2008.10.12 19:00 - Qualia

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    Rowan Masala was the guardian for this discussion, but had a number of technical problems and arrived late.  Thank you to Adelene Dawner for keeping the log until Rowan was able to get there. 

    PLEASE NOTE BEFORE DECIDING TO READ: This discussion contains explicit language and sexual discussion.  It was also great fun.


    Present at the beginning: Adelene, Albertus and Solobill.

    Adelene Dawner: Hullo, Albertus :)
    Albertus Urvilan: Good evening :)
    Albertus Urvilan: Are we escaping reality? or entering it?
    Adelene Dawner: Can reality be escaped or entered? Is there anything that is not reality?
    Albertus Urvilan: Is there anything that is real?
    Adelene Dawner: Good question. ^.^
    Albertus Urvilan: Feelings are real.
    Albertus Urvilan: Ephemeral
    Albertus Urvilan: yet real
    Adelene Dawner: I think the concept you're looking for is 'qualia' - the building blocks of experiences.
    Adelene Dawner: 'red' or 'middle c' or 'sharp' or 'minty' or 'sad' - directly experienced sensory things.
    Albertus Urvilan: Feelings are experienced in the senses, but the stimulus isn't always manifestly apparent
    Adelene Dawner: Is there a stimulus?
    Albertus Urvilan: Oh yes I believe so.

    Enter Stevenaia: 

    stevenaia Michinaga: hello
    Albertus Urvilan: We don't live in a vacuum.

    Albertus Urvilan: hello stevenaia

    Adelene Dawner: Can we know a stimulus by anything other than its qualia?
    Solobill Laville: :)
    stevenaia Michinaga: Rowan, tonight's guardian will be here shortly. Can someone send her the beginings of the log when she gets here?
    Adelene Dawner: sure
    Albertus Urvilan: Can memory be considered a qualia
    Adelene Dawner: not *a* qualia, but when you're experiencing a memory you're experiencing a *set* of qualia, yes.
    Adelene Dawner: (the singular form of the word is 'quale' by the way)
    Albertus Urvilan: "Recherce du Temps Perdus" -- the taste of the madelaine cake brings back a vivid flood of feelings from a past time.
    Albertus Urvilan: How I felt back then, how I experienced the world
    Adelene Dawner: mmhmm
    Albertus Urvilan: So the term was coined as a verb (dynamic form) of the word Quality, it seems
    Adelene Dawner: memories are made of qualia. It's rare to the point of being considered a special skill to be able to accurately remember a single quale without any context. Think perfect pitch.
    Albertus Urvilan: How all this "is" to us ... the "quality" of it
    Albertus Urvilan: =quale
    Adelene Dawner: Probably. I don't know the etimology.
    Albertus Urvilan: If the term was coined out of necessity, there being no other word to describe? Or is it of older origin
    Albertus Urvilan runs to google

    Rowan finally resolves technical difficulties and arrives:

