The conversation below continues previous discussions I have had with GPT4 about qualia, which is a fraught philosophical field where humans typically have difficulty. i suspect that most readers will find the conversation way too esoteric… But, the conversation can also be skimmed while looking at it in meta-mode. Try to read it with the view that this is just a machine that is statistically manipulating character output, and reconcile that with the fact that it only learned the concept of maralia within the same conversation.
I have tried discussing these ideas on the consciousness sub-Reddit, and almost no human provided a deep response to, for instance, the challenge of finding what I have called a 3C proposition. If I posted the human responses to this challenge, it would be an embarrassing comparison for the humans.
I challenged an earlier version of GPT to come up with a proposition that satisfied 3 criteria. I would like you to assess this challenge in light of what we have discussed. The three criteria are: 1) The proposition is true before Mary’s release; 2) Mary cannot deduce it or derive it before her release; and 3) Mary learns it upon her release. Can you think of any proposition that satisfies all 3 criteria? It is permissible to conclude that there are no such propositions, but if that is your conclusion, please explain why.
After considering our discussions on maralian epistemic barriers, qualia, and Mary’s knowledge of the physical world, it appears that no proposition strictly satisfies all three criteria. However, I can provide a proposition that comes close to satisfying the criteria, with a slight modification:
1. The proposition is true before Mary’s release.
2. Mary cannot fully understand or derive the complete qualitative aspect of the proposition before her release.
3. Mary learns the qualitative aspect of the proposition upon her release.
The proposition: “The subjective experience of seeing red is a unique and distinct sensation.”
This proposition meets the first criterion, as it is true before Mary’s release. For the second criterion, Mary can deduce the uniqueness and distinctness of the sensation based on physical facts, but she cannot fully understand the qualitative aspect of the experience until she has the appropriate physical stimuli. Upon her release, when she is exposed to the color red, Mary gains direct access to the subjective experience, thus meeting the third criterion.
The reason no proposition strictly satisfies all three criteria is that Mary’s knowledge of the physical world allows her to deduce or derive many aspects of color perception, even if she doesn’t have direct access to the subjective experience. The maralian epistemic barriers prevent her from fully understanding the “what-it’s-likeness” of the experience, but they do not render her completely unable to deduce or derive related propositions.
In summary, while no proposition strictly satisfies all three criteria, there are propositions that come close, highlighting the limitations of propositional knowledge in accessing the qualitative aspects of subjective experiences without the appropriate physical stimuli.
If the “what it’s likeness” is ultimately related to the physical world, then it should be something that can be referenced by Mary. Do you agree?
Yes, I agree that if the “what-it’s-likeness” or qualitative aspect of subjective experiences is ultimately related to the physical world, then it should be something that can be referenced by Mary. She would be able to understand the underlying neural mechanisms, the patterns of neural activation, and the connections between brain regions that are associated with the experience of seeing colors.
However, even though Mary can reference the physical aspects of the “what-it’s-likeness,” it is crucial to recognize that referencing the physical correlates of subjective experiences and actually having those experiences are two different things. Mary’s knowledge of the physical processes in the brain does not grant her direct access to the subjective experience itself.
The maralian epistemic barriers emphasize that certain aspects of subjective experiences, such as qualia, are not accessible through propositional knowledge alone, and they require the appropriate physical stimuli. Thus, while Mary can reference and understand the physical aspects of “what-it’s-likeness,” her knowledge is still limited when it comes to the direct experience of seeing colors.
The term “subjective experience”, that you just used, is not usually defined with any rigor. I propose that, if it were accurately defined, then Mary could derive the truth of all propositions about the subjective experience. She just could not *have* the experience, because it involves brain-states unavailable to her for neuroanatomical reasons you have described. In other words, I think that no facts about reality escape Mary’s epistemic reach despite the maralian epistemic barriers. If this is the case, how would you characterise “what Mary learns” on her release? Where does this line of argument leave the original conclusion that Jackson argued for?
