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James H.
user 13603321
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 140
EXPERIMENTS ON SPLIT-BRAIN SUBJECTS

The subject:

Corpus callosum is not functioning; so, no communication between the left cerebral hemisphere and the right cerebral hemisphere.
The capacity to understand and speak language is controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere.

Test:

The word “hat” is flashed in the left half of the visual field, or the object hat is felt unseen by the left hand. The right cerebral hemisphere controls the information processing of sensory stimulation from the left half of the visual field and from the left hand.

Result:

The subject does not report that he saw the word “hat” or that he felt a hat. However, when the word “hat” is flashed in the left half of the visual field, he can use his left hand to retrieve a hat from a group of concealed objects if he is told to pick out what he has seen. (Keep in mind: The right cerebral hemisphere also controls the motor movements performed by the left hand)

Interpretation:

(Less controversial) The subject did experience seeing the word “hat”, but did so unconsciously.
(More controversial) The subject did not experience seeing the word “hat”.

If the subject did experience seeing the word “hat”, but unconsciously, then the brain can receive visual information, caused by visual stimulation by the word “hat”, even if you are not conscious of experiencing seeing the word “hat”.

If the subject did not experience seeing the word “hat”, then the brain can receive visual information, caused by visual stimulation by the word “hat”, even if you do not have the experience of seeing the word “hat”. Since the subject was able to identify, with his left hand, the object referred to by the word “hat”, this suggests that:

1. your brain can receive visual information caused by visual stimulation by an object, and cause you to form a true belief on the basis of receiving the visual information, DESPITE the fact that you never had the visual experience of the object. If seeing something is just to have the right kind of causal role, this suggests that you can see something without having a visual experience, and therefore, without having a phenomenal character to your seeing it: THEREFORE, THE POSSIBILITY OF ZOMBIES IS A REAL EMPIRICAL POSSIBILITY!

2. The subject was able identify the referent of the word “hat”, on the basis of just being visually stimulated by the word “hat”, even though he didn’t have access to his capacity to understand or speak a language. This suggests that you can identify the referents of some words independently of your capacity to understand and speak a language. The subject also had a concept of what a hat was, in virtue of which he was able to identify the hat as being the object that visually stimulated him, DESPITE not having access to his capacity to understand or speak a language. This suggests that you have some concepts of what things are independently of your capacity to understand or speak a language. THEREFORE, WE HAVE SOME EMPIRICAL PROOF THAT YOU HAVE SOME CONCEPTS INDEPENDENTLY OF HAVING LANGUAGE.
Joshua A.
jabiv
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 23
I haven't been in the loop for a while. Can you reference the study?

Thanks!
Augustus
Dana R.
user 2673220
Group Organizer
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 41
I would go with option 2.

As far as the possibility of the old philosophical zombie, I am inclined to agree with Daniel Dennet. I think it is easy to fall for what he calls the "zombie hunch".
James H.
user 13603321
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 145
I haven't been in the loop for a while. Can you reference the study?

Thanks!
Augustus


"Some Functional Effects of Sectioning the Cerebral Commissures in Man", Gazaniga, Bogen, and Sperry. I'm basing my information about the studies on what Thomas Nagel has to say about it in "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness". Nagel has a completely different take on it than me.
Joshua A.
jabiv
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 24
Thanks, James!

I'm with Dana about zombies. I've never been concerned with such speculations. Once we understand cognition, I think such "hunches" will be untenable. Imagine if aliens came down and saw a car for the first time. They might wonder: "when we recreate this car will it have real car-ness or just be a fake car?" Certainly, the aliens can't help but implement a car differently if they have zero human guidance. Never the less, there is no reason to believe that their version won't have the essence of car if they figure out internal combustion, transduction of rotational energy down a drive shaft, brakes, etc. All the evidence is there.

The same is true for embodied brains. The amount of available neuroscience is quite remarkable. I suggest that what stands in our collective way of understanding cognition, per se, is not what we don't know about brains, but what we think we do know about complex systems. Zombie speculations stem from our traditionally mechanistic view of systems where causality is sequentially constrained and relationships between parts of the machine are functionally fixed. This cultural perspective frames our preconceptions, and subsequently narrows the available solutions to current questions about any number of quandaries. These preconceptions not only give rise to the "zombie hunch", but they also thwart implementation of synthetic mind. The hunch is really that of the automaton, i.e. "won't the minds we make just be mindless machines?" Well, not if they are made correctly.

Cheers
James H.
user 13603321
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 147
Augustus:

I think you’re misunderstanding something. The specific question here is: was the split-brain subject in a state of seeing the word “hat”, even though he didn’t have the experience of seeing it? I say: Why not? I don’t see any prima facie good reason why not. The commonsense view says: No. But why do they say no? The one reason I can think of goes like this: Having the experience of seeing is essential to being in a state of seeing. And they mean “essential” in an Aristotlean way: you can’t be in a state of seeing unless you are experiencing seeing. Analagously, one might say: being warm blooded is essential to being human, such that you can’t be human unless you’re warm blooded. My question then is: why is the experience of seeing essential to being in a state of seeing? To me, it seems like the only evidence they have of its being essential is that anytime they are in a state of seeing, they are experiencing seeing. That at best, however, just establishes a generalization, based on an inductive inference:

Anytime anyone’s been in a state of seeing, they have been experiencing seeing.
Therefore, anytime anyone is in a state of seeing, they are experiencing seeing.

