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The Knowledge Argument – Mary’s Room (The Color Scientist)


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Inner experiences are not accessible, as if this were the case, there wouldn’t be hard problems with consciousness in general. We would know each other’s beetle in the box, and language wouldn’t be this large compensation to make inferences about it.

Inner experiences are accessible. A civilization with sufficiently advanced technology would be able to do it with trivial ease. I'm not sure how they'd do it, because I don't know what sort of sci-fi tech they would use, but it's definitely possible for them to do so.

 

How can physical matter, that’s non-experiential, suddenly turn into experiential matter?

There's no such thing as "experiential matter"; everything is physical. The "experience" you have is more or less an illusion generated by your brain so it can more efficiently process information.

 

If this is the case, what would you say about imposition? How can there be a physical instantiation of a tulpa, or any after-image/hallucination/projection?

Ordinary seeing:

- photons hit object

- photons bounce into eye

- eye sends signal to brain

- brain gets visual signal

- you "see" something("seeing" here being an illusion to indicate that the visual signal is received and processed)

 

Imposition:

- nothing to bounce off

- you force your brain to process an artificial signal

- brain gets what it things is a visual signal

- you "see" something

 

You can’t state it’s neurons that are the qualia, as we would be having our neurons shooting at the atmosphere to project this; no point in having a skull, actually.

What does this mean?

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Inner experiences are accessible. A civilization with sufficiently advanced technology would be able to do it with trivial ease. I'm not sure how they'd do it, because I don't know what sort of sci-fi tech they would use, but it's definitely possible for them to do so.

 

This is still based on assumptions and wishful playing with science fiction. You can’t validate that they are accessible based on assumptions alone. You acknowledge that you can’t know the “how” behind it, so what makes believing in it being possible, in your opinion, for others?

 

There's no such thing as "experiential matter"; everything is physical. The "experience" you have is more or less an illusion generated by your brain so it can more efficiently process information.

 

So we’re all just p-zombies making random utterances, and believing we are sentient? It seems it’s related more of idealism, and other worldviews that match it, e.g., solipsism. Or, that we’re just dead machines operated by some will of our brain. If the brain is generating these experiences as illusions, this implies that this reality is mind-dependent vs. a reality being independent from the mind.

 

So ironically, even though you try to structure it as everything being physical, you’re disregarding certain aspects that could be non-physical, and would be incoherent to explain even if one, like Mary, had all verbal knowledge of physical facts of the world. That’s one of many points behind the thought experiment.

 

Imposition:

- nothing to bounce off

- you force your brain to process an artificial signal

- brain gets what it things is a visual signal

- you "see" something

 

Through that distinction you made, and what you asked here:

 

What does this mean?

 

How can you still make the distinction that qualia, or some proponent of it can be physical that we can all “access” in some way? That neurons that are qualia in your presumption assumes they are physical to where in order to have after-images, etc. bounce off, and everything being based on physical constraints, it’s disregarding non-physical phenomena entirely. The “no point in having a skull” is really an extreme statement that if everything emerges physically, there has to be a space and location it occupies in order for one to see them. But, it ends up falling short because you have to take into consideration of some obvious limits with that and this reality. That distinction you made would imply that you acknowledge that there is an emergence of something that doesn’t have a physical attribute to it.

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This is still based on assumptions and wishful playing with science fiction. You can’t validate that they are accessible based on assumptions alone. You acknowledge that you can’t know the “how” behind it, so what makes believing in it being possible, in your opinion, for others?

This is not "wishful playing with science fiction". We know, on a definite level, that thoughts are caused by neurons firing. It's not unreasonable to say that if we learnt how to manipulate neurons, we would be able to tap into the thoughts of others.

 

So we’re all just p-zombies making random utterances, and believing we are sentient? It seems it’s related more of idealism, and other worldviews that match it, e.g., solipsism. Or, that we’re just dead machines operated by some will of our brain. If the brain is generating these experiences as illusions, this implies that this reality is mind-dependent vs. a reality being independent from the mind.

