Friday, 20 May 2011


The phenomenal mind is based on the assumption that there are essentially two kinds of perception; objective and subjective. The hard problem in explaining consciousness is actually due to the inability to explain the subjective nature of things. I would like to resolve this issue by stating that all experiences are subjective and qualia is  the closest we can come to actual reality .

In order to explain this, I would like to speculate on the nature and purpose of perception in the context of evolutionary science.

 To perceive is the ability of an organism to receive a signal from the universe and to divide the universe into to semiologically usefull entities. In other words perception is nothing but the divison of the universe into meaningfull and not meaning full chunks. Meaning on the other hand is derived from what was usefull in the past.

For example for a single cellular animal with primitve sensory capacity, it may be meaningful to classify the universe as, food vs no food, mate vs no mate, safe vs unsafe. The similar phenomena can be hypothesized to act in higher species with complex neural systems; and finally with all the co-evolving complexity the human mind.
Thus I would like to postulate that all sensory systems evolve to detect what ever was useful for them to detect in the past.

The human mind too understands the universe by sensory perception that divides it into meaningful chunks. The simplest such chunk is a feature ( eg. colour, Shape, pitch, ). A collection of features is an object.  The relation between objects is called causality.
The internal representation of the object in the organism’s nervous system is called qualia.

The collection of certain features to be grouped together as an object is determined by its clustering in space and time and its usefulness to self (pleasure).

Objects therefore are artificial clustering of features based on their co-occurrence in space and time that are seen through the lens of the qualia enhacing feature called pleasure and pain.

 The meaning of the object is encoded in the very fact that we are able to perceive them and by the sense of  qualia  . Thus one would conclude that perception is emperical, relative and historical and is not an accurate description of the truth. The only way reality its represented to the organism / the human being is through the Umvelt of  qualia.. In other words all perceptions are qualia, which in turn are empirical and dependant of our ecological past and this qualia is the only link to reality.  Also one has to realize, dividing the universe into semiologically useful chunks is in no way a complete representation of reality. Hence one can conclude that all perception is limited. The fact that perception is limited can explain the fact that we can feel our pain while cannot feel the pain of the other person. In other words our limited perception is not evolved to perceive the pain of the other person the same way it perceives ours.

What we call objective reality are those areas, where people can agree upon similar qualiae. This is mostly dependant on language and culture. So hence I conclude that there is only individual quliae that make up the personal universes of all human beings. Thankfully there are areas of overlap in our perception that gives rise to the illusion of objective reality. Now with objective reality being nonexistent, it’s relatively easy to explain consciousness and qualia..

                                                                                                      Prabhakar.A.T   8/2/2010

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