Re: virus: Science and Religion
Thu, 3 Oct 1996 23:15:09 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 2 Oct 1996, Steve wrote:

> On Mon, 30 Sep 1996 23:32:12 -0500 (CDT) Kenneth Boyd wrote:
> >> > The problem with subjective entities such as desire and qualia is that they
> >> > can only ever be observed, never proven or measured.
> >Steve, I'm going to need to know what you mean by "observe" and "measure"
> >before the conflict between the two becomes intelligible to me.
> An alternative word to "observe" is "experience". As David Chalmers says,
> seeing "redness" can only ever be experienced. It is the *meaning* that our
> brain attributes to a wavelength of light and arguably, there is no aspect
> of this experience that is measurable. Not even, for example, measuring the
> electrical current passing between neurons, or understanding the nature of
> the neural circuitry would shed light on this subjective experience - even
> if it was possible for science to develop to so detailed a level (David
> Chalmers calls this circuitry perspective the 'easy' problem and the
> subjective experience aspect the 'hard' problem). "Measure", on the other
> hand, is when we try to quantify a value, eg, as by measuring a length or a
> weight - though I have some things to say in relation to the subjectivity of
> this "objective" experience as well!

Clear enough. However, notice: while the qualia of "redness" can
only be experienced, whether a physical object evokes this qualia in a
normal-color vision human under specified conditions IS objective.

[I had to specify the normalcy of the color vision. There are spectra,
in wavelength terms, that evoke distinct qualia for R/G color-blind persons,
while evoking identical[indistinguishable] qualia for normal-color vision

[A more extreme example (Oliver Sacks' "An Anthropologist from Mars") is
an artist who lost all color vision about 4 days after a car accident.
Apparently, the damage totally deleted the part of the brain that imparts
color perception. When tested using the Mondrian test [whatever that
is; it needs many colors of light], the artist could only see raw light
intensity--he was describing that part MUCH faster than anyone could
compute it. This actually is worth something in my science fantasy

/ Kenneth Boyd