RE: Objective versus subjective reality: which is primary?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Jul 20 2005 - 22:35:49 MDT


> > > You have to demonstrate that
> > > qualia can be detected from outside the system. They can't be. They
> > > don't exist.
> >
> > Interestingly, my reaction to this statement of yours is about
> the same as
> > your initial reaction to my paper.
> >
> > In other words, in these sentences, you seem to me to be
> stringing together
> > words in a completely meaningless, empty and useless way ;-)
> Empty and useless? Then I guess the entire scientific method is empty
> and useless. My statement reformulated the same clear premise.

The scientific method is not nearly as simple as you suggest, see my
thoughts on that in

-- an essay I *am* pretty happy with...

Science often involves the introduction of explanatory concepts as part of
overarching theoretical frameworks, even when these concepts are hard to
rigorously define or measure. An example is "force" in classical physics.
What is "force", actually? It's a totally unnecessary concept in classical
physics, yet it has a great heuristic power, so it's convenient to think of
it as "real".... But in the end it's just a crutch for allowing us to infer
new patterns from old....

> > Basically, what you do here is to implicitly define "exist" in
> a way that
> > rules out qualia, and then say qualia don't exist. Big deal! The
> > interesting question is: what is the right definition of "exist" ...
> Yes, it also rules out invisible pink unicorns. And until you can put
> forth a reasoned and recurrently verifiable way to distinguish between
> the two from an objective perspective, I can continue to treat them as
> the same kind of thing.

Well, as a moderately relevant side point, the hypothesis of invisible pink
unicorns (like the hypothesis of aether) seems not to lead to useful
verifiable hypotheses. The hypothesis of qualia (much like "force") does
seem to...

-- Ben

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