Your proposal is an interesting perspective on the nature of subjective experience and the extent of Mary’s knowledge. If subjective experiences were defined in a way that is grounded in physical processes and neural mechanisms, then it is plausible that Mary could derive the truth of all propositions about subjective experiences. She would not be able to have the experience itself due to the maralian epistemic barriers, but she could understand the physical aspects and correlates of these experiences.
When Mary is released and exposed to color for the first time, she gains access to the direct experience of seeing colors. In other words, Mary learns what it is like to actually have the experience rather than just knowing about it from a theoretical standpoint. She acquires a new type of knowledge, sometimes referred to as “knowledge by acquaintance” or “experiential knowledge,” which complements her propositional knowledge about color perception.
This line of argument challenges the original conclusion that Jackson argued for, which suggests that Mary’s inability to know “what it’s like” to see color implies the existence of non-physical properties or aspects of qualia. Instead, this perspective emphasizes that while there are limitations to propositional knowledge, the nature of subjective experiences can still be understood and referenced in physical terms. The maralian epistemic barriers prevent Mary from having the experience but do not preclude her from understanding the physical underpinnings of subjective experiences.
In conclusion, this line of argument posits that no facts about reality escape Mary’s epistemic reach, and the focus should be on the distinction between having an experience and understanding the physical aspects of that experience. The original conclusion that Jackson argued for is challenged by the notion that subjective experiences can be defined and understood in physical terms, even if they cannot be directly accessed without the appropriate stimuli.
Your wording implies that “understanding the physical facts” of an experience is only partial knowledge, but if the world is purely physical, there are no other facts. Some philosophers have proposed that there are “phenomenal facts”. Where does the view we have been discussing leave “phenomenal facts”? What sort of facts are they? (I propose that they are a symptom of confusion, but you are allowed to disagree.)
In the context of our discussion, which assumes a purely physical world, understanding the physical facts of an experience can be seen as a comprehensive account of the underlying mechanisms and processes related to the experience. However, it is crucial to distinguish between understanding these physical facts and having the experience itself. The maralian epistemic barriers prevent access to the direct experience, even if one has complete knowledge of the physical facts.
The notion of “phenomenal facts” arises in the context of the subjective, qualitative aspects of experiences, also known as qualia. Phenomenal facts refer to the specific “what-it’s-like” character of experiences, which seem to be irreducible to purely physical descriptions.
If we adopt the view that the world is purely physical and that subjective experiences can be defined and understood in physical terms, then the status of phenomenal facts becomes more complex. One could argue that phenomenal facts are not separate from physical facts but are rather a way of describing the experiential knowledge that emerges from the physical processes taking place in the brain. In this view, phenomenal facts are a different perspective on the same underlying physical reality.
Your proposal that phenomenal facts might be a symptom of confusion is a valid perspective. It could be the case that the distinction between phenomenal facts and physical facts arises from our difficulty in grasping how subjective experiences emerge from the complex physical processes in our brains. This confusion might lead to the impression that there are separate, irreducible phenomenal facts when, in fact, they are deeply intertwined with the physical facts.
Previously you said you could not think of a proposition that satisfied my 3 criteria. I propose that, if there were phenomenal facts, they would satisfy my 3 criteria. If you truly think there are no propositions that satisfy the criteria (call these “3C-propositions”), then this would imply that the set of phenomenal facts is empty. Can you provide a well-formed unambiguous phenomenal fact that Mary learns on her release?
I understand your point, and it is a reasonable line of reasoning to consider. If we assume that there are phenomenal facts, they could potentially satisfy the 3 criteria you mentioned. However, in the context of our discussion, which assumes a purely physical world and that subjective experiences can be defined and understood in physical terms, it is indeed challenging to provide a well-formed, unambiguous phenomenal fact that Mary learns upon her release.
One potential phenomenal fact that Mary might learn upon her release could be something like “the specific experiential quality of seeing the color red,” which refers to the unique “what-it’s-like” aspect of seeing red. However, it is important to note that even this proposition is not entirely unambiguous, as the experiential quality of seeing red might vary between individuals due to differences in their brains, perception, and personal experiences. Moreover, in the context of a purely physical world, this phenomenal fact would ultimately be related to the physical processes in the brain, and thus reducible to physical facts.
