Gilles Kuhn: well I invite all to sit lie whatever apply and we shall begin
Gilles Kuhn: so last time we have begun a discussion about Pema/Piet paper
Pema Pera: Hi everybody, and welcome to the Kira Cafe! Note that we record our sessions, and that by being here for the next hour, you give us permission to put our chat log up on our Kira web site [[1]]
Gilles Kuhn: (and too in the Google group of the philosophical seminar)
Gilles Kuhn: so the conversation last time was focusing on the notion of sense or of X as a kind of primitive like space ad time
Gilles Kuhn: this notion seems very close to panpsychism but remain at my opinion a little fuzzy do you wish to elaborate a little Pema?
Pema Pera: In general, if we have a problem solving something in science, and we can't solve it after a long time, it may be that our underlying ideas are wrong, that the real problem lies deeper
Pema Pera: and our suggestion was that the real problem in the so-called "hard problem of consciousness"
Pema Pera: namely that of qualia, the question why information processing in the brain corresponds to first-person consciousness
Pema Pera: may be an indication that there is something underlying consciousness, a kind of "field" or more generally a kind of "condition of possibility" where we used time as an example of the condition of possibility for motion
Pema Pera: There motion is very concrete and something you can observe while time as such cannot be observed similarly distances between objects can be observed
Pema Pera: but space as such cannot YET: we talk about space and time
Pema Pera: all the time (no pun intended) and use it everyday AS IF they were the most concrete things
Pema Pera: So: our proposal: let us try to talk in the same way about "sense" or "X" as if it were really concrete and helpful in the same way even though unobservable in the same way
Pema Pera: -- does that help?
Gilles Kuhn: well but space and time are notion that integrated in scientific models are very useful in order to make working theories and technical achievement and acquired their privileged status in science thanks to that
Gilles Kuhn: the notion of sense that you propose how to integrate it in a working model or theory?
Pema Pera: oh, yes, so we have to find ways to work out "sense" as well . . . it took a few centuries to work out dynamics, using time, so this will take some time too -- if it can work at all
Mary Hinchcliffe: I have a question to Pema… what do you mean by "solving" a problem in science
Pema Pera: we would have to start on the level of Galileo or earlier, with very simple experiments
Pema Pera: "making progress" in mean, Mary not a "final solution"
Mary Hinchcliffe: thanks
Gilles Kuhn: but there are already a lot of experiment and empirical data about conscious experience do we need other methodologies to test your sense paradigm?
Latha Serevi: What might a simple experiment look like, I wonder, that would illustrate a feature of the sense dimension?
Eddy Grunstein: Pema, are you restricting "sense" to some conscious state regarding one's surroundings?
Pema Pera: the problem is that all experiments so far are defined in terms of third-person descriptions
Mickorod Renard: I think the phenomenology experiments are a good start Pema
Sage Hartmann: Latha, I think his analogy to time is a good one here. In practice, we always measure time by measuring space -- but we don't really worry about whether time 'exists' -- it's kinda a given
Sage Hartmann: Do you have any ideas or opinions on what kind of logical or epistemological structures would be appropriate for such a task, Pema? You hinted at mutual orthogonality; does your intuition offer any other clues as to how you'd go about constructing a model?
Pema Pera: in order to make real progress with the hard problem, we need to move on to a different way to even formulate first-person descriptions . . . .
Mary Hinchcliffe: if I can propose a simple example it's the possibility to test if a child is affected by surdity but in fact it's a third person
Gilles Kuhn: the problem to see if your baby is deaf
Fefonz Quan: sounds like a simple experiment, or isn't it?
Mickorod Renard: are the phenomenology experiments part of this overall exploration Pema?
Pema Pera: (sorry, trying to take in all the suggestions made)
Gilles Kuhn: well I think that’s quite easy but the idea indeed reflect the problem of assessing qualia as experimental data
Pema Pera: phenomenology is a stage in any new approach in science: Galileo and Kepler started with phenomenology, studying the phenomena, before Newton could formulate his laws
Pema Pera: Einstein similarly
Pema Pera: Maxwell could do his work based on the phenomenology that had been accumulated separately for electricity and magnetism
Mary Hinchcliffe: it's a peculiar definition of phenomenology quite heterodox
Gilles Kuhn: well normally we qualify that as empiricism not pheno in the Husserlian way
Pema Pera: empiricism is a very general world, checking your insight using experiments
Sage Hartmann: I would think any such model would have to have a reflexive self-referential structure of some sort? When senses are included in the model, they become both the source and the target of the observation.
