X-Message-Number: 25236
Date: Mon,  6 Dec 2004 10:41:51 -0800
Subject: Corrections, to Robert
From: <>

Dear Robert:


"Once more, in my view, we do not live in a film-frame universe."

Absolutely. Physics does allow us to treat time as a spatial 
dimension, but this is a statement of our model, and in no way 
implies that time *is* a spatial dimension (let alone that it is 
quantized in the way the frames of a film are). It is clearly 
different than the other three dimensions, which would not be the 
case in the film-frame view.


You wrote:
"And again, there is in my view no distinction between the QE or 
'qualia experiencer' of RBR and the qualia themselves."

In my terminology, the QE is what exists, while the qualia are what 
happen to what exists. Qualia themselves, that is, the subjective 
sensations of my inner-life, do not exist---rather, they happen, in 
the same way that waving does not exist, but water does, and when 
waving happens to water, we say a wave 'exists'.

In your terminology, you would say, when (certain kinds) of change 
happen to the brain, a qualia experiencer 'exists'. This is simply 
an alternate definition of qualia experiencer. However, this qualia 
experiencer does indeed cease to exist when the subject loses 
consciousness, because while the brain still exists, the qualia do 

Indeed, over small enough time scales, your qualia experiencer does 
not exist, since experience is something that requires a relatively 
long amount of time in order to occur.

In my terminology, the qualia experiencer always exists, whether 
awake or asleep, because it is simply the physical thing in which 
changes of a certain kind correlate precisely with subjective 
experience. It exists even if the brain doesn't happen to be 
changing in the right way over a particular interval of time 
(whether on the microsecond scale, in the case of living brains, or 
the decade scale, in the case of frozen brains).

You wrote:

"An ocean wave consists of water undergoing a special type of 
movement; without the movement it would be inappropriate to say 
that what is left--just the water--is a wave or even potentially a 
wave. In other words, a wave is not something that happens to 
water; the combination of water and form IS the wave. If EITHER the 
water or the  form is lacking, there is no wave. "

And in the exact same way, there is no subjective 'I' when either 
the brain exists but does not change in the ways yielding 
subjective experience, or when the brain does not exist. So your 
definition is more of a 'subjective I' definition, while mine is an 
'objective I', whose purpose is to clearly delineate what exists 
from what happens.

Both can be useful.

You wrote: 

"Somewhat similarly, I surmise, the 'self circuit' is perhaps some 
kind of standing wave in the brain, and modulations of this wave 
constitute the qualia, and the qualia constitute the person or the 
essence of the person."

Or it could be that firing of certain neural circuits correlates 
with experience. Or the collapse of entangled states (in quantum 
models of consciousness). Many possibilities at this point in the 

You wrote:

"Even if true, this does not necessarily solve all the 
philosophical problems, but it does open up possibilities. Even if 
the brain is totally quiescent at liquid nitrogen temperature, with 
a presumed interruption of the self circuit, there is still a 
(possibly very large) overlap in time  between predecessor and 
successor configurations, allowing reasonable (partial) 
identification of prior and later selves."

Perhaps a way of phrasing survival that would be more compatible 
with you:

(1) 'I' am the changes that happen to this brain (in which case, I 
may stop happening, if this brain stops changing, but I may resume 
at a later date, if this brain existed to that date; but if the 
brain is destroyed, then I can no longer happen, because I am the 
changes that happen to *this* brain);

Or if you like,

(2) 'I' am the changes that happen to this brain, together with 
this brain (in which case, I am both part a happening and part an 
existing thing; and the part of me that happens may stop, but as 
long as the part of me that exists continues to exist, the part of 
me that happens may resume, and I have survived).

where of course 'changes' refers to the specific changes correlated 
with subjective experience (but certainly dependent on other 
changes not so correlated).

Your preferred form of expression seems to be the combo (2). I 
would prefer (1), since it is cleaner and easier to communicate.

Best Regards,

Richard B. R.

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