Thursday, March 22, 2007

Janiv Paulsberg against representational theories of pain.

Janiv gave an interesting talk last night about pain. From what I gathered Tye’s representational theory is committed to the view that the phenomenal conent of a pain experience is identical to its representational content. Janiv then wanted to show that this must be false by providing a clear cut case where two experiences are phenomenologically the same but have different representational content. This would show that there is more to an experience than its representational content.
Although I am of the opinion that there is little sense in talking of aspects of an experience over and above its representational content, I found myself rooting for Janiv and finding Tye’s position less and less tenable. First off, two dials in a car could have their wires switched. Before the switch Dial A represents the amount of fuel remaining, and Dial B represents the amount of oil remaining. After the switch this is the other way around. B: fuel; A : oil. Suppose A has a white arm sticking towards the red number 4 before the switch and after the switch. The same person looks at the dial before and after the switch. It seems the representational content is different before and after the switch but the phenomena is the same. For a reason I didn’t quite grasp, this was only an analogy. I guess “representational content” is more about the “raw data” of the experience unmediated by higher level beliefs and inferences. So in both cases the representational content is of a dial with the arm pointing to the 4. But I’m already beginning to lose the point at this stage. It is plausible to me that the dial would “look” different in these two cases.

The more complicated and weird example that should please “Ds” family. (see comment on last post) is of inverted earth. Someone (lets call him Sam) is transported knowingly to inverted earth where the colour of things is the opposite of what it is on earth. Tomatoes are green, the sky is yellow and grass is red. People’s use of colour terms is also inverted on inverted earth, so they correctly call the sky blue and the grass green because they use the word “blue” to refer to yellow things etc.
Sam knows all this, but to make things easier for himself he wears some spectrum inverting glasses whilst on inverted earth. So when he looks at the sky, he sees that it is blue and therefore can agree with inverted earthling judgements without needing to revise his colour language.

OK, weird example, but lets accept it and see where it gets us. The idea is that when Sam looks at the sky on earth without the glasses, he has the exact same phenomenological experience as when he looks at the sky on inverted earth. But the representational content is different. (I'm not sure how. Is it because he falsely sees the sky as blue the second time, so therefore it's representational content must be that it is yellow?) Therefore experiences aren’t identical to their representational content.

What is mysterious to me is why the need for the complicated example. Perhaps if I could understand that, I could understand what is going on. In particular, why is it important that the inverted earth colour language is inverted?
Someone explain. What is the difference in the representational content of the two cases?

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4 Comments:

Anonymous RobS said...

I am similarly confused.

It seems obvious that we can re-engineer our sensory systems and make sensible use of the sensations yielded. Basic sensations in humans can therefore be a kind of raw data that we cunningly interpret. (This much can be said without falling into any of the traps of empiricism, the myth of the given etc.) In such cases, what is the rationale for treating these sensations as having independent representational content at all? Why not just let them be subsumed in our higher-order representative states?

I suppose the question is: why think misrepresentation has occurred if no one is misled? Misrepresenation at the subpersonal level, maybe? This is surely just figurative. But I haven't read Tye and could have missed the point.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Jonny said...

Obviously Janiv's not biting, so we're going to have to work it out ourselves. I can see that there is a sense in which Sam on inverted earth is seeing the sky as the wrong colour, even though he correctly identifies it as "blue" and sees it as blue. But to use Evans' terminology, surely this is just a conniving use of "blue". He actually correctly identifies it as yellow. Whether the locals use the word "blue" to refer to yellow ought to be irrelevant. The example has so many features that it is hard to imagine. But I tend to think that a defence of Tye would be either. 1. just to deny that Sam is having the same phenomenological experience in these two cases.
2. assert that there is no representational difference between the two cases.
The strategy would be to say that any representational difference one can point to can be used as a way to distinguish the phenomena. On the other hand, if there is no way to distinguish the phenomena, then there can be no representational difference. I guess this is why the example is so baroque. To me it seems like a fresh way at trying to get at the qualia intuition. But the example is undermined by the fact that in real cases, people tend to quickly get used to various distorting lenses and spectacles and so forth. EG. At the opticians, if I wear glasses and see an image clearly, am I misrepresenting what in fact should be blurred so as to fit in better with the language community that I am in? No, the glasses improve my vision.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"two experiences are phenomenologically the same but have different representational content."

Representational content = dials.

Phenomenological content = memory of change, or of being said about the change.

Representation = a.connection of the type "point fingers at", or b. replica.

Phenomena = our own understanding of things. Noumena = thing.

In philosophy you can not use the phenomena word to represent a physical phenomenon (dial with lights and pointers.)

So phenomena = inner workings of our mind., = oil, not fuel.

Representation = replica or symbol, = dial and visual memory of dial.

.me
www.scatteredpiecesof1dying.blogspot.com

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

robs is

confused

thiks good about sensations

interpreting sensations smartly

ignores play station 3 objects producing sensations

dreams and thinks about his sensations, while producing them with his own hammer mind

thinking sensations harms no kitten

thinks sensations with his own parts

robs is figurative. he is not here. he is inside his sensations.

has not read Tye, because he has sensations by him in the representation of his mind from inside the phenomenological conduct of the subsumable parts outside misrepresentaional sensitive subpersonal non-figurative speculated symbolic manner of of automatizated sensory systems that are working perfectly .. that are working perfectly .. that are working perfectly .. that are working perfectly .. that are working perfectly

3:02 AM  

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