Generalizations are refutable. And I am presenting a case that seems to refute it: the case of the split-brain subject. But they are rejecting it on the grounds that experiencing seeing is essential is being in a state of seeing. But their only grounds for that position is a generalization, which is refutable, and seems to be refuted by the very case that I’m presenting. Their argument, obviously, doesn’t work. Their premise doesn’t establish their conclusion, and they presume the truth of their conclusion in order to defend their premise.

Now, one of the points I was trying to make in what I originally wrote is this: if we have a case of someone who has been in state of seeing without experiencing seeing, then it’s ACTUALLY possible (as opposed to its just being LOGICALLY possible) that someone could be in every mental state without having any experiences.

If you don’t understand the connection between what I’m saying and zombies, it’s this:
To be in a zombie mental state is to be in a mental state without having an experience (the experience typically associated with being in that mental state)
To be a zombie is to have all and only mental states without having any experiences.
To be in a state of seeing without experiencing seeing is to be in a zombie mental state.
Dana R.
user 2673220
Group Organizer
Berkeley, CA
Post #: 43
You just perfectly described the zombie hunch. Dan Dennett wrote "Consciousness Explained" to address these exact issues. While I do not agree with everything in that book (I never agree with absolutely everything in any book), I think he makes some valid points about how we seem to consciously experience what he calls a "unified scene", and how we seem to have qualia.
James H.
user 13603321
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 148
You just perfectly described the zombie hunch. Dan Dennett wrote "Consciousness Explained" to address these exact issues. While I do not agree with everything in that book (I never agree with absolutely everything in any book), I think he makes some valid points about how we seem to consciously experience what he calls a "unified scene", and how we seem to have qualia.


You either have experiences, or you don't. And when you seem to be having an experience, you are either having it, or you're not. Now, let's look at a specific case. I seem to be experiencing hoping that it doesn't rain today. Now, i'm either in fact having that experience, or I'm not. Well, let's take the law of identity: that two things are the same thing if and only if they have all of the same features. We use this law in arithmetic, molecular biology, evolutionary biology, classical mechanics, geology, botany, genetics, etc. It's a pretty well-confirmed law, and its fundamental to all the sciences and to all of practical life (is this my house, or not; is this my boyfriend, or not?) Now, let's apply it here:

There is my seeming to be experiencing hoping that it doesn't rain today.
There is my experiencing hoping that it doesn't rain today.
There is no feature that the first has that the second doesn't, and vice versa.
Therefore, the first is the same thing as the second.

Therefore, seeming to be experiencing hoping that it doesn't rain today is sufficient for experiencing hoping that it doesn't rain today.

By extension of reasoning, you can apply this to all cases of seeming to have an experience, as long as the experience isn't factive. Therefore, seeming to have (a non-factive) experience is sufficient for having the experience. Therefore, there is no appearance/fact distinction when it comes to having an experience.

Now, it's more complicated when we talk about factive experiences. what's a factive experience? One way of understanding it: It's an experience that requires for it's existence the existence of something that exists independently of the experience. (sorry for the use of so many "existences" there, but it seems essential). For example, my experiencing seeing the computer screen in front of me requires for its existence the existence of the computer screen, which exists independently of my experience. Seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, smelling, knowing, remembering--these are all factive experiences. So, my seeming to experience seeing the computer screen is not sufficient for experiencing seeing it. Why? Because seeing is a factive experience. But whenever you are seeming to have a factive experience, you are still having an experience, a non-factive experience, even if you are not having the factive experience. For example: If I seem to be experiencing seeing the computer screen in front of me, and it is not the case that the computer screen is in front of me, it is also not the case that I'm experiencing seeing it; however, I'm still having an experience, a visual experience, which is non-factive. In fact, you can still describe that experience in factive terms: as a visual hallucination. So, in this respect, having a factive experience is having a non-factive experience that is capable of having one of two values : veridical or non-veridical. Having a visual experiennce is non-factive; when it's veridical, it's seeing; when it's non-verdical, it's visually hallucinating. Seeming to know is non-factive; when it's veridical, it's knowing; when it's non-veridical, it's having a false belief, or having an insufficiently justified belief. Seeming to remember is non-factive; when it's veridical, it's remembering; when it's non-veridical, it's having a false memory. Etc. The point here is that: whenever you seem to be having a factive experience, you can be wrong that you're having the factive experience, but you can't be wrong about having some experience, the non-factive experience.
Joshua A.
jabiv
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 25
I have not made any specific claims about your assertions, only about the general tendency to employ the "zombie hunch". Therefore you have insufficient information about whether I understood your intent or not; a "non-factive experience" perhaps? I, along with Dana and Dennett, are merely pointing out the weaknesses of any speculation regarding zombies.