We are not p-zombies - we are actually sentient. Try to grasp the fact that your experiences can be explained in purely physical terms while still allowing you to remain sentient.

 

Reality is independent of the mind, but the reality that you see is mind-dependent. That's why it's possible to make mistakes, like thinking that a random stranger on the street is your friend from afar.

 

How can you still make the distinction that qualia, or some proponent of it can be physical that we can all “access” in some way? That neurons that are qualia in your presumption assumes they are physical to where in order to have after-images, etc. bounce off, and everything being based on physical constraints, it’s disregarding non-physical phenomena entirely.

Absolutely correct. Anything in the world that you think is non-physical is an illusion. Sometimes it's an illusion hiding a real thing, like the illusion of "smell" thrown over the olfactory signals in your brain. Sometimes it's an illusion hiding nothing at all, and you're just fooling yourself.

 

The “no point in having a skull” is really an extreme statement that if everything emerges physically, there has to be a space and location it occupies in order for one to see them. But, it ends up falling short because you have to take into consideration of some obvious limits with that and this reality.

Can you explain this statement further?

 

That distinction you made would imply that you acknowledge that there is an emergence of something that doesn’t have a physical attribute to it.

Absolutely not. There is nothing that is non-physical. Non-physical things will not "emerge" - they will simply never exist, and anyone who says they does are just falling for the illusion their notoriously quirky brain generates.

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This is not "wishful playing with science fiction". We know, on a definite level, that thoughts are caused by neurons firing. It's not unreasonable to say that if we learnt how to manipulate neurons, we would be able to tap into the thoughts of others.

 

All that we know, on a definite level with how thoughts are caused is simply a process. But that doesn’t mean it gives us direct access to see those inner experiences from a third person point of view. This is still wishful thinking to state because again, unless I’m seeing some kind of paradigm shift in Science based on that being sufficient enough to know what’s going on in a person’s POV, the physical knowledge alone cannot demonstrate that POV. This is what I’m talking about—that inaccessibility to see a person’s POV, and I’m not talking about a POV that’s based on the person’s POV to “imagine” another’s POV.

We are not p-zombies - we are actually sentient. Try to grasp the fact that your experiences can be explained in purely physical terms while still allowing you to remain sentient.

 

Reality is independent of the mind, but the reality that you see is mind-dependent. That's why it's possible to make mistakes, like thinking that a random stranger on the street is your friend from afar.

 

You acknowledge that the brain can project hallucinations, after-images, illusions, etc. No argument there. I have yet to see any facts that shows that experiences, especially the inaccessibility of another person’s inner experiences, can be explained in purely physical terms. If you can acknowledge that there are illusions, and such, you are acknowledging the probability that the brain can project these things, and that implies that there are emergent properties. Sure, they may not be physical, but that’s the thing—those same physical components you’re talking about would be causing those non-physical attributes. But, those same physical components cannot explain about those non-physical attributes in of themselves.

 

If anything, you may be inclined to believe in some kind of dualism, especially property dualism in this case where you acknowledge there being one kind of substance, but there would be two properties: physical properties, and mental properties. If you acknowledge that we’re not p-zombies, you acknowledge that we’re sentient, and conscious experiencers, which means there is mental phenomenon going on; it’s not just random firing of neurons to give the impression that were sentient even though in the p-zombie case, they’re just random utterances.

 

The thought experiment clearly shows how qualia seems to be an ineffable thing at times. Even for the materialistic worldviews (e.g. physicalism), it cannot grasp a demonstration of another mind’s POV. And even if it’s explained as neurons firing, that is just a process, but not a demonstration where there’s direct access of first person perspective from a third person standpoint (e.g. a person seeing how that POV is created, and simulated through the other mind’s inner experiences).