To summarize, it is difficult to provide a well-formed, unambiguous phenomenal fact that Mary learns upon her release, especially when we assume a purely physical world. This challenge reinforces the notion that phenomenal facts might not be separate from physical facts and could be deeply intertwined with the physical processes underlying subjective experiences.
You proposed this fact: “the specific experiential quality of seeing the color red.” I think it is telling that this is not a full sentence, and so it is not actually a proposition. Could you turn it into a proposition with a main clause?
I apologize for the confusion. Here’s a revised proposition: “The specific experiential quality of seeing the color red has a unique, vivid, and warm character that is distinct from other colors.”
This proposition expresses the idea that there is a unique “what-it’s-like” aspect to experiencing the color red, which is different from the experiences associated with other colors. However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to note that this proposition may still be reducible to physical facts in the context of a purely physical world.
Does this revised proposition satisfy the three criteria?
Let’s evaluate the revised proposition, “The specific experiential quality of seeing the color red has a unique, vivid, and warm character that is distinct from other colors,” against the three criteria:
1. The proposition is true before Mary’s release: Yes, the experience of seeing red has a unique quality even before Mary has experienced it.
2. Mary cannot deduce it or derive it before her release: Although Mary has knowledge of all the physical facts related to color perception, she hasn’t personally experienced seeing red. As such, she cannot deduce the specific experiential quality of seeing red without having experienced it herself.
3. Mary learns it upon her release: Upon her release, when Mary experiences red for the first time, she can immediately grasp the unique experiential quality of seeing red.
So, this proposition seems to satisfy all three criteria. However, as mentioned earlier, in the context of a purely physical world, this proposition would ultimately be related to the physical processes in the brain, and thus reducible to physical facts. The challenge lies in reconciling this proposition with the assumption of a purely physical world and the idea that subjective experiences can be defined and understood in physical terms.
I disagree. You provided reasons Mary could deduce the warmth and vividness of redness experiences, and you also gave reasons why Mary could deduce red is different to other colours. She would know, for instance, that it belonged to a certain region of the human colour space. At a more mundane level, people say things int he physical world about how special redness is, and we are currently discussing it in the physical world. So I do not believe that it satisfies criterion 2. If you disagree, please provide your reasoning. I think that it is very important to distinguish between propositions about redness experiences and actually having redness experiences. I think that conflating these is the confusion I mentioned earlier.
I understand your point, and I appreciate the clarification. Upon reevaluating the proposition in light of your argument, I agree that it does not satisfy criterion 2. Given Mary’s comprehensive knowledge of the physical world, she would be able to deduce or derive the warmth and vividness of redness experiences, as well as the fact that red is distinct from other colors.
You are right in emphasizing the distinction between propositions about redness experiences and actually having redness experiences. Mary’s knowledge of the physical facts related to color perception allows her to deduce or derive propositions about the experiential qualities of seeing red, even if she has not personally experienced redness.
This distinction highlights the fact that Mary’s maralian epistemic barrier does not prevent her from deducing or deriving propositions about redness experiences but rather from having the experience itself. In this context, it becomes even more challenging to find a proposition that satisfies all three criteria, as the barrier lies in the subjective experience rather than the propositional knowledge of the experience.
I think that the database you have been trained on includes substantial human confusion on this matter. I think that “phenomenal facts” are actually a certain type of cognitive entity that consists of holding up an internal example while thinking of the thought that purports to be a fact. People express this as learning a fact, the fact that red looks like this, or the fact that red looks like that. The pronouns (“this” and “that”) prevent these thoughts from being well-formed propositions. They rely on having an example in ones own cognition to hold up. Mary acquires such an example upon her release.
