Main Question or Discussion Point
In the "place for Consciousness" reading forum, the following interchange took place between honestrosewater and hypnagogue:
But whether we assign some extrinsic meaning to them based on our education in physiology or whatevee, phosphenes are just physical events without intrinsic meaning, and they don't meet hypnagogue's quoted criterion of standing for anything. The same can be said of trying to think of "abstract redness" and other such excercises. Even if you can do it, what is gained for the definition of consciousness as apart from and richer than physical processes?hypnagogue said:honestrosewater said:With the phosphenes, I think it is well-known that they are representational of physical events taking place somewhere in the optic structures. Even imagined images can be correlated with specific brain events.
It depends on what we mean by representational. I think the sense of the word Rosenberg meant in chapter 1 is close to this one: "A state has a representational property when, to put it intuitively, it has a meaning or somehow stands in in some process for something else, such as an object, or a `proposition' ± a putative fact" (from http://people.cornell.edu/pages/beh24/rep.pdf [Broken]). One interpretation might further say that a qualitative experience Q is representational for a subject S if S takes Q to have some sort of meaning. It would seem to be safe to say that a visual experience as of a rock is representational for all cognitively normal, non-infant humans: we take such an experience to mean that there is a rock in the external world, sitting in front of us. But for a person who is not particularly educated about physics or physiology and does not hold supernatural beliefs, the experience of phosphenes probably has no particular meaning; it's just an experience, and not indicative of anything beyond itself. For such a person, phosphenes are not representational, as the word is defined above.
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