X-Message-Number: 7914
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 15:22:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: clarification

Implicit in my earlier post today was my assumption that, in the
Strout/Chalmers thought experiment, the seat of visual qualia is NOT in the
visual cortex. However, Strout/Chalmers may have assumed that the seat of
visual qualia IS in the visual cortex.

In that latter case, we have the same old "black box" or "Turing Test"
experiment, which proves essentially nothing. By way of analogy, we could
imagine that a red apple is shown (a) to a photospectrometer/computer and (b)
to a person. Both might respond "red"--or, if the computer is wrongly
programmed, and the person is color-blind, both might respond "green." From
this we learn nothing about whether one or the other has a subjective
experience or is alive. 

In any case, the basic point of my earlier post stands. In its main feature,
a quale is not an intermediary or switching post or a representation of
anything; it is an end in itself and not (primarily) just a means to an end.
The essential feature of a quale is not an input or an output; it is a
physical condition or event that CONSTITUTES a subjective experience.  And as
frequently previously noted, subjective experience is the primary
characteristic of life as we know it.

Robert Ettinger

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