• Benkei
    2.2k
    On the show, Data is always puzzled by some feature of common human behavior. Maybe he could convince someone he's autistic, except the can perform calculation and recitation of facts at a superhuman level if asked, and he usually does so unless told not to.Marchesk

    Second time I read the term "superhuman". The fact something is done at a superhuman level is now posited as an argument against something being conscious. Surely, that can't be right or even wat you mean but I can't escape that interpretation (twice). Maybe you can clarify. I also don't think being able to reproduce the full range of human emotion should be a prerequisite to be considered conscious.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    Second time I read the term "superhuman". The fact something is done at a superhuman level is now posited as an argument against something being conscious.Benkei

    It's only meant to say that Data is not a functional isomorph with humans. Data isn't perfectly simulating the functions of human brains, so we can't use that argument to say he has to be conscious.

    I also don't think being able to reproduce the full range of human emotion should be a prerequisite to be considered conscious.Benkei

    Agreed, but the harder problem is about the epistemic justification for deciding whether a physical system different from our own is conscious. And the argument is that we have no way to really know, because our own consciousness does not tell us what it is about us that makes us conscious. It could be the brain stuff, it could be the functions performed by the brain, it could be both, or it could be that something else like panpsychism is the case. We just can't tell.
  • Benkei
    2.2k
    Agreed, but the harder problem is about the epistemic justification for deciding whether a physical system different from our own is conscious. And the argument is that we have no way to really know, because our own consciousness does not tell us what it is about us that makes us conscious. It could be the brain stuff, it could be the functions performed by the brain, it could be both, or it could be that something else like panpsychism is the case. We just can't tell.Marchesk

    Is this a real problem though? I'm from the "common sense" approach that what's conscious is what people decide it is and it's neither here nor there why. It seems they're looking for an on off switch that means if it's there it's conscious and if it's not it isn't. Seems unnecessarily restrictive to me.
  • god must be atheist
    1k
    To summarize, the harder problem is that human phenomenal concepts do not reveal whether our material makeup or the functional role our neurobiology plays is responsible for consciousness. As such, we have no philosophical justification for saying whether a functional isomorph made up of different material such as the android Data from Star Trek is conscious. Even more confusing, we have no way of telling whether a "mere" functional isomorph is conscious, where "mere" means functional in terms of human folk psychology only, and not in the actual neural functions.Marchesk

    This is one fancy way to say what everyone else has been saying: we don't know how consciousness connects to our bodies.

    As Mark Twain said,"Everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." Everyone says we know nothing about how consciousness connects to the body, yet huge tombs and voluminous opinions have been written about it.

    If one morning you wake up feeling dumpy and stupid, just write an article in a philosophy forum and talk about how much you don't know about consciousness, you will feel better. The more you write about this thing that you don't know, the smarter you'll feel.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    Is this a real problem though?Benkei

    Yes, as much as any philosophical problem is real.

    I'm from the "common sense" approach that what's conscious is what people decide it is and it's neither here nor there why.Benkei

    The debate has been rigorously laid out by Chalmers, Nagel, Dennett (in the negative), Block, etc.

    Of course you can ignore all that in favor of ordinary language if you like. Just keep in mind that philosophy got started long ago in part because ordinary language contains many conceptual problems.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    f one morning you wake up feeling dumpy and stupid, just write an article in a philosophy forum and talk about how much you don't know about consciousness, you will feel better. The more you write about this thing that you don't know, the smarter you'll feel.god must be atheist

    That and professional philosophers write papers, publish books and give talks on consciousness. Consider these kinds of threads to be loose commentary.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.5k
    Problems like this always come down to the naive vs indirect realism debate. We never perceive other minds. Why?