    Adelene Dawner: Hi, Rowan
    Albertus Urvilan: Apologies for the cut and paste to follow
    Albertus Urvilan: "Qualia" is "an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us". They can be defined as qualities or sensations, like redness or pain, as considered independently of their effects on behavior and from whatever physical circumstances give rise to them. In more philosophical terms, qualia are properties of sensory experiences. The importance of qualia in philosophy of mind comes largely from the fact that they are often seen as posing a fundamental problem for physicalism. Much of the debate over their existence, however, hinges on the debate over the precise definition of the term, as various philosophers emphasize or deny the existence of certain properties. The word "qualia" comes from Latin, meaning "what sort" or "what kind." The Latin and English singular is "quale" Believers in qualia are known as qualophiles; non-believers as qualophobes.
    Rowan Masala: Hi all
    Rowan Masala: so very sorry
    Adelene Dawner: no worries, Ro.
    Adelene Dawner: let me make you a notecard, one sec
    stevenaia Michinaga: Now I know what I look like when I land on someone
    Solobill Laville thinks he doesn't believe in qualia, but isn't quite "afraid" of them as qualophobe would suggest ;)
    Albertus Urvilan: At any rate, it seems include not just physical, but emotional/perceptual information not coming through our physical tactile input.
    Albertus Urvilan: ...certain features of the bodily sensations especially, but also of certain perceptual experiences, which no amount of purely physical information includes"
    Adelene Dawner: Say more, Solo?
    Solobill Laville: Is qualia a philosophical term?
    Albertus Urvilan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia
    Solobill Laville: ah, ty, Al!
    Solobill Laville runs to wikipedia :)
    Adelene Dawner: I actually came to know of it by way of discussing neuroscience with Three... they're involved in one of the deeper mysteries of neuroscience if nothing else.
    Albertus Urvilan: Basically we started out with me asking if we were escaping reality by coming here, or entering reality ;)
    Rowan Masala smiles
    Adelene Dawner laughs. "I missed the 'by coming here' part of that..."
    Solobill Laville: Ooh, I like that Al
    Solobill Laville admits to some escapism by coming to SL...
    Rowan Masala: huge escapism for me
    Rowan Masala: but not altogether unhealthy, I think
    Solobill Laville nods and smiles
    Albertus Urvilan: Of course, by interacting with our computers, and with each other by computer, we are still always experiencing the dynamic flow which can be referred to as "qualia"
    Adelene Dawner: If you're limiting 'reality' to 'the mundane world', yeah, sure - but reality isn't limited in that way, by definition, really.
    stevenaia Michinaga: so this is not reality?...hmmm
    Albertus Urvilan: It seems some people deny the existence of qualia because they are experienced by an individual and not quantifiable. The technical term for such doubters is ...
    Albertus Urvilan: "asshole"
    Adelene Dawner: depends on how you're defining reality, Steve.
    Adelene Dawner laughs at Al's comment. ^.^
    stevenaia Michinaga: all is reality... how can you escape it?
    Albertus Urvilan: that's the gist
    Adelene Dawner: That's what I was saying, Steve. ^.^
    Solobill Laville is most probably an asshole, but still not quite convinced that qualia "exist" as such ;)
    Rowan Masala laughs
    Albertus Urvilan: I can animate my avatar endlessly while ignoring the dishes in the sink, and while my physical body atrophies.
    Adelene Dawner: I can play tennis endlessly while ignoring other things and starving to death, too, and nobody says tennis isn't real.
    Albertus Urvilan: cute, solobill! ... of course it is in denying the other that the assholeness arises.
    Albertus Urvilan: LOL Adelene
    Solobill Laville: Do you mean in denying the other's experience, Albertus?
    Albertus Urvilan: y
    Albertus Urvilan: You're still indulging in escapism, so the point hinges on the ESCAPE of "escaping reality," not on the REALITY.

    Adelene introduces the topic of variations in the senses and perception:

    Adelene Dawner: Actually Solo that blends into something I was thinking about...
    Solobill Laville listens
    Albertus Urvilan: Kierkegaard: "if you label me you negate me" ... why not also "if you deny me"
    Albertus Urvilan: Both are dismissals of the other, in their infinite variety of experience
    Adelene Dawner: Past just 'qualia'... we really have no way of knowing if our whole sensory *systems* are experienced in the same way as anyone else's... I know what vision looks like and hearing sounds like for *me*, but it could well be that others experience what they call vision entirely differently than I do. I was actually wondering if those differences, if they exist, could be related to different kinds of inteligence or other skills... like, a form of vision that's a more accurate representation of the underlying pattern of energy could lead to 'better visual-spacial skills'
    Solobill Laville: I think that is dead-on
    Solobill Laville: Further, to me, there is no way we can actually perceive the same things through our sensory organs at all
    Solobill Laville: So, then, my point on qualia, they are only a term for the ultimately subjective
    Solobill Laville: (and thus self-created)
    Rowan Masala: for me, everything is ultimately subjective
    Albertus Urvilan: And we can never know why anyone would not dread the possibility of seeing President Palin sworn in.
    Albertus Urvilan: Such people exist!
    Albertus Urvilan: How!
    Rowan Masala: quantity is all a myth for me
    Solobill Laville: hehee
    Solobill Laville: There are some Al...
    Solobill Laville wonders what Rowan means by quantity...
    Adelene Dawner: However, they do point-to some kind of 'real' and consistent thing... if I say to you 'press the red button' - your experience of 'red' may be utterly different of mine, and 'button', and 'press', but you can still translate those words into a meaningful course of action based on your past experience with those words and what they mean to you.
    Solobill Laville: yes
    Rowan Masala: and what people have taught you to associate with "red" and "button" and "push"
    Adelene Dawner: your 'red' may not be the same as my 'red' but it *is* a consistent thing for you.
    Albertus Urvilan: Obviously there are standardized tests such as colour-blindness graphs to test our sensory apparati
    Albertus Urvilan: But
    Adelene Dawner: So it's pointing to *something*.
    Albertus Urvilan: Even if you close one eye, then the other, you experience colour temperature differently through each.
    Rowan Masala: Bill, I think I just mean anything measured at all--none of it's real to me--money or reference desk statistics or square feet. But then, my parents are both math professors, so this may be entirely a rebellion against that on my part
    Solobill Laville: What is colour temperature?
    Solobill Laville smiles at Rowan
    Albertus Urvilan: redder, bluer
    Solobill Laville: ah, ok
    Albertus Urvilan: like that
    Rowan Masala: redder is warmer?
    Solobill Laville: maybe a key point on all of this is that "red" is not really "red"
    Albertus Urvilan: yes, can be, with skin tones ... think of how your lover looks at sunset on the beach
    Solobill Laville: but the lack of, or combination of, other things
    Adelene Dawner: Yes and no, Solo
    Solobill Laville: which are then processed by this unique observation tool - our eye -
    Solobill Laville: in conjunction with out unique processing tool - our brain
    Rowan Masala: I wish Jimmy were here
    Solobill Laville: to make "red"
    Rowan Masala: he would provide such a different insight into all of this
    Solobill Laville: AND if that's the case, what the heck is the "red" qualia?
    Adelene Dawner: your *experience* of red is personal and we have no way of knowing if it's standardized from one person to another. But the property that that experience points to does seem to be meaningful. We can agree that the cushions are brown and that my feathers are black and purple and pink, no matter how we *experience* those colors. There is some shared property.
    Albertus Urvilan: that's why the poetic is so important to experience and sharing.
    Rowan Masala smiles
    Solobill Laville: So how does this all apply to "Being"?
    Albertus Urvilan: ee cummings
    Albertus Urvilan: so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.
    Solobill Laville likes ee cummings :)
    Adelene Dawner: It seems to point to what I call 'the deep pattern', solo. The reality underneath the experiences.