In general, your words beget more misunderstanding than understanding. "Factive-ness" is about truth claims of which there are two possibilities: true or false. Your wordiness is being put in the service of framing a dynamic physical open systems, e.g. cognition, as a process of discrete categorization based on fixed rules of logic. Only a project predicated on fixed rules and discrete states has such use for terms like "factive" and "veridical".

For millennia, the majority of cognitive theorists have tried to fit cognition in this labyrinth of human logos. But nature, and the embodied brains that evolved within it, are not predicated on our presuppositions about truth/non-truth. Such projects put the cart before the horse. Despite the dressing, I understand exactly what you are doing: the exact same exercise that thus far has progressed little in understanding the brain in spite of the fantastic neuroscientific evidence of the last century.

I, for one, am trying to disavow people of this dead end project, which tries to contort open system dynamics into strict logic claims. Sure, logic and mathematics are fantastic and indispensable tools when used carefully, but they are brittle masters in the face of open systems. So, before I read more of your word tapestry please define "experience", "consciousness", "seeing", and "mental state" with at least a modicum of neuroscientific reference. Otherwise, we are circling the same old strange attractor.

I apologize in advance if I offend. I'm not refuting any of your points, per se. I am, however, challenging the pre-conceived rules you've chosen to play by, because they have not helped centuries of effort to understand mind in a Monist and dynamic universe. If you have no interest in this challenge, please carry on at your leisure with the time honored practice of word weaving and I'll move along to other threads.

Cheers.
James H.
user 13603321
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 149
I have not made any specific claims about your assertions, only about the general tendency to employ the "zombie hunch".

What’s the “zombie hunch”? There are zombies, or not. If you believe that there are no zombies, make the argument for it. Don’t just call the making of the claim that there are zombies “a zombie hunch”. Calling it that doesn’t establish that there are no zombies. It doesn’t establish anything. It’s no argument whatsoever.



Therefore you have insufficient information about whether I understood your intent or not; a "non-factive experience" perhaps?

This is complete nonsense. Or perhaps you’re just trying to be cheeky here. Having information isn’t having an experience. Doubting is. Getting irritated by what you wrote is. Being confused or surprised or disappointed about what you wrote is. So, saying that having information (insufficient or not) is a “non-factive experience” makes absolutely no sense. It’s a category mistake.



I, along with Dana and Dennett, are merely pointing out the weaknesses of any speculation regarding zombies.

You haven’t pointed out any weaknesses whatsoever. What you’ve done is called it “a hunch”, then name dropped “Dennett”, then expected all of that stuff to do the argumentative work for you. But it doesn’t. Wish it were that easy to establish substantive claims by just dropping big names, and calling the making of the claims “hunches”. Why the hell go to school then? And logically reason, and study? And rationally debate others who disagree with you?


In general, your words beget more misunderstanding than understanding. "Factive-ness" is about truth claims of which there are two possibilities: true or false. Your wordiness is being put in the service of framing a dynamic physical open systems, e.g. cognition, as a process of discrete categorization based on fixed rules of logic. Only a project predicated on fixed rules and discrete states has such use for terms like "factive" and "veridical".

You’re making another category mistake (notice a pattern? You have a problem recognizing subtle distinctions. And if you believe the distinctions aren’t distinctions, but they represent two thing that are in fact the same, then make the argument for it. Hell, I’m open to being wrong, and learning something new. But you have to make the argument. I’m not just gonna accept what you say as true just because you said it). What’s the category mistake? That, as you say: "Factive-ness" is about truth claims of which there are two possibilities: true or false”

Factiveness is a feature of experiences.
Truth and falsity are features of claims.
Claims are linguistic expressions
Experiences are not linguistic expressions. (Doubting, hating, worrying, lusting, feeling sad, hoping, feeling a tickle, etc.: these aren’t linguistic expressions!)
Therefore, factiveness is not a feature of experiences.
Therefore, factiveness is not about claims.

Now, that’s an argument! Now, there is a relationship between the proper subset of linguistic expressions that are subject to being true or false (declarative sentences, which when language users use them in the appropriate context, become a type of speech act: claims, assertions, declarations, suggestions, statements, etc.), and experiences (to be more precise, mental states, which those experiences are features of), but I won’t bother digressing into that now.


For millennia, the majority of cognitive theorists have tried to fit cognition in this labyrinth of human logos. But nature, and the embodied brains that evolved within it, are not predicated on our presuppositions about truth/non-truth. Such projects put the cart before the horse. Despite the dressing, I understand exactly what you are doing: the exact same exercise that thus far has progressed little in understanding the brain in spite of the fantastic neuroscientific evidence of the last century.

My goodness, do you even know how to make a valid argument? This sounds less like a chain of logical reasoning, and more like a sermon.


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