The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience.
cognitive abilities and functions.
How do we explain the performance of a function?
By specifying a mechanism that performs the function.
[function, causation, explanation]
What makes the hard problem hard and almost unique
is that it goes beyond problems about the performance of functions.
no analogous further question in the explanation of genes, or
of life, or of learning.
This is not to say that experience has no function
[correlation, causality, telekinesis]
chaos and nonlinear dynamics
nonalgorithmic processing Penrose (1989; 1994)
discoveries in neurophysiology
The moral of all this is:
you can't explain conscious experience on the cheap
reductive methods - systematic reasons why these methods must fail.
vitalist claim that no physical account could explain life
but the cases are disanalogous
disanalogous to the élan vital
the problem is too hard for our limited minds
conscious experience outside the domain of scientific theory altogether.
"I think this pessimism is premature."
theory of consciousness should take experience as fundamental.
Where there is a fundamental property, there are fundamental laws
psychophysical principles will "not interfere" with physical laws,
physical laws already form a closed system.
they will be a supplement to a physical theory
tells us how physical processes give rise to experience.
[How? Parallelism? Correlates? Causation?
does not tell us why there is experience in the first
-- same for any fundamental theory
[So, no answer to "Why?"]
an innocent version of dualism
theory of consciousness will have more in common
with a theory in physics than a theory in biology
this position still concedes an explanatory gap
between physical processes and experience
[How? Why? Causality needed, not
This sort of analysis can yield a number of principles
relating consciousness and cognition... a fundamental theory
A nonreductive theory of consciousness
will consist in a number of psychophysical principles
connecting the properties of physical processes to the properties of experience
[Correlation, not causation, hence not an explanation]
The principle of structural coherence.
coherence between the structure of consciousness
and the structure of awareness
[just correlation: redundant distinction,
multiplying entities, question-begging]
[access to processing vs "access" to consciousness:
data/algorithms used vs. conscious (felt)
why/how used is "easy"
why/how felt is hard]
contents of awareness:
direct availability for global control
directly accessible, potentially reportable
Awareness is a purely functional notion
but it is nevertheless intimately linked to conscious experience
[correlated: why/how felt?]
Every subject's experience can be at least partly characterized and decomposed
in terms of these structural properties: similarity and difference relations
[Correlations: how? why?
and what about commensurability?]
For every distinction between color experiences
there is a corresponding distinction in processing
correlations: how/why felt?]
The three-dimensional structure of phenomenal color space
corresponds directly to the three dimensional structure of visual awareness
[correlates: how/why felt?
geometric structure of the visual field
directly reflected in a structure that can be recovered from visual processing
given only the story about information-processing
in an agent's visual and cognitive system,
we could not directly observe that agent's visual experiences
but we could nevertheless infer those experiences' structural properties
[Goal is not mind-reading (telepathy),
but causal explanation (non telekinetic):
how/why are "experiences" felt?]
information that is consciously experienced
will also be cognitively represented
simply restating the phenomenon
how? why? otherwise merely
The fine-grained structure of the visual field
will correspond to some fine-grained structure in visual processing
[will correlate: how/why?]
Even emotions have structural properties,
such as relative intensity,
that correspond directly to a structural property of processing
[correlate: how/why? and commensurability?]
between the structures of consciousness and awareness
constitutes the principle of structural coherence
[Unexplained (and redundant)
principle allows us to recover structural properties
from information-processing properties
[correlation allows prediction,
but explanation requires causal mechanism]
but not all properties of experience are structural properties:
e.g. the intrinsic nature of a sensation of red
cannot be fully captured in a structural description
[the felt quality is all of the
and it is not "captured" at all without
explaining the correlations causally:
inverted spectrum scenarios,
where experiences of red and green are inverted
but all structural properties remain the same,
show that structural properties constrain experience
without exhausting it
[Without even touching the (hard) fact that
experience is felt experience]
The principle of structural coherence
allows for a very useful kind of indirect explanation
[No explanation: merely restatement of
correlation between function and feeling]
The coherence between consciousness and awareness
also allows a natural interpretation of work in neuroscience
directed at isolating the substrate (or the neural correlate) of consciousness.
[Correlation allow interpretation of correlation
as correlation, between behavior and brain function
and between both of those and feeling:
what is needed is how/why explanation
of how/why the function is felt]
if we accept the coherence principle
we have reason to believe
that the processes that explain awareness
will at the same time be part of the basis of consciousness.
The principle of organizational invariance.
any two systems with the same fine-grained functional organization
will have qualitatively identical experiences
what matters for the emergence of experience
is not the specific physical makeup of a system,
but the abstract pattern of causal interaction between its components
[some functions are implementation-independent
some are not;
all computation is imlementation-independent
but cognitive function is not all computational function;
computation is not causality;
and none of this explains the correlation
between function and feeling]
reductio ad absurdum
one system is made of neurons and the other of silicon,
one experiences red where the other experiences blue
imagine gradually transforming one into the other
Along this spectrum, there must be two systems A and B
that are physically identical,
except that a small neural circuit in A has been replaced by a silicon circuit in B.
What happens when we flip the switch?
By hypothesis, the system's conscious experiences
will change; from red to blue,
But there is no way for the system to notice the changes!
Its causal organization stays constant
so that all of its functional states and behavioral dispositions stay
functionally equivalent is not the same as identical,
only empirically identical is;
so feelings could be changing, without their
changingness itself being felt ("change-blindness")
-- the incommensurability problem.
But this is all just unconstrained speculation, as
the (hard) question of the causal basis for the correlation
is left as unexplained as ever]
functionally isomorphic systems must have the same sort of experiences
[Only empirical identity is 100% functional
isomorphism: and that
does not solve any problems: just shows computation is not causality,
and cognition is not just computation]
the only physical properties directly relevant
to the emergence of experience
are organizational properties.
every structural JND;
The double-aspect theory of information.
between certain physically embodied information spaces
and certain phenomenal (or experiential) information spaces.
information (or at least some information) has two basic aspects,
a physical aspect and a phenomenal aspect
and all information?
what about mereology (parts)?]
physical changes that correspond
to changes in conscious experience
are always relevant by virtue of their role in
constituting informational changes
[ how/why felt information?]
...whether all information has a phenomenal aspect.
mouse has a simpler information-processing structure than a human,
correspondingly simpler experience
perhaps a thermostat,
might have maximally simple experience?
physics characterizes its basic entities only extrinsically
in terms of their relations to other entities,
intrinsic nature of physical entities is left aside
[how/why should anything be