 

Absolutely correct. Anything in the world that you think is non-physical is an illusion. Sometimes it's an illusion hiding a real thing, like the illusion of "smell" thrown over the olfactory signals in your brain. Sometimes it's an illusion hiding nothing at all, and you're just fooling yourself.

 

Illusion of smell, or even an illusion of color; this is hardly something related to anyone grounded on physicalism. It seems to be the direct opposite as there would’ve been more preference to ground upon earthly correlations like validating if the color of orange is really orange, especially if another person can confirm if that’s orange.

 

Can you explain this statement further?

 

If you want to believe that these things can be explained solely on physical terms, you have to first figure out how it’s going to occupy something in space and time, which is clearly one attribute of something being physical. If it emerges physically in some way, that investigation still applies. If you have nothing to reconcile with to see how these things that I would state would have emergent properties of some kind, then the explanation falls short because there’s an explanatory gap; it may be able to get into the technical, procedural side, but not in a qualitative manner.

 

Absolutely not. There is nothing that is non-physical. Non-physical things will not "emerge" - they will simply never exist, and anyone who says they does are just falling for the illusion their notoriously quirky brain generates

 

“Emerge” is not exclusive to physical, though. I’m talking about being emerged in respect to a person’s inner experiences of things. It’s the same thing for after-images, illusions, projections, etc.

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All that we know, on a definite level with how thoughts are caused is simply a process. But that doesn’t mean it gives us direct access to see those inner experiences from a third person point of view. This is still wishful thinking to state because again, unless I’m seeing some kind of paradigm shift in Science based on that being sufficient enough to know what’s going on in a person’s POV, the physical knowledge alone cannot demonstrate that POV. This is what I’m talking about—that inaccessibility to see a person’s POV, and I’m not talking about a POV that’s based on the person’s POV to “imagine” another’s POV.

No, we definitely know enough about how thoughts work to know that it's possible to experience another person's thoughts.

 

I have yet to see any facts that shows that experiences, especially the inaccessibility of another person’s inner experiences, can be explained in purely physical terms.

What do you mean? Hallucinations are caused by neurons false-alarming, and firing when there's nothing there.

 

If you can acknowledge that there are illusions, and such, you are acknowledging the probability that the brain can project these things, and that implies that there are emergent properties. Sure, they may not be physical, but that’s the thing—those same physical components you’re talking about would be causing those non-physical attributes. But, those same physical components cannot explain about those non-physical attributes in of themselves.

Let me put it this way...

 

I see my tulpa in front of me through visual imposition. This is my experience. The experience is fake. It has nothing to do with what is actually going on.

 

What is actually going on: my neurons are going pew pew pew and my brain receives the pew pew pew and goes bang bang bang and the bang bang bang is processed by another bit in my brain whose only job is to take in bangs and spit out images and it processes it and spits out the image of the tulpa. All of this is accomplished through electric signals, purely physical.

 

If you acknowledge that we’re not p-zombies, you acknowledge that we’re sentient, and conscious experiencers, which means there is mental phenomenon going on; it’s not just random firing of neurons to give the impression that were sentient even though in the p-zombie case, they’re just random utterances.

What do you mean by "random firing of neurons"? The neurons fire in fixed patterns based on how they've fired in the past. A human life is just neurons firing over and over and over altering their patterns based on previous fires. All of this is, once again, physical. If you consider this random firing and that humans are p-zombies, then I guess they would be p-zombies by my definition. And if that means I'm not sentient, I don't particularly care. I've never had it and don't want it.

 

The thought experiment clearly shows how qualia seems to be an ineffable thing at times.

Oh yes, it definitely does. Because humans are bad at processing shit and lump stuff they can't explain under "ineffable".

 

Illusion of smell, or even an illusion of color; this is hardly something related to anyone grounded on physicalism. It seems to be the direct opposite as there would’ve been more preference to ground upon earthly correlations like validating if the color of orange is really orange, especially if another person can confirm if that’s orange.

