The discussion in the Dennett thread continues–Phunicular is a phenom, and Thoughts is thoughtful (if wrong).
Phinicular is archiving his own comments, or I would post several here; they are wonderful. I’ll just post my latest comment as an appetizer here:
The nature of your question presupposes your position;
The “phenomenal” you’re after is an artifact of word;
Descartes approached the problem in a dualist tradition—
With the progress of neurology, that view is now absurd.
A photon is reflected from a stimulus that’s distal;
Through the pupil, lens, and humors to the retina it goes,
Where a rod or cone transduces it, to fire like a pistol
To bipolar cells and ganglia, as everybody knows.
At the level of the retina, already there are features
Which are processed by the structures that we call the visual fields;
Light is processed very differently by different sorts of creatures
So that information useful to their situation yields.
Now a signal (or “potential”) shoots along the optic neuron
Then through processing in parallel in many different ways
Such as color, edges, faces, on and on and more obscure on—
Read some Sacks or Ramachandran if you can, one of these days.
From occipital to temporal, and on up to the frontal
Back and forth, with constant feedback, now the signal makes its way
With perhaps a verbal output, though the answer that you want’ll
Still elude you, cos you’re looking for a view that’s had its day.
The majority of processing is out of our awareness
(And “the feeling of awareness” has its processing as well!)
We cannot feel the process, just results, and so in fairness
Introspection as a method simply doesn’t work that well.
At no point in the process is “an image” there for viewing,
Nor a “self” to view the image, which is really no surprise;
To demand an explanation for what you think we are doing
Is equivalent to asking how the sun can truly rise!
A perceptual illusion doesn’t mean that something’s missing—
What it means is merely something isn’t what it seemed at first
There’s no need to be Cartesian now, unless we’re reminiscing,
And there’s nothing there but trouble in the bubble we have burst.