From: Dan Fabulich <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Date: Saturday, December 11, 1999 1:30 AM Subject: Re: q*****
>Look. Suppose I made a copy of you who was a zombie. He acted like you
>in every way, but he had no experiences, no qualia, etc.
>Would he believe he was a zombie? No. He'd be just like you: he'd insist
>that qualia are real, that he is having an undeniable internal experience
>right now, etc. If I asked that zombie "how do you know you're not a
>zombie?" what would he tell me?
> -unless you love someone-
> -nothing else makes any sense-
> e.e. cummings
He would give you the exact same explanation that any non-zombie would. He
would insist that he experiences sensations and that that fact makes him not
a zombie. This insistence would be caused by reverberations in his vocal
folds, caused by chemicals released there in certain sequences from nerves
which innervate it, in turn caused by those nerves being innervated by other
nerves, in a long chain which winds through the Broca's area and ends up at
hair cells in the ears which vibrated in certain sequence when you asked the
question. A non-zombie, as an object, goes through the exact same sequence,
but for some reason he has experiences associated with it.
This is the problem. A zombie (which presumably does not - and cannot -
exist) is a hypothetical construct to point out why consciousness is so
A more accurate question - if you were the zombie and someone asked you how you knew you were not a zombie, how would you know? Well, you wouldn't be experiencing anything, there would be no "you" to know or not know. If you were not a zombie how would you know? If you heard the questioner's words, felt yourself considering it, or experienced any step along the way, you would know that you're not.
The difficult thing about consciousness if that we know each step along the way of any human action is caused by some physical event - some biochemical reaction (unless the bulk of 20th century science, and some other centuries, is wrong) - but it feels so much like we do something because we "want to", like our consciousness is somehow instrumental in making our voice's talk.