X-Message-Number: 25337
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 17:02:47 -0800
Subject: Re: QE problems, to Robert
From: <>

Dear Robert:

You wrote:

"I have postulated that the experiencer and the experience are the  

same--perhaps some kind of modulated standing wave in the brain, 
with extension in space and time, so there is physical overlap or 
continuity between  predecessors and successors, tending to lend 
validity to at least partial  identification of earlier and later 
selves. (This is admittedly pretty vague,  but perhaps not empty.)"

Well, consider this: a standing wave is something that happens to a 
system, not something that exists.  But 'experiencer' is a noun and 
therefore should be taken to represent something that exists, while 
'experience' is an action and therefore should be taken to 
represent something that happens. This is why I think it is best to 
associate the system with the experiencer, and the experience with 
the change of that system---it leads to more consistent and better 
use of the English language, as well as clarity regarding survival 

You wrote: 

"RBR says the 'qualia experiencer' (QE) is material in the brain, 
and the qualia themselves are what happen to the QE, or  sequences 
of changes in  the QE. I think this is not just a difference of 
language, and that RBR's  formulation is questionable, as follows."

Well, I do not think they are precisely equivalent. I think, your 
criteria is implied by mine, but not conversely. But, I think they 
are quite close, and therefore lead to similar conclusions.

You wrote: 

"By analogy, one might liken the QE to a car, and a quale to the 
motion of a  car, the car and its motion together being a traveling 
car, the QE and the quale together the experiencer having the 
experience. Without the motion, the car is only a potential 
traveler, and without the car there is nothing that can travel. 
Sounds all right so far."

Yes, this is an easy-to-understand parallel, with one fault I will 
note below.


You wrote: 

"By RBR's reckoning, as I read him, if there is an interruption in  
the integrity of the QE--even minor damage, if it is sufficient to  
cause loss of ability to function--then that counts as destruction 
of the QE  and permanent death of the person, future repair 
counting as construction  of a new person and not survival or 
resurrection of the old. "

Yes, but I would not say this is 'minor damage'. The brain can 
sustain tremendous injury, with bullets ripping through the skull, 
vast sections removed, damage from lack of oxygen, great damage 
from Alzheimer's and human equivalents of Mad Cow, and yet, the 
person can still experience (even with no memories, in the case of 
advanced Alzheimer's). The brain is not like a car, which has no 
redundancy in most components, such that the failure of one 
destroys the car.

I imagine that even a highly damage brain would be capable of some 
base experience, even if that experience would not be on the level 
with what we experience when we are in top shape.

You wrote:

"I emphasize again that we just don't know enough yet about 
biology, matter, space, or time to draw any definitive conclusions; 
but I think my formulation is  less vulnerable. So I am a tentative 
advocate of the quantitative view including  overlap or physical 
continuity, with no distinction between the experiencer and  the 
experience. You can even have 'survival' after 'death' by (say) 
having  a brief and minor interruption of functionality, with at 
least some degree of  overlap between the pre-damage and post-
repair states. "

Consider what a brain would look like that can no longer 

You say even frozen brains have exhibited some neuronal activity 
post-thawing. Does this correlate with some primitive, altered 
experience? Possible, we would need to know more about the 
correlates before saying for sure. But I think if you contemplate 
the possibilities, you may find your 'sufficient overlap' criteria 
is the same as my definition, or at least very close.

Best Regards,

Richard B. R.

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