What Is A Hand-Shaped Feeling?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by davidelkins, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. davidelkins Registered Senior Member

    What is a hand-shaped feeling? If I were to take 1000 random points in the hand and ascribe a qualia to each of the points, those points form a set with which to operate. Wikipedia describes qualia as 'what some consider to be individual instances of subjective, conscious experience.' So there might be a number of thermoception senses, pain senses (nociception), vibration senses (mechanoreception), etc. The idea here is to take individual qualia and combine them together into sets, and in this case limiting the set to the hand or in other cases to the feet, torso, head, or even entire body. DE
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  3. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    And how, exactly, would you "combine" them?
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  5. davidelkins Registered Senior Member

    Combine simply means to treat them as a set. DE
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  7. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Reported as being yet another of your entirely inane and pointless threads.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Simply plunging the prehensile member into cold or warm water is going to deliver the surface feeling of a hand's shape (if the latter is too haptically "silent" when not experiencing such overall contact with something else).

    A virtual reality suit would only assign the type of technological stimulation necessary at those points to evoke whatever applicable qualitative feelings result from the neural processing of those received nerve signals. Not literally assign those qualia experiences themselves at the hand's location.

    Which is to say, if the topic isn't obscurely addressing VR suits (or possibly robots or simulated bodies in a game world where the characters are designed to have phenomenalistic experiences), then it would seem to be only of speculative interest to those who were born hand-less.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What do you want to discuss, davidelkins? This is a discussion forum, after all.
  10. davidelkins Registered Senior Member

    James R, I am asking what value there is in treating individual qualia in groups of sets, particularly sets limited to sections of the body. What particular set of points would be useful? DE
  11. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps he wants to discuss what Aristotle called the "common sense" (not to be confused with 'common sense' in our contemporary usage). If David hit on some of the issues motivating that idea independently and all by himself, it shows considerable philosophical talent in my opinion.

    Here's a book about it with summary abstracts of each chapter:


    Babies are soft, warm and pink and they have a distinctive smell. That presents philosophical difficulties, since pinkness is eye-knowledge, softness is one kind of touch-knowledge, warmness is another kind of touch-knowledge, and the smell is smell knowledge. They are all arriving through different sensory modalities.

    Aristotle, and some (not all) philosophers after him, believed that there must be some inner perceptual function (dubbed the "common sense") that combines all of the different sensory modalities together into a percept of a single object of perception.

    Aristotle went further and attributed our knowledge that we are perceiving something, and hence our ability to monitor and to control our senses, to this inner function as well. He thought that it was implicated in sleep and wakefulness. It may or may not have value in unraveling the persistent mysteries of consciousness. Aristotle thought that it did.

    It's an important ancestor of the many representationalist theories of perception that are still popular today.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    No value at all, unless you can describe some. You need first to make a case for why considering qualia at all is useful thing to do, in some contet or other. Only then can any reader see any point in an exercise involving them.
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    What difficulties does this represent?
    I only need sight to identify a baby.
    The other qualities overlay on top of this (my dominant classic sense) and give me a reference point should I encounter those sans sight.
    As long as we can interpret all sensory input as coming from the same spatially-located source, we assign those attributes to the whatever label we give that source.
    In your example: "baby".
    If, however, the source of the smell not interpreted to come from the same source as our visual, auditory, tactile, thermo senses et al then we would not ascribe that label with the attribute of the smell.

    Maybe I'm missing something in what you were trying to explain with your example which you say present philosophical difficulties?
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    We have a (a variety of) tactile data. We have (a variety of) olifactory data. We have (a variety of) visual data. There's auditory data. But how could we even distinguish between the different senses unless we bring them together in consciousness somehow?

    And there's the fact that our consciousness constitutes a unity. What we perceive is complex perceptual content, content that incorporates input from multiple senses. Perception puts us in contact not only with a disjointed array of sensory qualities, but also with objects that we perceive through multiple senses as unities that have a variety of sensory qualities.

    In David's example, I feel smoothness with my fingertip, I feel pressure in my knuckle, I feel warmth on my palm, and I see something when I look down there. So, how does a whole collection of sensations become unified in a single 'set' (as David put it) that I identify as my "hand"? Presumably some kind of process is performing that task.

    Aristotle distinguished between objects that we can only perceive through a single sense, that he called "special sensibles" (colors, sounds and smells) and what he called "common sensibles" that we can perceive through multiple senses (size, shape and movement). That idea's subsequent historical influence is interesting, but the problem relevant to this thread is how is our awareness of common sensibles even possible?

    Aristotle tried to address these issues by attributing a distinctive kind of unity to the perceptual faculty. He posited a "common sense", a hypothetical inner sense (equivalent to subjective consciousness?) in addition to the five individual senses, which performs functions that no other sense can perform on its own.

    It perceives qualities belonging to different sensory modalities. It distinguishes between them. It binds the sensory modalities together into unified perceptual objects. And it perceives the common sensibles.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  15. geordief Registered Senior Member

    All rather interesting. We do indeed have a myriad of incoming and ongoing signals that we filter in order to allow us to survive in the environment.

    I guess that primitive organisms were at first simply able to achieve this alone (which was indeed a mighty feat in itself)

    As we have developed(evolved) from these primitive creatures we may have kept this ability to integrate these different signals into a unified ,moving picture -presumably with some feedback system.

    But we have expanded it ....

    In orders of complexity how what a human being or an advanced form of life is able to organize this information must be numerically(not just numerically) staggering and yet it appears to us as entirely mundane....
  16. TheFrogger Valued Senior Member

    "Opposable thumbs." Looking at the palms of your hand reveals x- and y- axis'. z- is coming towards you.

    Finder grabber keepers.

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