Re: Qualia and the Galactic Loony Bin

Harvey Newstrom (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 00:30:14 -0400

These are simply absurdium arguments. You lead the participant down the slippery-slope to an absurd conclusion. You claim that just because the exact point of error cannot be determined, that the end conclusion cannot be disproved. This is nonsense, and a common logical fallacy.

Take the example of the straw that broke the camel's back. You can keep loading a camel up with straw. You can add one straw at a time. I can't predict when the weight will be too much for the camel. But you can't put an infinite amount of weight on top of the camel before it collapses.

You examples are the same. I know that a living brain is conscious. I know that a chopped-up brain is dead. Instead of explaining how the chopped-up brain can be defined to be alive or conscious, you instead prefer to give the various slippery-slope examples between the live brain and the dead brain.

Let me save you the trouble. The live brain is conscious. The chopped-up brain is dead. I don't know which of your intermediate examples are alive or dead. Most of the intermediate examples are absurd. They might not even be possible given the laws of physics. It may not be possible to transition a brain between the states without killing it. Why do we care about these intermediate states anyway? They are merely a debating device being used to present an absurd theory, which on the face of it would be rejected. Hence, the slippery slope is required.

All theories of consciousness require causality. Cite a reference on pattern-based consciousness if you know of one. All known brains have evolved as connected causal brains. Cite an example of a dismembered brain or a pattern-based brain if you know of one. Your pattern example does not meet the definitions for living or consciousness. Your example seems to be based on the reader's failure to prove it is not conscious. Also, all of your pattern-brains seem to require causal brains to do their thinking for them. Show an example of a pattern based brain doing any kind of thought, communication, reaction, conclusions, memory storage, or something without the help of a causal brain.

Frankly, I am getting tired of repeatedly being asked to prove that the pattern brain is not conscious while you ignore my objections and give no evidence for your claim that it is conscious.

Harvey Newstrom <mailto://> <> Author, Consultant, Engineer, Legal Hacker, Researcher, Scientist.