Re: What exactly is "panpsychism"?

From: Paul Fidika (
Date: Sun Jan 11 2004 - 20:10:36 MST

Metaqualia wrote:
>1. What determines what kind of particle collections can be used to create a
>"qualia producing apparatus"? You talk about the qualia of a rock, but the
>existence of the rock as a separate object from everything else is only an
>illusion created by our icon-driven visual/cognitive system. What about a
>rock + the tree next to it, plus half of the electrons in one arbitrary atom
>on Venus and the top half brain of the furry pink crab on the other side of
>the galaxy? Can this system create a qualia stream? If a rock can, then this
>system and any other one cares to imagine can also, and we go back to
>moravec's "all universes exist"

>2. Why do I experience the qualia stream arising from this particular brain
>and not that arising from Ben's brain? (of course the question is circular
>since I is the qualia stream itself, still from a first person perspective,
>which is the only kind of perspective that really exists, there is

Here is my own resolution to these two problems: two things form a "qualia producing apparatus" if they interact; that is, pass information. E.g., they are embodying some process. It's true that "everything is connected to everything else," so there must be "something it is like to be the universe," but some things are MUCH more densely connected than others and the bandwidth between two units of a system can vary GREATLY. So to say that a rock is separate from its environment would, technically, be a lie, as physical objects cannot be analyzed as a whole-in-itself while ignoring the context which shaped that object, but examining something separate from its context can be a very useful lie if done properly! A useful way to go about drawing lines between two things in the world would be to base the lines upon the amount of bandwidth between the two objects.

Now, for your Rock + Tree system; the bandwidth between the two systems consists mostly of photons reflected from one object being absorbed by the second object. This might affect things slightly on a microscopic-level, but on a macroscopic level, the two are not interacting at all; that rock will act precisely the same if the tree weren't there, and the tree would act precisely the same if the rock weren't there (of course, assuming that the tree is not growing out of the rock!). The Rock + Tree system is certainly a much less interesting qualia-stream than a rock or tree in itself! As for an arbitrary atom on Venus and a crab brain, again, the bandwidth between the two is non-existent, so they are not embodying any process.

You'll probably be able to guess where this is going at the moment; Ben and Metaqualia do not share qualia because the Ben + Metaqualia has far less bandwidth between Ben and Metaqualia than Ben and Metaqualia's neurons have between one another. If in the future Ben and Metaqualia can pass information in the same way different portions of your brain communicate with one another, then I believe that Ben and Metaqualia will definitely share qualia, and the Ben + Metaqualia system will probably have qualia quite different from either Ben or Metaqualia alone!

Samantha Atkins wrote:
>This seems confused. That which is "what it's like to be
>in some state" can only be relevant to an entity capable
>of such self-reflection. To attribute this to all things that
>can be in any state whatsoever is not justified. It is a
>projection of our own self-awareness universally.

A Zen Master in meditation ceases all thought, but presumably there is still some quale there, a "quale of nothingness," so I don't believe it's wholly unjustified to say that a rock could have a quale.

>Perhaps a more fruitful question may be whether a rock
>having qualia makes any difference or not.

Why, it makes no real difference at all really, but then again, the same can be said for the question of whether multiple universes actually exist or not! ;-p

~Paul Fidika

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