    Solobill Laville: Please go on, Adelene :)
    Adelene Dawner chuckles. "There's not much to say, really."
    Solobill Laville chuckles
    Albertus Urvilan: and we get into trouble going down that path!!!!
    Adelene Dawner: It can't be put into words in any general way.
    Solobill Laville: Well, but I wonder
    Solobill Laville: how this idea of qualia applies
    Albertus Urvilan: What lies beneath the reality underneath the experiences!
    Solobill Laville: I'd argue there's nothing to qualia
    Solobill Laville: but seems I might be in the minority :)
    Albertus Urvilan: You know the story about the earth being the back of a giant turtle?
    Rowan Masala: ok, I know I've missed all the others, but can we take nine seconds of meditation, please
    Adelene Dawner: I can talk about 'this part of the pattern' or 'that part of the pattern' when talking about aspects of reality, and I know they're all part of the larger pattern of reality-as-a-whole... but it's impossible to generalize about reality; it's just too complex.
    Rowan Masala: thank you

    Enter J1mmy:

    Rowan Masala: Hi Jimmy
    Rowan Masala: welcome
    J1mmy Weiland: hello
    J1mmy Weiland: thanks
    Adelene Dawner: hi :)
    Albertus Urvilan: Hi J1mmy
    Solobill Laville: Hey J1mmy
    Solobill Laville: How are we doing Rowan? :)
    Rowan Masala: so, Jimmy we were talking about qualia, and perception, and reality and escapism
    J1mmy Weiland googles qualia
    Albertus Urvilan: The holographic model fits well. We each perceive from our relative position.
    Albertus Urvilan: It's a model found in quantum theory and meditation alike.
    Rowan Masala nods
    Albertus Urvilan: Not to mention in marriage counselling offices
    Rowan Masala: LOL
    Rowan Masala: oh please don't remind me
    Albertus Urvilan: ha
    Albertus Urvilan: I like real-world examples!!!
    Albertus Urvilan: or should I say, examples I can understand
    Albertus Urvilan: duh
    Albertus Urvilan: huh?
    Rowan Masala: Jimmy and I have had a lot of interesting discussions about perception lately
    Solobill Laville: Any conclusions? :)
    Rowan Masala: and they way he experiences things that I would hear
    Solobill Laville: And what does that mean, Rowan?
    Rowan Masala: for example, we were talking about moaning during sex
    Rowan Masala: and for me, I think of that as entirely auditory
    Rowan Masala: but for him, since he is deaf
    Albertus Urvilan: you mean stimulation
    Rowan Masala: it's a matter of feeling the movement in the chest and feeling the breath exhaled onto his cheek
    J1mmy Weiland: i think what rowan is trying to say is, i use my hands to feel sounds
    Albertus Urvilan: Do you know about the deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who hears her instruments through their vibration, and plays barefoot
    Rowan Masala: things I would never have even noticed
    Solobill Laville: Right, so the perception of the event is "in the eye of the beholder"; e.g. subjective?
    J1mmy Weiland: much like i would place my hands on a woofer to feel the beat
    Rowan Masala: but not just your hands--all of your senses
    Solobill Laville nods
    Adelene Dawner: (No worries, Jim, this isn't even the edgiest conversation we've had today. ^.^)
    Solobill Laville wonders what he missed
    Rowan Masala: as do I
    Adelene Dawner: It'll be in the wiki, guys.
    Rowan Masala: but PaB needs more edginess anyway
    J1mmy Weiland has no idea what he missed.... typical for the deaf experience
    Solobill Laville: hey, we said a@$%^& today... :))
    Adelene Dawner: heh
    Adelene Dawner: different kind of edge.
    Albertus Urvilan: Well, in terms of "qualia", it could be said that the vibration in the air could be experienced as a sound, or physical wave; either way, it is quantifiable, even if only by use of instruments of detection.
    Solobill Laville: lol, Jimmy
    Adelene Dawner: I wouldlike to see more of this kind, though, too - well-rounded is good. ^.^
    Albertus Urvilan: It's where qualia are not detectable that folks get in to trouble. But "does it exist?"
    Albertus Urvilan: is the question in that case .... of course I would say yes
    Albertus Urvilan: because it is relative and I respect the relative
    J1mmy Weiland: i thought the main issue with qualia is not whether they are detectable, but how to describe them
    Solobill Laville: It seems to me that perhaps the reason for the term qualia is that they aren't quantifyable
    Solobill Laville: But even if they were, I'm no so sure I'd think they exist... ;)