Nonsense. Since all illusions are caused by misfiring neurons, all illusions are neurons, and neurons are physical. So all illusions are physical. They're just not the physical you think they are(you think they're physical in terms of flesh and bone, they're really just brain cells rubbing).

 

If you want to believe that these things can be explained solely on physical terms, you have to first figure out how it’s going to occupy something in space and time, which is clearly one attribute of something being physical. If it emerges physically in some way, that investigation still applies.

Uh... this seems simple enough. My brain is at coordinates (X, Y, Z, .....) on the space-time continuum, so that's how it occupies that position. Investigation complete! Good work, gang.

 

“Emerge” is not exclusive to physical, though. I’m talking about being emerged in respect to a person’s inner experiences of things. It’s the same thing for after-images, illusions, projections, etc.

Inner experiences do not actually exist. I repeat, inner experiences do not exist. This is the most critical point that I am trying to make. It makes no sense to talk about a person's inner experiences, because they do not exist.

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No' date=' we definitely know enough about how thoughts work to know that it's possible to experience another person's thoughts.[/quote']

Inner experiences do not actually exist. I repeat' date=' inner experiences do not exist. This is the most critical point that I am trying to make. It makes no sense to talk about a person's inner experiences, because they do not exist.[/quote']

 

You acknowledge that we apparently found the holy grail in knowing what’s going on in a person’s experience, which implies it’s a personal, inner experience. And yet, in the second quotation, you state that inner experiences do not actually exist. If you’re talking about physically existing, then that’s obviously something we can agree against. But as for it being a non-physical attribute, a mental attribute, then I’m not so sure why you believe there’s some knowledge of what goes on in a person’s thoughts, and yet those same thoughts and inner experiences don’t exist to you. This is an example of Eliminative Materialism; physicalism does not coincide with this worldview whatsoever.

 

Uh... this seems simple enough. My brain is at coordinates (X' date=' Y, Z, .....) on the space-time continuum, so that's how it occupies that position. Investigation complete! Good work, gang.[/quote']

 

Then, can you find qualia on coordinates XYZ in the space-time continuum?

 

Nonsense. Since all illusions are caused by misfiring neurons, all illusions are neurons, and neurons are physical. So all illusions are physical. They're just not the physical you think they are(you think they're physical in terms of flesh and bone, they're really just brain cells rubbing).

 

All of those attributes are still physical. How can something be more physical than the other? Neurons, flesh, bone, and brain cells are all tangible things; we can dissect the brain, and feel all of that, and dissect the human body, and feel it, too. Just because you’re talking about a different circumstance of a physical object doesn’t mean it’s a different type of physical than the other; that seems to be replacing non-physical elements with physical, and it just shows there’s a large, explanatory gap for those mental events that physicalism cannot demonstrate completely.

 

Oh yes' date=' it definitely does. Because humans are bad at processing shit and lump stuff they can't explain under "ineffable".[/quote']

 

Yeah, an explanatory gap. This is definitely a real problem for theories of mind and consciousness. An ongoing one, unfortunately.

 

If you consider this random firing and that humans are p-zombies' date=' then I guess they would be p-zombies by my definition. And if that means I'm not sentient, I don't particularly care. I've never had it and don't want it.[/quote']

 

All I was stating is that if they lack conscious experience, then they would be p-zombies. The thought experiment of p-zombies obviously shows that we’re not p-zombies due to us being able to consciously experience things. But since you stated that inner experiences do not exist, even as a mental phenomenon, then yes, you are rejecting that this is a conscious experience. So, choosing not to care about it for your sake, I can’t do anything about that, but just take acknowledgment of how things don’t add up together when you claim certain things are illusions even though these components validate you having conscious experiences, and yet you still deny these as real, to you, and thus categorize yourself as a p-zombie without even wanting to.

 

I see my tulpa in front of me through visual imposition. This is my experience. The experience is fake. It has nothing to do with what is actually going on.