    We perceive brains and computers - both of which process different kinds of information for different purposes. So how is it that we can then go about saying anything simulates a mind? How does something simulate a mind? What does that even mean?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    Yes, I saw that and agree. I'm not satisfied with anyone's solution to the hard or harder problems. You end up biting one or more bullets no matter which way you go.Marchesk

    Here is a potion of a Wikipedia article on Searle's biological naturalism:

    On the other hand, Searle doesn't treat consciousness as a ghost in the machine. He treats it, rather, as a state of the brain. The causal interaction of mind and brain can be described thus in naturalistic terms: Events at the micro-level (perhaps at that of individual neurons) cause consciousness. Changes at the macro-level (the whole brain) constitute consciousness. Micro-changes cause and then are impacted by holistic changes, in much the same way that individual football players cause a team (as a whole) to win games, causing the individuals to gain confidence from the knowledge that they are part of a winning team.

    He articulates this distinction by pointing out that the common philosophical term 'reducible' is ambiguous. Searle contends that consciousness is "causally reducible" to brain processes without being "ontologically reducible". He hopes that making this distinction will allow him to escape the traditional dilemma between reductive materialism and substance dualism; he affirms the essentially physical nature of the universe by asserting that consciousness is completely caused by and realized in the brain, but also doesn't deny what he takes to be the obvious facts that humans really are conscious, and that conscious states have an essentially first-person nature.

    It can be tempting to see the theory as a kind of property dualism, since, in Searle's view, a person's mental properties are categorically different from his or her micro-physical properties. The latter have "third-person ontology" whereas the former have "first-person ontology." Micro-structure is accessible objectively by any number of people, as when several brain surgeons inspect a patient's cerebral hemispheres. But pain or desire or belief are accessible subjectively by the person who has the pain or desire or belief, and no one else has that mode of access. However, Searle holds mental properties to be a species of physical property—ones with first-person ontology. So this sets his view apart from a dualism of physical and non-physical properties. His mental properties are putatively physical.
    — Biological naturalism

    Immediately I would see that the first person ontology becomes the "ghost in the machine" that he purports to reject. It is exactly that question of how micro-states (third-person) IS or BECOMES (is over time) macro-states. Just to say "we have micro-states" and "we have macro-states" is to simply restate and beg the question.
  • Andrew M
    745
    Immediately I would see that the first person ontology becomes the "ghost in the machine" that he purports to reject. It is exactly that question of how micro-states (third-person) IS or BECOMES (is over time) macro-states. Just to say "we have micro-states" and "we have macro-states" is to simply restate and beg the question.schopenhauer1

    I would agree. It's the ghostly "first person ontology" that needs to be rejected. And that doesn't then imply a "third-person ontology", which would just be the (behavioral) machine half of the "ghost in the machine". The Cartesian conceptualization needs to be rejected entirely, both in whole and in part. There is just ontology that we flesh out in (public) language, whether ordinary or specialized.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    The Cartesian conceptualization needs to be rejected entirely, both in whole and in part. There is just ontology that we flesh out in (public) language, whether ordinary or specialized.Andrew M

    Yes, I see this type of phrase a lot of rejecting the "Cartesian" conceptualization. But exactly does that mean? The hard problem still remains. It seems to me a sort of de facto panpsychism perhaps. I don't know.
  • Andrew M
    745
    Yes, I see this type of phrase a lot of rejecting the "Cartesian" conceptualization. But exactly does that mean? The hard problem still remains. It seems to me a sort of de facto panpsychism perhaps. I don't know.schopenhauer1

    It's not panpsychism. We're only talking about sentient creatures here. The problem is that in the Cartesian scheme, we're non-sentient creatures plus a ghostly bit. Or p-zombies plus a subjective bit. But that's not a natural way to conceptualize human beings. It's a dualistic way.