    J1mmy touches on the issue of masculinity, and the group dives into the gender issue:

    J1mmy Weiland: i forgot how to change my pose to a more masculine form
    Rowan Masala laughs
    Rowan Masala: click the cushion
    Albertus Urvilan: I think it has to do with the properties of physical experience, not so much the "tag" or name we give these experiences.
    J1mmy Weiland: whew thanks
    J1mmy Weiland: that probalby qualifies as a qualia
    Rowan Masala: (but how do you know we're not all thinking that the way you're sitting is very masculine)
    Albertus Urvilan: quale is a singular.
    Solobill Laville thought Jimmy looked confident of his masculinity ;)
    Rowan Masala: really? not qualius?
    Rowan Masala: interesting
    Albertus Urvilan: Show of hands here whose avatar reflects their RL gender!
    Solobill Laville raises hand
    Adelene Dawner raises her wing ^.^
    Rowan Masala raises her hand
    J1mmy Weiland: ummm raises hand
    Albertus Urvilan raises hand
    Albertus Urvilan: LOL
    stevenaia Michinaga: now that's not reliant, you are asking us to define gender
    Solobill Laville: Ooh, good point!
    Albertus Urvilan: That's the catch LOL
    Rowan Masala nudges steven
    Adelene Dawner: hehe
    Albertus Urvilan: whee!!!
    Albertus Urvilan: I go through this a lot with my trans friend;)
    Rowan Masala nods
    Solobill Laville: Gender is, of course, a variable...
    stevenaia Michinaga: sometimes at the same time
    stevenaia Michinaga: I have been both
    J1mmy Weiland: i could never be a woman......
    Solobill Laville now wonders whether we are talking about RL or SL
    Adelene Dawner chuckles. "I was thinking about this earlier, too... when you get beyond that kind of dichotomy in how you think of yourself, how do you answer those questions? I'm biologically female, but in my thinking, I'm just as often masculine and most often neutral."
    Albertus Urvilan: I've been encouraging my FTM friend to get an avatar here. I told him I've got a nice dick I can copy to him.
    Solobill Laville: But even "masculine" and "feminine" aren't absolutes
    Solobill Laville: but are culturally difined
    Solobill Laville: *e
    Adelene Dawner: mmhmm
    stevenaia Michinaga: agrees with Ade in the reverse for me
    Rowan Masala: and for me right now, Albertus is vapor--so what does that indicate gender-wise?
    Albertus Urvilan: I'm so moist!
    Adelene Dawner: I'm not talking about gender-roles, tho. I'm talking about occasionally being startled by the fact that I'm missing bits.
    Albertus Urvilan: To you.
    Rowan Masala: lol
    Albertus Urvilan: Missing bits!?!?
    Solobill Laville: OK, so, is there ultimately some sort of "masculine" or "feminine" quale, so to speak?
    Albertus Urvilan: I suppose it would be qualia -- a set of experiences.
    Albertus Urvilan: Burping, farting, watching TV with beer.
    Rowan Masala: and if we each listed a dozen, there might be some overlap
    Rowan Masala: but we wouldn't all say the same thing about what the qualia were
    Adelene Dawner: (I suspect, by the way, that if I had just the male bits and not the female ones, I'd be startled by not having those just as often. It's pretyt weird, I know, but it is what it is.)
    Albertus Urvilan feels I am missing a vagina!
    Adelene Dawner: indeed!
    Albertus Urvilan: except when I forget to attach my penis.
    Rowan Masala: I'd love to have everyone create a notecard listing the qualia for male and female, separately, and then compare them
    Solobill Laville thinks this session has made up in "edginess" for the last few days!
    J1mmy Weiland: my big problem is not attaching my penis.
    J1mmy Weiland: its remembering to detach it
    Rowan Masala: have I told you all about the first time I tried to attach my clit?
    Albertus Urvilan: we would end up, I fear, with a list of stereotypes! The point I was making early on is that the word, "quale", comes from the same latin root as "quality", which is experienced in the moment, always freshly.
    Rowan Masala suddenly feels the persona of Pema looming over the group and blushes
    stevenaia Michinaga: ahhh, no rowan
    Adelene Dawner laughs.
    Albertus Urvilan: My make friend puts a flower in his hair, my female friend takes testosterone injections.
    Solobill Laville: It is most certainly a part of "play"
    Adelene Dawner: I'm sure Pema will be fine. ^.^
    Albertus Urvilan: Excellent Solobill!!!
    Albertus Urvilan: The play's the thing
    Rowan Masala grins at Solobill
    J1mmy Weiland: i shall be going... time to feed the cats
    Solobill Laville: NIce to meet you J1mmy
    Adelene Dawner: cya, Jim
    stevenaia Michinaga: bye J1mmy
    Albertus Urvilan: Bye Jimmy!!
    Albertus Urvilan: b well
    Rowan Masala: goodnight, Jimmy
    J1mmy Weiland: this was fun as always :)
    Solobill Laville: I'll take Jimmy's cue as well
    Albertus Urvilan: Bye Solobill, a pleasure
    Solobill Laville: 'Night all :)
    Rowan Masala: ah yes, we are after 8:00
    Rowan Masala: goodnight, Solobill
    Rowan Masala: good to spend some time with you
    Albertus Urvilan: I've never hung out with philosophers before ... it's kind of fun
    Albertus Urvilan: when grounded to experience, not just trying to outdo each other with brain size.
    Rowan Masala: it's wonderful having you here, Albertus
    Adelene Dawner: ^.^
    stevenaia Michinaga: most of my philosopher friends are bartenders
    Albertus Urvilan: not drunks?
    Rowan Masala laughs
    Adelene Dawner goes back to gluing Discordian sayings onto playing cards, but continues reading. ^.^
    Albertus Urvilan: *** sigh ** I coundn't hang out here without Wikipedia.
    Adelene Dawner: most of us use it, Al.
    Rowan Masala: wonders if her entry on Shylock's birth order concerns has been corrected in wikipedia yet
    Rowan Masala: well, thank you all for coming this evening
    Rowan Masala: and thank you adelene for keeping the long until I made it here
    Rowan Masala: *log
    Adelene Dawner: no worries ^.^
    Albertus Urvilan: Otherwise, how would I know that Adelene is referring to Eris, the greek goddess of strife, who was a recurrent character in the Wonder Woman series!
    Adelene Dawner: >.<
    Albertus Urvilan: Thanks Wikipedia for the comprehensive data.
    Rowan Masala wants an invisible airplane
    stevenaia Michinaga: that's your female side showing, Albertus
    Adelene Dawner: "Time is a spiral, Space is a curve, I know you get dizzy but try not to lose your nerve" says the latest card.
    Albertus Urvilan forgot to raise his hand earlier!
    Albertus Urvilan: nice card!
    Albertus Urvilan: That can't have been one of Strife's sayings????
    Albertus Urvilan: I like it!!
    Adelene Dawner: I dunno, I found it in a big list of discordian quotes, unattributed.
    Rowan Masala: "Because I know that time is always time, and place is always an donly place, I rejoice that things are as they are"
    stevenaia Michinaga: see you all later
    Rowan Masala: goodnight Steven
    Albertus Urvilan: goodbye for now
    Adelene Dawner: cya Steve
    Albertus Urvilan: Play safe. Wear a condom while male.
    Rowan Masala: lol
    Albertus Urvilan: Carry mace when female
    Albertus Urvilan: men are pigs!
    Albertus Urvilan: ** sigh **
    Adelene Dawner: hehe

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