From: Ben Goertzel (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Jul 20 2005 - 15:16:12 MDT
> On 7/20/05, Ben Goertzel <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Norm,
> > What you're pointing out is basically the (in)famous "hard problem of
> > consciousness", isn't it?
> > I addressed this in an essay a while back
> > http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsyc/2004/HardProblem.htm
> Wow, I thought I was reading Marc Geddes there. :) But seriously,
> you've presented a lot of ideas without any method of verification.
Hey, that is not really true...
It's true that I don't describe specific experiments in that essay -- but
that essay contains a combination of purely philosophical content
(unverifiable like all pure philosophy is) and philosophy-guided scientific
For instance, that essay contains the hypothesis
that the brain processes associated with consciousness will be the brain
processes associated with representing newly perceived or conceived
patterns, enacting new patterns, or taking pattern-codes out of memory and
reassembling them into patterns once again.
If you want to make this into a scientific hypothesis that will please the
Dennett-oid hypermaterialist consciousness-deniers of the world, just
rephrase it as:
that the brain processes associated with [verbal reports of] consciousness
will be the brain processes associated with representing newly perceived or
conceived patterns, enacting new patterns, or taking pattern-codes out of
memory and reassembling them into patterns once again.
Then you can think of this as a scientific hypothesis about *verbal reports
of consciousness* among humans, and you can dodge the question of whether
"verbal reports of consciousness" relate to any kind of "real qualia."
Of course, if the hypothesis of qualia is found to consistently suggest
scientific hypotheses that wind up to be validated by experiment [and I know
this hasn't happened yet, but the science of consciousness is still very
young], then this would seem to be some sort of justification for the
This latter sentence is in fact an argument that qualia may be roughly as
"real" as electrons, or trees, are. The electron is a fictitious entity --
it's a way of organizing data from various instruments, and assuming it
exists helps us to generate a lot of valid hypotheses. So we talk as if
electrons are real when in fact all there are, are patterns. The same
argument in fact applies to trees. Electrons, trees and qualia are all
concepts that we create in order to organize the patterns we experience.
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