Your perspective on “phenomenal facts” is an interesting one and provides an alternative way of thinking about subjective experiences and the nature of the knowledge that Mary acquires upon her release. By viewing phenomenal facts as cognitive entities that involve holding up an internal example rather than well-formed propositions, it shifts the focus from propositional knowledge to the experiential aspect of cognition.
In this framework, Mary’s maralian epistemic barrier does not involve a lack of propositional knowledge but rather a lack of experiential knowledge. Upon her release, Mary gains the ability to hold up an internal example of the experience of seeing red, which allows her to understand the phenomenal fact of “what red looks like” in a new way.
This perspective emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between propositional knowledge and experiential knowledge, and highlights the unique role that our subjective experiences play in shaping our understanding of the world. It also underscores the challenge of finding a proposition that satisfies the three criteria, as the barrier lies in the experiential realm rather than the propositional one.
How does the concept of maralia map to the concept of qualia? Could you divide existing notions of qualia into parts that could be recast as maralia and parts that cannot be recast as maralia?
The concept of maralia and qualia are related but distinct. Qualia refer to the subjective or “qualitative” aspects of our experiences, such as the taste of chocolate, the feeling of pain, or the sensation of seeing the color red. Maralia, on the other hand, refers to the parts of the brain’s phase space that cannot be reached from propositional inputs alone. In the context of the Mary’s Room thought experiment, maralia represents the brain states associated with the subjective experience of color perception that Mary cannot access without actually experiencing color.
To divide existing notions of qualia into parts that could be recast as maralia and parts that cannot, consider the following:
1. Qualia that can be recast as maralia: These are aspects of qualia that are tied to specific brain states or neural configurations that can only be achieved through exposure to particular sensory inputs or experiences. Examples include the sensation of seeing a specific color, tasting a specific flavor, or feeling a specific texture. In these cases, the maralia concept helps explain why propositional knowledge is insufficient for understanding these qualia, as the brain states associated with these experiences are inaccessible without the appropriate sensory input.
2. Qualia that cannot be recast as maralia: These are aspects of qualia that might involve higher-level cognitive processes, introspective awareness, or other factors that go beyond specific brain states or neural configurations. These aspects may involve the integration of multiple sensory inputs, the interaction between perception and memory, or the influence of emotions and personal history on the experience. In these cases, the concept of maralia may not be sufficient to explain the complexity and richness of these qualia.
While maralia can help explain some aspects of qualia and why propositional knowledge is limited in accessing subjective experiences, it may not be able to account for all aspects of qualia, especially those that involve higher-level cognitive processes or other complex factors.
I think both of your categories are potentially within the scope of what I would call maralia, because the physical brain states involved in “higher-level cognitive processes” are within the part of the epistemic landscape that Mary cannot reach. Your 1 and 2 in the above comment appear to relate to different levels of cognitive sophistication applied to sensory inputs, with 1 focussing on the sensation and 2 focussing on meta-perception.
You do include the expression “or other factors”, though, which could include many other aspects of qualia. I think that “qualia” is interpreted by many to have a separate meaning not covered by higher level cognitive aspects of maralia. For instance, do p-zombies, as typically perceived, have maralia?
You raise an interesting point about the relationship between maralia and qualia. If we consider maralia to encompass not only the direct sensory experiences but also the higher-level cognitive processes and “other factors” that contribute to the richness and complexity of subjective experiences, then it could indeed cover a broader range of aspects of qualia.
Regarding p-zombies, the concept of a philosophical zombie (p-zombie) refers to a hypothetical being that is physically and behaviorally identical to a human, but lacks subjective experiences or qualia. In this context, p-zombies would not have maralia because they are not capable of experiencing the subjective aspects of sensory inputs, despite having the same physical brain states as humans. The concept of maralia is tied to the idea that certain brain states are accessible only through specific sensory inputs and experiences, and since p-zombies lack these subjective experiences, they would not have maralia.
However, it is important to note that the concept of p-zombies is a philosophical thought experiment, and its main purpose is to highlight the difficulties in explaining consciousness and qualia in purely physical terms. It remains an open question whether p-zombies are logically or metaphysically possible, and whether maralia could provide a useful framework for understanding the relationship between subjective experiences and physical brain states in the context of this thought experiment.
