Lowering the bar for Mary

To respond to Enigman, yes, where anger ends and irritation begins is something I’m interested in for what-it’s-like in addition to seeing red. I didn’t spell out the intent of my last post. I wrote it a few hangovers ago, but I think my intent was to lower the bar for Mary. It might be the case that Mary intuitively fails because her brain is wired so precisely for color perception that there is no conceivable way to compensate for it through her other abilities. In other words, knowing red might be such a radically good knowledge the way we know red, that it appears to be irreducible when compared with other things that we know. Kind of like, Captain Picard apears so powerful to the natives that the cheif mistakenly makes an ontological distinction between Picard and his own people.

So yeah, red is the obvious example to use, to make physicalism appear intuitively silly. But I’d like to reverse the project. Let’s lower the bar drastically and find the minimal cases that constitute what-it’s-like and see if it makes sense if that could be reduced.

What my trick is supposed to be, and I may be up in the night on this, is that all matters of phenomenal consciousness should be equally irreducible in an intuitive way. And if it begins making sense that we could lower the bar and introduce cases where maybe it’s phenomenal or maybe it isn’t, then we’re already admitting defeat to physicalism.

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3 Responses to Lowering the bar for Mary

  1. AG says:

    keeping “what it’s like” in the realm of dualism, and keeping in mind that quale are one dimensional, it is, as David Chalmers explains, clearly our own introspection which establish phenomenal consciousness. Now, if something is non-physical, it’s non-physical. One non-physical, uh, thing, can’t be more non-physical than another. So, all matters of phenomenal consciousness are equally indubitable. Or at least they should be in theory. So my thinking, which I’m sure is confused somewhere, is that if it can be established that some aspect of phenomenal consciousness is less obviously phenomenal than the case of perceiving red, then that’s a substantial blow to dualism.
    For, how can two one dimensional entities known by pure raw introspection differ in the “magnitude” of their non-physicalness?

    So if it’s conceivable that some aspect of our consciousness isn’t clearly, without the slightest hesitation, phenomenal rather than psychological, then we should be very concerned about the existence of phenomenological consciousness period. At lest that’s what my thinking of the moment is telling me.

  2. AG says:

    Expanding my Picard analogy. Jean Luc Picard beams down to a tribal planet. The chief declares him to be non-human, a God. Something totally other than the tribale populace. The chief cites Picard’s use of a laser and his materializing from nothing as evidence against his explanability. But a less than orthodox priest notes that other wonders Picard performs hold a resemblence to things the tribal wise men can pull off. So it stands to reason, that if the wisemen could crack some of the more basic tricks of Picard’s then it becomes easier to imagine that his more difficult ones have a similar, though more complicated explanation.

  3. AG says:

    An intelligent design analogy. Similar to the Picard analogy, ID theorists look to perplexing biological systems, micro systems primarily today, as examples of why evolution must be wrong. Ok, they’ll compromise on some points, and say evolution did this part and that part, but this other part is too complex to explain. But for the evolutionist, the mere existence of clearly explanable systems, even if they are simple ones, gives a reasonable hope that the tougher ones are just more of the same.

    Likewise then, if there are conscious states that could be debated as to their status as phenomenal or psychological, than this would give support to reductioism or elimitivism.

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