Ideas of Churchland / Churchland, by Theme

[American, fl. 1983, Husband and wife. Both taught at University of California.]

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15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 3. Privacy
A full neural account of qualia will give new epistemic access to them, beyond private experience
     Full Idea: When the hidden neurophysiological structure of qualia (if there is any) gets revealed by unfolding research, then we will automatically gain a new epistemic access to qualia, beyond each person's native and exclusive capacity for internal discrimination.
     From: Churchland / Churchland (Recent Work on Consciousness [1997])
     A reaction: Carefully phrased and hard to deny, but something is impenetrable. What experience does an insect have when it encounters ultra-violet light? Nothing remotely interesting about their qualia is likely to emerge from the study of insect brains.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 5. Qualia / c. Explaining qualia
It is question-begging to assume that qualia are totally simple, hence irreducible
     Full Idea: One of the crucial premises of the antireductionists - concerning the intrinsic, nonrelational, metaphysical simplicity of our sensory qualia - is a question-begging and unsupported assumption.
     From: Churchland / Churchland (Recent Work on Consciousness [1997])
     A reaction: This is a key point for reductionists, with emphasis on the sheer numbers of connections involved in a simple quale (I estimate a billion involved in one small patch of red).
The qualia Hard Problem is easy, in comparison with the co-ordination of mental states
     Full Idea: The so-called Hard Problem (of qualia) appears to be one of the easiest, in comparison with the problems of short-term memory, fluid and directable attention, the awake state vs sleep, and the unity of consciousness.
     From: Churchland / Churchland (Recent Work on Consciousness [1997])
     A reaction: Most of their version of the Hard Problems centre on personal identity, and the centralised co-ordination of mental events. I am inclined to agree with them. Worriers about qualia should think more about the complexity of systems of neurons.