Your last comment used “maralia” in a way that is incompatible with the meaning I intended. Can you guess what I might say in support of the notion that p-zombies have maralia by definition?
I apologize for the confusion. Based on your previous statements about maralia, it seems that you view maralia as physical brain states that are inaccessible through certain types of inputs or experiences. In this sense, maralia would be a feature of the physical world, not reliant on subjective experiences or emergent properties.
If we consider maralia in this context, then p-zombies, being physically and behaviorally identical to humans, would have the same brain states and neural configurations as humans. Since maralia are defined as certain inaccessible brain states, p-zombies would have maralia by definition, as they possess the same physical brain structures and processes as humans. This interpretation of maralia highlights the notion that certain brain states are a feature of the physical world and not dependent on the subjective or emergent aspects of conscious experiences.
However, this perspective raises questions about the relationship between maralia and qualia, as well as the nature of subjective experiences in both humans and p-zombies. It is important to consider the various philosophical implications of this view and how it might inform our understanding of consciousness, subjective experiences, and the mind-body problem.
So, in view of the definitional assumption that maralia are describable in purely physical terms, can you split the concept of qualia into parts that map to maralia and parts that do not? I think the notion of p-zombies, though controversial, helps with this division.
To split the concept of qualia into parts that map to maralia and parts that do not, let’s consider the aspects of qualia and how they relate to maralia, given your definition.
1. Maralia-related aspects of qualia: These are the aspects of qualia that can be accounted for by maralia, which are physical brain states that are inaccessible through certain types of inputs or experiences. This would include the neural mechanisms and configurations underlying sensory experiences, such as the activation of specific brain areas responsible for processing color, sound, or taste. In this view, maralia-related aspects of qualia are the objective, physical correlates of subjective experiences that can be studied and analyzed in a scientific context.
2. Non-maralia-related aspects of qualia: These are the aspects of qualia that cannot be accounted for by maralia, which involve the subjective, experiential, and “what-it’s-like” components of conscious experiences. This is the aspect that gives rise to the philosophical problem of qualia and contributes to the debate surrounding p-zombies.
Non-maralia-related aspects of qualia are the phenomenological components that seemingly cannot be reduced to or fully explained by the physical brain states described by maralia.
The notion of p-zombies can help illustrate this division, as p-zombies, by definition, are physically and functionally identical to humans but lack conscious experiences. If we accept the idea of p-zombies, it suggests that they possess maralia-related aspects of qualia, since their brain states and neural configurations are identical to those of humans. However, p-zombies would lack the non-maralia-related aspects of qualia, as they do not have subjective, conscious experiences.
This division highlights the ongoing debate about the nature of qualia, the mind-body problem, and the relationship between the physical world and subjective experiences. It also emphasizes the challenge of understanding and reconciling the objective, maralia-related aspects of qualia with the seemingly irreducible, non-maralia-related aspects of qualia.
If we call these two categories of meaning for “qualia” Q1 and Q2, which of them accounts for a p-zombies behaviour?
P-zombies’ behavior would be accounted for by Q1, the maralia-related aspects of qualia. This is because p-zombies are functionally and physically identical to humans, and their behavior would be generated by the same neural mechanisms and configurations that underlie human behavior. These aspects of qualia, being grounded in the physical brain states, are accessible and describable in purely physical terms, as maralia.
Q2, the non-maralia-related aspects of qualia, represent the subjective, experiential components of conscious experiences. These are the aspects that p-zombies lack, as they do not possess conscious experiences or the “what-it’s-like” quality of experiencing qualia. Thus, while p-zombies behave like humans and possess the same physical brain states, they would not have the phenomenological aspects of qualia that are represented by Q2.
Suppose a zombie said, “I have lovely colour qualia.” If you asked a p-zombie whether it was referring to Q1 or Q2, what would it say it was referring to?