    A lot of philosophical language is implicitly dualistic. And it can make problems look more intractable or mysterious than they otherwise would be.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    A lot of philosophical language is implicitly dualistic. And it can make problems look more intractable or mysterious than they would otherwise be.Andrew M

    Then what's an example of a solution? Or do we just not debate philosophy of mind and problem solved? I don't see how the problem is not a problem by using different language, or rather, I don't even see how that language would be employed. When I say "green" as a qualitative state and "green" as a wavelength of light hitting the eye and producing all sorts of neurological states and arrangements, they seem different. How would you suppose to not have the difference without adding the ghost?
  • Relativist
    862
    Then what's an example of a solution? Or do we just not debate philosophy of mind and problem solved? I don't see how the problem is not a problem by using different language, or rather, I don't even see how that language would be employed. When I say "green" as a qualitative state and "green" as a wavelength of light hitting the eye and producing all sorts of neurological states and arrangements, they seem different. How would you suppose to not have the difference without adding the ghost?schopenhauer1
    It seems to me the "ghost" may a product of conceptual problems that arise from (possibly misleading) introspection. It seems that my mind IS something, so I conceptually treat it as an entity. IMO this leads to a dualist (or quasi-dualist) view of the mind.

    In answer to your question: the quale "green" is an experience - a representation of a physical attribute, that is produced by the visual cortex which then passes into short-term, and then long-term, memory.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    In answer to your question: the quale "green" is an experience - a representation of a physical attribute, that is produced by the visual cortex which then passes into short-term, and then long-term, memory.Relativist

    Representation of a physical attribute? That sounds like where you are sneaking in the ghost or the "Cartesian Theater". It usually happens somewhere.
  • Relativist
    862
    Representation of a physical attribute? That sounds like where you are sneaking in the ghost or the "Cartesian Theater". It usually happens somewhere.schopenhauer1
    I think the "ghost" is an illusion of introspection. Rather, the representation of greenness is present because it influences behavior. Some of the more important mental activity that is discussed in theory of mind is that which mediates between stimulus and response. This is important because it is contrary to the notion that color qualia are epiphenomenal.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    I just don’t buy that language is the problem here. I have pain and color experiences, but those aren’t part of the scientific explanations of the world or our biology. And language doesn’t create pain or color experiences. Rather, they are simply part of our experience which language reflects. This leaves color and pain unexplained, with no way so far for us to reconcile with science.

    Language is dualistic, because that’s our experience of the world. No amount of invoking ordinary language or Wittgenstein makes that go away.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    Some of the more important mental activity that is discussed in theory of mind is that which mediates between stimulus and response.Relativist


    Problem is that consciousness isn’t limited to perception. Memory, dreams, imagination, feelings, thoughts and hallucinations all can have colors, sounds, etc
  • Relativist
    862
    Some of the more important mental activity that is discussed in theory of mind is that which mediates between stimulus and response. — Relativist

    Problem is that consciousness isn’t limited to perception. Memory, dreams, imagination, feelings, thoughts and hallucinations all can have colors, sounds, etc
    Marchesk
    We perceive (have a subjective experience) of greenness, and having experienced it at least once, we then have a memory of greenness - a memory that is drawn upon when we dream, think, or imagine things that are green. Perceiving color is a functional capacity that we possess, one that confers an ability to tailor our actions based on this quality. The experience of greenness is nonverbal; words cannot convey the experience. What problems are you referring to?
  • creativesoul
    6.6k
    ...the harder problem is that human phenomenal concepts...Marchesk

    What is the difference between those and that which does not count as being those?

    To summarize, the harder problem is that human phenomenal concepts do not reveal whether our material makeup or the functional role our neurobiology plays is responsible for consciousness. As such, we have no philosophical justification for saying whether a functional isomorph made up of different material such as the android Data from Star Trek is conscious. Even more confusing, we have no way of telling whether a "mere" functional isomorph is conscious, where "mere" means functional in terms of human folk psychology only, and not in the actual neural functions.

    So if Data's positronic brain functions different from our own brain tissue, but still produces reports and behaviors based on things like beliefs, desires and phenomenal experience, we have neither the physical nor functional basis for deciding whether he is actually conscious, or just simulating it.
    Marchesk

    We can certainly draw and maintain a meaningful distinction between non linguistic thought/belief and linguistic. That distinction is between two things that exist in their entirety prior to our account of them. Therefore, we can get it wrong. If we reach a logical end to a train of thought by arriving at thought/belief that we have no knowledge base upon which to draw a distinction between Data and ourselves, well...