Pema Pera: phenomenology means to describe what is happening with as little prejudice as possible
Pema Pera: good questions, Sage!
Pema Pera: we'll have to try and see
Gilles Kuhn: yes our eternal debate about the époché range
Pema Pera: you see, Einstein dropped absolute space and time as not-necessary ingredients, a kind of prejudice -- now THAT is phenomenology
Sage Hartmann: nods
Pema Pera: leaving out what we tend to put in, after careful observations tell us that it is not directly
Gilles Kuhn: well I will qualify that as paradigm shift
Pema Pera: the result is a paradigm shift
Pema Pera: you start with phenomenology, you don't start to just "shift" some paradigm
Gilles Kuhn: you start with reflection
Pema Pera: yes
Pema Pera: but what kind of reflection?
Gilles Kuhn: radical one
Pema Pera: re-evaluations of what is really given and what we have added on
Gilles Kuhn: just take all in doubt and start from scratch like Descartes did
Archivist Llewellyn: How does your idea of reflection differ from Leibnitz?
Pema Pera: which is phenomenology
Sage Hartmann: very well said, pema. But that's only half, no? Seeing our prejudices is a good start to seeing past them, but even with a phenomenological approach, a myriad phenomenal clues are usually needed to put together anything coherent or useful imo
Pema Pera: Of couse to some extent all philosophers try to do a kind of phenomenology -- including
Descartes and Leibnitz -- the difference comes in when they deviate, and add things (like God in
Descartes' case)
Pema Pera: oh yes, Sage, sure!
Gilles Kuhn: well that’s a terminology problem i have np with the start of this method but without
experimental testing and result it give nothing Einstein theory was experimentally tested and passed
jolly good
Pema Pera: oh yes, but it took a few hundred years to find the limits of absolute space and time
Pema Pera: also, from Galilei to Newton took almost a century
Mary Hinchcliffe: so wait and see
Sage Hartmann: do you have any specific phenomenological clues you're playing with that you might be willing to share, that might assist in this task?
Pema Pera: and Galilei had forerunners, a few centuries before him
Gilles Kuhn: but about sense how to test it? because even Galileo dynamic had immediate result
Mickorod Renard: so in this case,,sense or X have there been any inroads that can be explored?
Pema Pera: sure, Sage, if you come to the Friday 2 pm SLT phenomenology workshop, we're doing just that there :)
Sage Hartmann: ahh ok =)
Gilles Kuhn: erhm
Gilles Kuhn: I still wait for a result from that pema... :-)
Mickorod Renard: ok, I sort of thought i was doing some
Pema Pera: you want to have results in much less than a century, Gilles -- how about a year?
Gilles Kuhn: I don’t think that I will last a century a year is nice
Pema Pera: yes, Mick, we're exploring that in our pheno group
Mickorod Renard: I wrote 2 reports tonight for the experiment
Gilles Kuhn: but exploring from a strict first person perspective is it sufficient because i think that that is what you do there in fact
Mickorod Renard: I find it fascinating
Pema Pera: each new step in physics, really new step, was a kind of subtraction down to bare bones -- like Galileo dropping balls and Einstein riding a light wave as a thought experiments, VERY VERY simple
Pema Pera: so we try to do some VERY VERY simple bare-bones experiments in our Friday workshops, to see what we can find
Gilles Kuhn: in physic yes but in biology?
Pema Pera: in biology too: the key ideas of Darwin are very very simple
Pema Pera: the key idea of DNA is also very simple
Pema Pera: life is digital, three words!
Sage Hartmann: pema, have you explored the phenomenology of insight, to this end?
Pema Pera: trying to, yes, Sage :)
Gilles Kuhn: is the cellular theory so simple? or the genetic foundation of neo synthetic evolution theory?
