y,X and I see X,X,Y. Assuming neither is colorblind.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    No I don't agree there. What makes you think that?

    I would agree that identical brain activity will produce experiences that occupy the same structure. But I don't see a reason to believe they're the same.
    khaled

    Do you believe epiphenomenon are caused entirely by physical factors?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    Do you believe epiphenomenon are caused entirely by physical factors?Isaac

    Sure.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    Surekhaled

    So then, if there are differences in the epiphenomena, those differences must have been caused by differences in the preceding physical cause, otherwise how do you explain them, causally?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    So then, if there are differences in the epiphenomena, those differences must have been caused by differences in the physical causeIsaac

    Sure. I concede.

    Then again, you never have identical brain states. Or identical brains. So privacy can have a home there.
  • Isaac
    3.9k
    Then again, you never have identical brain states. Or identical brains.khaled

    Yeah. Did you happen to read my edit in my third to last statement? I agree with you that we have different brain states in virtually every case. The brain states which (variously) cause me to reach for the word 'red' will, almost without doubt, be different from the range which cause you to reach for the word 'red'. All of which is what I take you to mean with your X,X,Y vs X,Y,Y example.

    The point at which I disagree is that these are intrinsically private. They're different brain states. They may be accessible to introspection, in which case we can (and probably have) come up with words for them that way, or they may be accessible only to neuroscience or cognitive psychology, in which case we can come up with technical terms for them.

    Either way, there's no need to assume a necessary and intrinsic privacy to these constituent elements.

    Maybe a pragmatic one?
  • khaled
    2.4k
    X,X,Y vs X,Y,Y example.Isaac

    XXY and YYX but sure. XXY and XYY are different structurally (person 1 thinks the first 2 objects are the same but person 2 thinks the last 2 objects are the same).

    They may be accessible to introspection, in which case we can (and probably have) come up with words for them that way, or they may be accessible only to neuroscience or cognitive psychology, in which case we can come up with technical terms for them.Isaac

    Problem is, we have no way of quantifying the impact of brainstates on Xs and Ys. Maybe something very insignificant is the difference between you having XXY or having ZZR or having KKU. Nor will we be able to quantify said impact because we have no way of detecting whether you're having XXY, ZZR or KKU. That is because there is no practical difference between you having XXY or ZZR or KKU. But if you're having EEE that's detectable. Because you will give a different answer to the color of the last object. You will claim that the 3 objects have the same color.

    Sure I can agree that an identical brain will produce the exact same experience but the impact of the brain on experience is unquantifiable.

    So intrinsic privacy? No. If you have the same brain and body you'll have the same experience (and also be the same person). But pragmatic? Definitely. What differences in the brain produce which experience "flavors" (XXY or GGR or JJL or whatever)? I have no clue. Nor do I think we will have a clue. Because someone having XXY and someone having GGR will act the exact same way.
  • Ansiktsburk
    126
    Thread start looked promising, but going to the last page i mainly see stuff that looks like mathematical equations.

    Could anyone active in the thread summarize the findings so far in this thread?
  • unenlightened
    5.5k
    I'd imagine that a mental health professional might disagree with you bothLuke

    Always a good argument> if you disagree with me you must be mad! I could argue that madness is an intersubjective phenomenon, as in, we have to institute (or in this case imagine), a mental health professional who is magically endowed with "the objective truth" about my subjectivity.

    It is after all the first principle of psychology that the psyche can be known objectively. Far be it from me to forbid anyone from dismissing the whole of psychology, but then your reference to my health professional loses what little rhetorical force it might have had.
  • Luke
    1.3k
    Yep. That's the bit I saw as circular; because your definition of individual persons contained their ability to feel pain as one of the defining factors. So you end up with "pains are subjective because they're in the list of things which are subjective".Isaac

    Only if "subjective" and "person(hood)" are the same word. Anyway, so what if it's circular? My point wasn't to define subjectivity, only to point out that it is not identical to privacy.

    Why are persons defined by their ability to feel pain, but not by their having noses?Isaac

    Don't you have any idea of what "subjective" means? The dictionary offers this relevant definition: "dependent on the mind or on an individual's perception for its existence."

    But I'll try again, in good faith, to answer the question in my own words. A person or conscious subject is the centre of consciousness or "I" who experiences, perceives, feels pain, thinks, deliberates, plans, remembers, uses language, is aware that they have swapped noses with someone, etc. These things, including the ability to feel pain, are typically constitutive of personhood or subjectivity. These things are dependent on consciousness, or are "mind-dependent", and they disappear together with consciousness. Noses do not.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.