    Consciousness is not the problem. Our account of it is.
  • Andrew M
    745
    Then what's an example of a solution? Or do we just not debate philosophy of mind and problem solved? I don't see how the problem is not a problem by using different language, or rather, I don't even see how that language would be employed. When I say "green" as a qualitative state and "green" as a wavelength of light hitting the eye and producing all sorts of neurological states and arrangements, they seem different. How would you suppose to not have the difference without adding the ghost?schopenhauer1

    "Green" in its ordinary public sense is not a qualitative state, it's a property of certain objects that human beings can point to (trees, grass, etc.) There's a qualitative/experiential aspect in the pointing, but not in the objects.

    The scientific usage of "green", while related, has a different referent (i.e., we're pointing at something else, namely a range of light wavelengths).

    As I see it, problems are solved by differentiating our experiences, developing a public language around them, and generating testable hypotheses. That is what scientists (and to some extent all of us in our everyday lives) do. The philosophers' role is to resolve/dissolve the conceptual problems that arise.

    I just don’t buy that language is the problem here. I have pain and color experiences, but those aren’t part of the scientific explanations of the world or our biology. And language doesn’t create pain or color experiences. Rather, they are simply part of our experience which language reflects. This leaves color and pain unexplained, with no way so far for us to reconcile with science.

    Language is dualistic, because that’s our experience of the world.
    Marchesk

    That's not my experience (nor, I think, anyone else's). And its not clear to me what you think medical science is doing if not investigating the causes of pain and suffering.

    You and I seem to carve up the world differently despite using similar-sounding words. That's a language issue and it affects how we perceive problems such as the "hard" problem.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    "Green" in its ordinary public sense is not a qualitative state, it's a property of certain objects that human beings can point to (trees, grass, etc.) There's a qualitative/experiential aspect in the pointing, but not in the objects.Andrew M

    This is muddled. WHAT is the "qualitative state" then? That is the hard question. Qualitative states exist, you are proposing. I agree. Also, physical occurrences that correspond with the qualitative state exist, as you said:

    The scientific usage of "green", while related, has a different referent (i.e., we're pointing at something else, namely a range of light wavelengths).Andrew M

    By saying they have a different referent, you are just restating that it appears to be a different phenomena. How is it that these two things are related, or are one in the same though? Hence the hard question. If they are not related, then you still have the question, "What are the qualitative states"? What is quale, as compared with the scientific explanation that causes or corresponds with quale?

    As I see it, problems are solved by differentiating our experiences, developing a public language around them, and generating testable hypotheses. That is what scientists (and to some extent all of us in our everyday lives) do. The philosophers' role is to resolve/dissolve the conceptual problems that arise.Andrew M

    Conceptual problems arise sometimes, when there is legitimately no good explanation how two phenomena that seem different are the same. That is the hard problem.
  • Relativist
    862
    Conceptual problems arise sometimes, when there is legitimately no good explanation how two phenomena that seem different are the same. That is the hard problem.schopenhauer1
    I suggest that there are non-verbal concepts, and this includes qualia like greenness. The "concept" of greenness is that mental image that we perceive. The word "green" refers to this quale. The range of wavelengths associated with greenness are those wavelengths that are associated with this quale. Color-blind humans who lack the ability to distinguish red from green do not know greenness - they only know ABOUT greenness.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    I suggest that there are non-verbal concepts, and this includes qualia like greenness. The "concept" of greenness is that mental image that we perceive. The word "green" refers to this quale. The range of wavelengths associated with greenness are those wavelengths that are associated with this quale. Color-blind humans who lack the ability to distinguish red from green do not know greenness - they only know ABOUT greenness.Relativist

    But they still have some experience- even if not the same as a majority of people. What is this experience as compared to the wavelength/neural states that correspond with the experience? This isn't a semantic question, but a metaphysical one. By simply restating that there are qualia like greenness (or whatever subjective experience the person has, like in the case of colorblindness), and that there are wavelengths associated with green, we aren't saying much except what we already know. So how are you dissolving this problem?
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    The experience of greenness is nonverbal; words cannot convey the experience.Relativist

    Words can convey that we have those experiences. As a sighted person, when you say you saw something red, I can visualize or remember red.