 

Basically, you feel the brain is projecting fake experiences, and you can never come to terms over what’s actually going on in this reality that’s mind-independent. You end up enslaving yourself to those fake experiences, and yet still rely on those fake experiences to come up with the conclusion that things are purely physical.

 

Naïve realism, for example, is a theory of perception where the senses provide us a direct awareness of the external world; you could even state it provides awareness that allows one to experience tangible things in the world. But even though there’s fallacies with this theory of mind, your presumption of experiences being fake, and even qualia being fake, and not real (even though it is real) is even more questionable than the naïve realism itself. Edit: Actually, I think you're more accepting of Eliminative Materialism, where it questions and is skeptical of mental events in the first place, almost to the point of wanting to eliminate it..no pun intended.

 

Even the presumption of neurons being qualia, I’m still having a hard time how non-experiential matter (since it can’t have experience, to you), suddenly gains experiential context to become experiential matter to fire off those illusions that are fake experiences themselves. It seems the brain doesn’t really need a self in this regard as it’s a roundabout way of validating itself.

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  • 5 months later...

One of my peeves.   Long since written in detail at http://antiphilosopher.com/wiki/index.php/Mary,_A_Philosopher%27s_Whore_of_Color_and_Her_Knowledge_Problem

 

The gist is fairly simple.   Mary does indeed learn something new.   And she did "know all there is to know about color ...".

 

The resolution is that this is not a paradox.     

 

Information is the correspondence between differing physicalities.   The correspondence between unmixed light wave frequencies bouncing off objects and reactions in Mary's brain to distinguish them DID NOT EXIST before she left her cloister.

 

Upon exposure to color new information was created in the universe. 

 

If her culture was sufficiently knowlegable she might well have known exactly what new neurons  and synapses would develop in her brain, and how quickly, and what new firing patterns woud occur.     But just as knowledge of diabetes, say, even down to the molecular level doesn't let the sufferer live without insulin,  knowing how her brain will change doesn't change it.  Only being exposed to the stimulae that generate the new connections do that.

 

The end result is that yes Mary could know before "all there is to know" and still learn something completely new, because her brain and her biophysical reactions are unique, thus the knowledge of her reactions, i.e ways of experiencing color, are brand new information - a physical change in her brain - that did not exist cloistered.

 

I've a cure for philosopher's flying vermin over on antiphilosopher, too.

 

-- TWZ

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hmmm... This has been studied. Situations like this cause brain abnormalities that prevent it from acquiring and processing the missing stimulus properly. I believe the condition can be recovered from.

 

As to the argument, the premises are flawed. To suggest that you don't know yourself fully if you don't know how you would experience colour is technically correct. However, this is a lack of self knowledge, and not a lack of knowledge about colour. The missing information is information about a physical fact. Information about the way in which stimulus would mix with your physiology to produce sensation.

 

@above: Your suggestion that new information is created is unexpected. You automatically refute things like determinism in making that claim. It would be a hard position to defend.

Host comments in italics. Tulpa's log. Tulpa's guide.

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  • 2 months later...

One of my peeves.   Long since written in detail at http://antiphilosopher.com/wiki/index.php/Mary,_A_Philosopher%27s_Whore_of_Color_and_Her_Knowledge_Problem...

 

I've a cure for philosopher's flying vermin over on antiphilosopher, too.

 

-- TWZ

 

The thing that bothered me about that link was this:

 

Mary's exposure to color creates NEW information in the universe that never before existed. She is physically changed by that experience

 

The philosopher's argument contains a misdirective fallacy. An implicit ceterus parabus, the assertion that there is no physical change in Mary, which is overtly and demonstrably wrong.

