Re: The return of the revenge of qualia, part VI.

From: Tennessee Leeuwenburg (
Date: Fri Jul 29 2005 - 01:13:39 MDT

> > My chief concern being that it would be possible to build a physical
> > mimic of intelligence without actually reproducing the mind. i.e. it
> > would be possible to build a zombie-brain, which has some
> > intelligence, but which has neither a mental life, nor does the
> > physics underlying its rules have any description of mental life.
> You have zero evidence for this. In my opinion it is impossible, but
> opinions are like....

Sorry, but that's not true. I have circumstantial evidence, based on
machine-based intelligences not demonstrating any mental life. The
onus is on them, because inanimate objects are taken to have no mental

Consciousness as arising from intelligence as ariving from various
physical systems is a plausible explanation. It might able be the
current best scientific theory, but if you were to analyse the
confidence we might have about such a position, I do not think you
could stake a strong claim to confidence about the matter.

Things with no mental life clearly exist. Ditto things which exhibit
complex behaviour and have no mental life.

> > I hope you see what I'm saying. I'm not anti-scientific - I really
> > want to hold that minds are reducible to *some* brains, but I don't
> > think it's true that *all* brains will give rise to minds. And we need
> > a scientific description of that difference.
> Well, what is there to a mind but information processing? Are you in the
> "brains have some special physical substrate that imbues them with
> mind-ness" camp? If info processing is all there is to it (as it seems) that
> still does not indicate that all mind-seeming processes are minds as we
> would understand them, but if the information processing is identical or
> substantially similar to that of a known mind, then what doubt can there be?

I would say it's more than processing, but depends on processing.

I don't know what the mechanism is - there is a gap in physics. I
would say it could be either specific kinds of processing have a
causitive effect in the physical realm, outside of what could be
predicted from the matter interaction per se -- i.e. there are
additional physical laws relating to processing which descript qualia.
OR alternatively, there is something specific about the matter
configuration of brains, which gives rise to qualia, and is not
necessitated by the processing.

I think it's possible that, for example, the physical matter
differences between our brains and, for example, a mechanical Turing
machine built from metals, might be relevant. I am not convinced that
mental processing is either demonstrably or convincingly reducible to
Turing computing. The brain is an analog machine, and may depend on
its physical layer in unexpected ways.

I am arguing for a degree of scepticism, and for more science to be
done, in order to determine the nature of qualia.

I don't think that I can, a priori, prove that qualia imply a
non-materialist position. However, I think I can, a priori, disprove
that a materialist position is necessarily true.

I have to head off from work now, but just wanted to quickly reply to
this. Will try to give it proper consideration later.


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