Gilles Kuhn: because I think we face a multidimensional very complex problem that unlike physic cannot be modelled in a reductive very simple way
Pema Pera: you see, we physicists are so proud of being engaged in a rational pursuit -- but the actual way we work is through intuition, very messy, wonderful, way outside rational pursuits!!!! "rational" comes only at the end, as a check, like a stop watch at a marathon. Running is not about time keeping . . . .
Pema Pera: not reductive, Gilles, at least not in the objective sense
Pema Pera: Husserl was trying to find a NEW can of reduction (he called his époché that way)
Pema Pera: Gilles, general relativity is very complex in working out its problems -- but the basic ideas are extraordinarily simple
Mickorod Renard: can you expand on that Pema? Husserl
Pema Pera: in biology everything is even more complex, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no simple underlying ideas
Pema Pera: expand on what, Mick?
Mickorod Renard: find the new can
Latha Serevi: I'm gonna open up a can o' REDUCTION on yo' ass, sucka.
Sage Hartmann: Pema, how about Kant's categories of thought -- have you considered them for structural clues? I believe they form a second-order monadic predicate calculus if I recall.
Pema Pera: (new can??)
Gilles Kuhn: yes Pema but you propose a ver… well but that’s my point GR very simple in his basic but biology I really don’t think so particularly when we look at the brain or too at our cognitive feelings (qualia ) and capacities
Mickorod Renard: the epoch
Pema Pera: Kant certainly gives many clues, and he made important progress, but I find Husserl far more useful, Sage -- of course, he came a century later
Pema Pera: ah, but consciousness is simple and unitary -- which is another hint that the brain may be a distraction, Gilles
Pema Pera: a clock can be very complicated -- but time is far simpler than a clock
Pema Pera: the brain may be to sense what a clock is to time
Latha Serevi: Pema's instinct is that consciousness is simple. Materialists handwave about it being complicated and emergent. Can we think of any good arguments one way or t'other?
Gilles Kuhn: you know that you advocate or seems to advocate a kind of substance dualism Pema?
Mary Hinchcliffe: but how can you make a synthesis between science that need stable result and époché which can't make a stable result?
Pema Pera: no dualism, Gilles, except as possibly an intermediate stage to sort things out
Pema Pera: no reason to think that époché cannot lead to equally stable results, Mary
Pema Pera: Latha, consciousness seems pretty simple, doesn't it, in the sense at least of being the only thing we have, come to think of it
Pema Pera: the background in which everything is given like space for material objects
Eddy Grunstein: Pema, are you trying to think of consciousness as being at the same (ontological) level as space and time?
Latha Serevi: "seems clear, simple direct" = one good argument for simple, I agree.
Pema Pera: consciousness for all that happens to us that we can be aware of
Mary Hinchcliffe: it's a difficulty in making phenomenology, it's Your I who make the reduction not mine or another so theirs is a diversity in the result about a same personal experience being in love for example
Pema Pera: not consciousness itself, Eddy, but the condition of possibility for consciousness, which I call "sense" or "X" to give it a label
Gilles Kuhn: yes it sees pretty simple because we experiment it on a permanent basis but it elude us in a scientific way because in fact it is horrifically complex an example in robotic its horrifically difficult to make a robot walk we can do that without even think of it
Eddy Grunstein: So we might find necessary conditions for consciousness? Are there such for space or time?
Pema Pera: yes, Mary, but we can try to find intersubjective ways to compare notes -- so-called objectivity in science is nothing more than intersubjectivity among very many subjects, the scientists doing science
Latha Serevi: Gilles, that's the materialist handwave, yes. :-) (which I subscribe to, by the way, by
Storm Nordwind thinks we have spent several millions of years learning to walk!
Pema Pera: ah, Gilles, robotics! I think robotics has failed so far exactly because of using third-person methodology -- you need first-person!
Pema Pera: If I may add to that we could understand the way the heart worked, after building pumps
Fefonz Quan: (and even more to talk about it/contemplate, Storm)
Pema Pera: we could understand dolphins and bats after we constructed sonar
Gilles Kuhn: actually Storm it is not so difficult in a biological evolutive environment Darwinian law make wonder...
Pema Pera: so similarly we will only be able to build good robots after understanding what a "self" really is!
