Reifying Qualia

This is a short inexpensive book from an author that I enjoyed before when I read his “Phantoms in the Brain”. The Tour is a synopsis of perhaps the best of Phantoms; I didn’t see too much new until I got about halfway thru.

I keep reading Ramachandran because his sense of explanation is sort of congruent to that of a computer scientist. This is definitely not so of Freud or most other psychologists. Ramachandran proposes and reports on many tests of some of his strange ideas. It is significant that his ideas make testable and surprising predictions.

Ramachandran proposes a more concrete mechanism to explain blindsight than in Phantoms. He addresses qualia in an interesting manner; I quote (page 108):

Ramachandran distinguishes between seeing something and knowing that you see it. Qualia arise when you know that you see it. Qualia are the sensation of the sensation, but bear in mind that these two levels are only weakly analogous; it is not recursive! These two levels are in our genes and not a mere cultural construct.

In a film if we see a blind person guess who has come into a room we are not surprised. A recent movie (the Blind Samurai?) tells of a blind swordsman. We find this sufficiently plausible, perhaps due to an implicit acceptance of something like blindsight.

This sort of fits with my notes on consciousness but there is work to be done.