why study neurology?

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Wed Jan 16 21:30:18 EST 2002

In article <43525ce3.0201161337.3ff59923 at posting.google.com>, mat
<mats_trash at hotmail.com> writes
>> The level of subjective experience.
>This is where I will never even begin to understand... I can't see how
>'the level of subjective experience' can sit comfortably.  What is
>this level? is it physical? mystical or what?  I keep on asking this
>at the end of a post and you say you;ve answered above, but I can
>never see the explicit answer (becuase I don;t think there is one)or
>do you have a worldview that there just *is* a level of subjective
>experience? The problem is that if you cannot define or formulate it
>as more than that then you can't make any testable hypotheses 

Well, I gave you the flaming trousers example, but just to pursue this a
little more seriously: trials of antidepressants were mentioned earlier.
As you probably know, symptomatic change in such a trial would be
measured by subjective patient descriptions (codified in rating scales
like the Beck Depression Inventory etc.) - descriptions of experiential
phenomena like mood, appetite etc. They would *not* be assessed by
measuring changes in neocortical 5HT or whatever. I would suggest that
even if this latter were possible- even in the minutest detail-, we would
nevertheless still rely on experiential accounts to tell us whether the drug
had actually worked i.e. lifted the depression. 

I think this is my basic problem with the "qualia don't exist" argument- as
a philosophical stance it does not describe our actual experience, and
thus is of no value.  To say, "but it's true nonetheless", is merely a matter
of faith, not of science.

Nick Medford

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