 

This is actually a straw man; using a sham argument to try to falsify the thought experiment. But notice that they’re merely mitigating the issue, i.e., dodging the question, as to whether or not her experiences of colors are also based on phenomenal events. The thought experiment is meant to prove physicalism is false in the sense that taking heed of these presumed physical changes is all there is needed to prove phenomenal events (e.g. experiences of color). The thought experiment isn’t exclusive in denying physicalism in its entirety. It’s devoted to show that it can’t be the end-all be-all worldview to conceptualize knowledge of things—even self-knowledge (because if that could really be the case, then we can figure out the physical instantiations of self-awareness, knowledge, and what have you; in other words, we would be able to pinpoint what instantiates consciousness itself…but where have we seen studies on how non-experiential matter becomes experiential matter all of a sudden without ironically using subjectivist ideologies (e.g. panpsychism, solipsism, etc.)?

 

Also, thats phrase ‘creates NEW information in the universe that never before existed’ adds on to the absurdity. The information that’s new to her, based on phenomenal events, and melding that phrase together implies this ‘universe’ was contingent on her having to experience it. In other words, her brain, or whatever instantiates her vision and knowledge of things was the creator of the Universe. That doesn’t really make sense. And even if that phrase is to be taken metaphorically, or even as a thought experiment, it, that entire argument in that link, has to rely on mind over matter to support preference over matter; the same misdirective fallacy it was hinting the color thought experiment was apparently doing.

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmm... This has been studied. Situations like this cause brain abnormalities that prevent it from acquiring and processing the missing stimulus properly. I believe the condition can be recovered from.

 

As to the argument, the premises are flawed....However, this is a lack of self knowledge, and not a lack of knowledge about colour. The missing information is information about a physical fact. Information about the way in which stimulus would mix with your physiology to produce sensation.

 

Lack of self-knowledge? I don’t think that thought experiment is questioning if Mary even acknowledges whether or not she’s a sentient being. It’s talking about the phenomenal knowledge of color, and how the mind instantiates a representation of color. There isn’t a denial that there’s physical changes to the brain when she experiences color. It’s a negation towards the ideal that physicalism alone, just from a physical change, is identical to her experiences of visualizing color in this kind of reality.

 

The missing information is how you downplayed the whole premise of knowledge about color in the phenomenal sense while using a distraction, i.e., self-knowledge, which would entail a completely different series of discourse altogether on how the mind instantiates this self-awareness. And like you mentioned with one not knowing themselves fully:

 

Take epiphenomenalism for instance, i.e., a one-way dualism where mental events are casually inert, i.e., mental events don’t change physical events. Add that to the thought experiment with Mary, and one has to question if she can even know her own mind. That is when your argument can have substance, but that’s only if the thought experiment alone was exclusive in supporting epiphenomenalism in general. But, it’s reveling in proving physicalism being false as the end-all be-all worldview to explain experiences through a physicalist lens; the people that support the notion that physicalism can do so have to answer how non-experiential matter, that we can both acknowledge as physical, becomes experiential matter.

 

That link that other person sent was just an elaborate red herring to this issue; this same issue that’s a hard problem of consciousness.

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Lack of self-knowledge? I don’t think that thought experiment is questioning if Mary even acknowledges whether or not she’s a sentient being.

 

Well, I may have forgotten parts of this thread, but I can tell you self knowledge is not limited in any way to sentience.

 

Consider this one question to see what I am saying. Does colour exist only in the person? Or does it exist objectively?

 

Reflecting on the original thought experiment, I believe the word colour is, perhaps used flexibly. A little too flexibly, referring not to one phenomenon, but two, depending on the sentence in which the word appears. In one sentence, it is a property of a person. In another, it is a property of the world.

 

This, I believe, is what I meant by flawed premises.

 


 

To elaborate in great detail, what counts as physical knowledge? Why does what it means to experience colour not count as physical knowledge about colour? If we go full reductionist here, I don't think we will have a problem demonstrating that the experience of colour is yet more information about colour of a physical nature.

 

There is also the opposite tack, to say, even after learning how she experiences colour, she knows nothing of how others experience colour. Consequently she has learned nothing new about how humans in general experience colour. She has only learned about herself.

Host comments in italics. Tulpa's log. Tulpa's guide.

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