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March 25, 2013


Mike Johnson

I very much enjoyed both pieces.

It seems to me that we know neural systems can generate qualia and valence. The characteristic quality of neural systems is frequency. Frequency can spawn many levels of abstraction, and may be argued to be, if not a fundamental property of reality, a rather close fit. All of the 'emergent' examples you provide seem to ultimately piggyback on frequency dynamics. The concept of a panpsychism based on frequency (as many seem to be) might be worth a mention.

Perhaps this is ad-hoc justification for the hypothesis I sent you a while back, however.

Elijah Armstrong

Thanks for this. Elijah

Luke Roelofs

I really like the ‘combination problem’ paper. It’s useful to have all these different discussions, which often raise different problems, drawn together and organised, and I think I agree with you on most of the substantive judgements.

I was wondering, though, about how the classification presented here relates to the three elements of the grain problem that Lockwood distinguishes – you talk a lot about the ‘palette problem’ and the ‘mismatch problem’, which connect pretty directly to two of them, but the third element (the apparent lack of detail in macrophenomenology compared to the fantastic detail of microphysics and anything directly corresponding to it), doesn't come out so clearly.

Are you seeing this ‘lack of detail’ issue as just an aspect of the mismatch problem, or as more or less equivalent to what you've called the ‘revelation argument’ (I've been inclined towards the latter view)? Also, you suggest a response to the revelation argument in section 4, but don’t seem to mention it again in section 5. Should this be taken to mean you don’t think it’s a very serious problem?

On the subject of the mismatch problem, here’s one thing that makes me think its difficulty may be over-stated. Usual ways of expressing it involve comparing the structure of experience to the structure of the brain. But this seems like a mistake even apart from physical-vs.-phenomenal considerations, because experience is an event or process while the brain is a stable enduring object.

The appropriate thing to compare experience to is brain activity, and it’s much less obvious (to me at least) that the structure of brain activity doesn't match that of experience. Insofar as there’s an obvious answer to ‘how is brain activity structured?’, it seems like the best candidate is ‘as a mass of information flows’, and the particular sorts of flow involved seem to correspond pretty directly to what sort of experiences are being had. This doesn't show that the structures are isomorphic but for me it removes the sense that they’re obviously discrepant.

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