Fefonz Quan: (only if a robot need one - why should it?)
Pema Pera: Eddy, time is the condition of possibility for motion -- similarly sense for consciousness
Mary Hinchcliffe: im' not sure that intersubjectivity is the key for making science it'a quite a little bit more, a experimental protocol or sg else
Gilles Kuhn: to that I agree or we can use AI to try to understand us too, my personal criteria for a working consciousness theory would be the capacity t use it to make an artificial one
Sage Hartmann: is such a phenomenological model a prerequisite to AI pema, or vice versa?
Pema Pera: Fefonz, I meant: the very fact that we still can't build good robots may be an indication that we still don't know even the most basic language for thinking in first-person terms, after a few century of third-person science
Pema Pera: Mary, I meant that so-called objectivity of science is nothing more than inter-subjectivity
Pema Pera: not that that is all there is to it
Gilles Kuhn: to that i agree to a certain point but pema there is in this intersubjectivity a forced sensation when you have technical result
Pema Pera: yes, Sage, phenomenology of some kind, stripping down phenomena to their essence is some way, is the first step in any kind of science, or technology for that matter
Fefonz Quan: yes, but the fact that many inter-subject converge to some solid "average" do say something
Pema Pera: forced sensation, Gilles?
Pema Pera: absolutely, Fefonz!
Pema Pera: same in époché. Mary's remark about époché suggested that that was not the case
Sage Hartmann: might AI not emerge first, by accident, and the phenomenology not understood until much later?
Pema Pera: but I think a group of people studying first-person methods can surely find many agreements
Gilles Kuhn: yes technological machine can give you sensation that s their point ultimately (example (bad one ;-) a machinegun can give sensation to people that don’t believe in science like simbas warrior .... so forced yes)
Pema Pera: I don't think any scientific breakthrough occurred "by accident", Sage :-)
Pema Pera: it was always based on either direct experiments or thought experiments
Mary Hinchcliffe: ok, but my understanding of pheno is more strict, époché is a try to approach the ground of the possibility of the phenomenon
Latha Serevi: By accident - absolutely! "whoa, why did that just eat a hole in my table?"
Pema Pera: I see the époché as a laboratory tool like any other tool -- but using a different orientation/methodology, Mary
Pema Pera: Gilles, inevitability comes from detailed investigations
Gilles Kuhn: agreed and testing
Pema Pera: and technology can then apply the insight
Mary Hinchcliffe: a pragmatic approach of pheno quite a blasphemy for certain (not me) phenomenologist
Gilles Kuhn: re agreed
Pema Pera: if you REALLY realize that life can be like a dream, the effects may not be so different from being hit on the head by a material tool . . . or even your machine gun
Mary Hinchcliffe: like Descartes in meditation
Pema Pera: well, blasphemy was part of every new breakthrough, Mary :-)
Gilles Kuhn: well Pema people in manic state often describe their experience like that they have the feeling to be in a dream or to see a cinema movie when they are in wake state result are not always nice....
Mickorod Renard: are you very optimistic that a breakthrough may be forthcoming soon pema?
Pema Pera: yes, of course, Gilles, those people can also describe very odd material behavior -- so you need a group of peers to decide what is truly intersubjective and what not -- in physics and elsewhere
Pema Pera: oh, it is already unfolding Mick, but slowly, like every really important breakthrough. There are several cracks in the wall of pure objectivity as science has tried to use it for a few centuries
Gilles Kuhn: ah but there is the rub Pema then you fall in a kind of experimental psychology of sensation no?
Pema Pera: I don't want to fall into anything just yet, Gilles, the point of phenomenological exploration is to suspend judgment at first -- EXACTLY not to let yourself fall into a pregiven idea
Mary Hinchcliffe: correct
Gilles Kuhn: not pregiven but reproducing a old thing that’s the problem
Pema Pera: (Mick: quantum mechanics, brain studies, robotics: three places with cracks in the walls)
Mickorod Renard: yes
Pema Pera: so we have to strip that off Gilles
Mary Hinchcliffe: which cracks?