    Oliver Sacks has one story of a person with brain trauma who lost the ability to not only see but remember colors. Their world became shades of gray. Communicating red to them would be like a talking bat communicating sonar to us. We know it exists, but we wouldn't know what it's like, or in this person's case, be able to put yourself into that state.

    What problems are you referring to?Relativist

    That consciousness isn't limited to perception. Let's say for sake of argument the naive realist view of colors, smells, tastes, sounds and feels was correct. Even in that case, it leaves a hard problem for memory, imagination, dreams and hallucination, because those experiences originate in the brain and not the outside world.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    The "concept" of greenness is that mental image that we perceive. The word "green" refers to this quale. The range of wavelengths associated with greenness are those wavelengths that are associated with this quale.Relativist

    Right, and it is these concepts which cannot be reconciled with our scientific concepts.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    That's not my experience (nor, I think, anyone else's).Andrew M

    It's been the human experience since at least philosophical inquiry began and the distinction between appearance and reality was a thing. Thus the word phenomenal and science attempting to explain what appears to us. The table appears solid, but it's not solid in the way it seems to be to us. Everyone is surprised when they learn a table is mostly empty space. Nor does it have as well a defined boundary as it appears, because its actual boundary is molecular.

    Similarly, the table's color is just how our visual system perceives the light bouncing off the table, as opposed to the radio, gamma, X-Rays going through the table. Or the infrared or ultraviolet bouncing off. If we could perceive the entire EM spectrum of the sky, it wouldn't be blue. Thus the sky on a clear, sunny day is not actually blue, that's just our experience of it.

    Furthermore, our color experience is correlated with whatever neural activity results in a color experience. This neural activity is not blue or painful. But it somehow results in blue or pain. And nobody can why or how that's the case, other than it's a correlation.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    What is the difference between those and that which does not count as being those?creativesoul

    Phenomenal: color, sound, smell, taste, pain, pleasure, hot, cold, thoughts, beliefs, desires, dreams, feelings.

    Non: shape, space, time, composition, number, structure, function, computation, information, empirical.
  • Marchesk
    2.9k
    Consciousness is not the problem. Our account of it is.creativesoul

    Obviously it's not a problem for nature. It's a problem for humans because we can't figure out what the proper account of consciousness is. And depending on what the proper account is, our ontology or epistemology might need to change to reflect that.
  • creativesoul
    6.6k
    What is the difference between those and that which does not count as being those?
    — creativesoul

    Phenomenal: color, sound, smell, taste, pain, pleasure, hot, cold, thoughts, beliefs, desires, dreams, feelings.

    Non: shape, space, time, composition, number, structure, function, computation, information, empirical.
    Marchesk

    You listed some of each. That's not what I was asking for. I'm asking for the difference between what we call "phenomenal concepts" and what are not called "phenomenal concepts". Perhaps this be better put a bit differently...

    What is it that makes either one what it is... phenomenal or not?

    What do phenomenal concepts have in common such that that commonality makes them count as being phenomenal, whereas the non phenomenal concepts do not have/share this same common denominator or set thereof?
  • creativesoul
    6.6k
    Consciousness is not the problem. Our account of it is.
    — creativesoul

    Obviously it's not a problem for nature. It's a problem for humans because we can't figure out what the proper account of consciousness is. And depending on what the proper account is, our ontology or epistemology might need to change to reflect that.
    Marchesk

    Indeed. That time has long since passed. A paradigm shift is long overdue. The problem is very deep. Academia hasn't gotten thought/belief right. Consciousness is existentially dependent upon thought/belief. Thus...
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