‘The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive there is a whirr of information processing but also the subjective aspect.’ So said philosopher David Chalmers, and Tom Stoppard used the phrase as title for an excellent play. In my recent post on measurement, I tried to emphasise that measurement as opposed to mere triggered response cannot be performed by machines. There is also the vivid impact of singular experience. Consider ‘The this of sense cannot be reached by the word’ – Hegel. Also ‘There is something it is like to be a bat’ Thomas Nagel and wonderful James Joyce ‘The ineluctable modality of the visible.’ The following poem tries to say something fresh, although not original, about subjectivity.
It’s not that mind was a late arrival
in the house of physics,
it was there all along with the foundations,
never left, was just taken for granted.
Reality, the consensus became,
was what could be measured,
not simply an upshot that was noticed
but examples in an ordered array.
The WOW of a giant sequoia,
thisness brimming within me,
declines to an attraction in a brochure
with tourist tiny beside it.
Imagination doesn’t make comparisons, think: the people I love.
Each one is imperfectly perfect – each one able to delight and surprise.
Imagination doesn’t make comparisons,
think: the people I love.
Each one is imperfectly perfect -
each one able to delight and surprise.