Mickorod Renard: back to basics
Pema Pera: the old thing for me is automatic attempts to describe everything in terms of objectivity -- old-style clock-work objectivity
Pema Pera: Mick was asking for the revolution, Mary, I said it is already occurring in those three fields
Pema Pera: quantum mechanics has overthrown strict objectivity
arabella Ella: objectivity is impossible as Nagel had pointed out so well in his view from nowhere and what is it like to be a bat
Pema Pera: brain research gives us the hard problem
Pema Pera: robotics shows us we don't really know what it is to be a subject, since we are still failing to make one
Pema Pera: indeed, arabella, it is an approximation, it is always only intersubjectivity
Gilles Kuhn: that’s true of even the so call "hard" science
Pema Pera: I think that robotics may teach us what Husserl tried to teach us -- and we'll be more likely to listen to robotics industry, worth trillions of dollars
arabella Ella: yes intersubjectivity and even then only from a particular specific perspective
arabella Ella: with cognitive limitations
Pema Pera: steam engine technology made us reflect on thermodynamics, and thus gave us the notion of entropy
Pema Pera: so yes, Arabella, we have to develop new ways of intersubjectivity
arabella Ella: could you tell us more Pema please about what you think robotics and perhaps AI could show us in your vision?
Gilles Kuhn: (latha stop to dig in the floor ;-) )
Pema Pera: steam engines -> entropy; perhaps robots -> new concept of "sense" or "X"
Gilles Kuhn: sense = fonctionalism?
Eddy Grunstein: Sorry that I'm not up to speed here, but I'm still puzzling over "sense or X" as the necessary condition for any conscious state. When we consider the case of "blindsight", we would seem to lack consciousness (regarding the object in the visual field), but not sense, as the body is able to respond appropriately to the object. Is that the same sense of 'sense' as being used here?
Pema Pera: blindsight is a fascinating case, yes
Pema Pera: but my notion of "X" ("sense" may be misleading already) goes far deeper/wider, as the general kind of "field" or background in which all that plays out
Pema Pera: like time for motion, time is not just any kind of motion, it's on a different level altogether
Pema Pera: "condition of possibility" means that
Eddy Grunstein: Are you expecting that X will turn out to be a certain configuration of active neurons?
Gilles Kuhn: yes but the old definition of time as the new one link it with a motion in space
Pema Pera: no time is not a certain configuration of gears in a clock. It is what allows clocks to be built
Pema Pera: yes, Gilles, I expect that eventually space, time, and sense will all be linked in a new kind of wider relativity
Gilles Kuhn: when you measure "time" you use always some kind of device moving in space
Pema Pera: you need space to measure time, and time to measure space, and you need sense to do either of those two too . . . .
Gilles Kuhn: (even atomic clock btw)
Fefonz Quan: (not sure for atomic clocks, Gilles)
Fefonz Quan: (got me)
Pema Pera: atoms need space to exist :)
Pema Pera: well, it is 3 pm . . . shall we stop here?
Gilles Kuhn: depends Pema are you booked for other things now?
Pema Pera: Thank you all for a fascinating discussion!!
Pema Pera: yes, I'll have to run soon
Mickorod Renard: thank you for a very interesting class
Pema Pera: my last day in Kyoto before returning, many loose ends to tie up
Gilles Kuhn: thank Pema and all other participants!
Eddy Grunstein: Thanks for the discussion; it was stimulating.
Mickorod Renard: thanks Gilles
Sage Hartmann: the phenomenology workshop is Friday at 2pm?
Pema Pera: yes and we have a wiki
Sage Hartmann: oh wonderful
Pema Pera: [|]
Gilles Kuhn: next week seminar will continue this discussion but i will propose a new text to enrich the discussion
arabella Ella: thanks Pema and thanks Gilles and apologies for arriving late today
Scathach Rhiadra: ty Pema and Gilles
Pema Pera: thank you all, and looking forward to seeing y'all again!
Fefonz Quan: Ty Pema and Gilles
Gilles Kuhn: you will find the new text tomorrow in the Google group "philosophical seminar"
Sage Hartmann: I need to go too - bye :)
Gilles Kuhn: and I invite all of you to come in the SL group and in the Google group. Just IM me for an invite
Mickorod Renard: thanks Gilles