'What is your name?' 'John Clark.' 'Do you deny having written the following?':
> Dan Fabulich <firstname.lastname@example.org> Wrote:
> >In fact, many (most?) philosophers of mind who believe in
> > qualia ALSO believe that zombies could exist,
> Many (most?) philosophers act as though we've discovered nothing
> about physics, biology, logic, or computer science in the last 100 years,
> perhaps 200, in fact some think nothing important has happened since
Sad, but true. Here, I want to quote a few passages from Waiting for Zed, because it's good stuff, and deserves a second look:
Alf: With all your talk about parts and the way things behave, you're forgetting the most important thing. From my point of view it really doesn't matter if something acts like me or not, the important thing is that something feels like me. The continuation of my subjective experience is what I want to survive, it's what people mean when they talk about immortality. A computer may be able to act just like you or me but be unable to feel anything. It could just be a mechanical gadget that goes though all the proper motions but with no more awareness than a cuckoo clock. Can you prove it's more than that?
[Does this remind anyone ELSE of the zombie? It does me.]
Bob: No, I can't prove that consciousness would be preserved in a computer, the only consciousness I can prove to exist is my own, and that proof is available only to me. We just have to assume that when something--like other people, act intelligently--they are conscious.
[Golly, we have to ASSUME it? It doesn't seem as impossible as you made it out to be.]
Alf: That doesn't sound very scientific. Why must we assume something that we have not proven? Bob: Because nobody can function if they really think that they are the only conscious being in the universe, we must accept it as one of the axioms of existence that intelligent behavior is impossible without consciousness. Basically that's the Turing Test. This test is not a perfect instrument for studying consciousness and it has not been proven to work and will never be proven to work, but it's the best tool we have and the best we will ever have for studying this question.
[The assertion that we can't get by without assuming consciousness exists is false. You can be like me and say that "consciousness" is hogwash all together, that we're "thinking" in the functional sense but not Thinking in the spooky Cartesian sense.]
Alf: You surprise me Bob, you were just telling me how foolish it is to assume that a problem has no logical solution because if you don't even try to solve a mystery your chance of solving it is zero, but now you throw up your hands and say it's just too hard and we'll never find a theory of consciousness. Bob: Not so. I'm sure you could dream up a really nifty theory about consciousness, I'm sure you could come up with lots of them. It's easy to invent consciousness theories (but not theories about intelligence!)because there are no facts they must explain. How are you going to tell which of the many theories is correct? In the final analysis all you'll have to work with are external things like actions and the physical state of a brain. That works fine for examining intelligence but you can't prove it's enough for consciousness. As a practical matter we must assume that consciousness and intelligence are inter-linked so if something acts just like you it is conscious just like you, The Turing Test. Alf: I think you're being much too pessimistic, I don't see why consciousness couldn't be put on a sound scientific foundation someday. Before long we will be able to record the position of every atom in your brain, surely that's enough information to figure out for certain what consciousness is all about. Bob: Let's say you have a super sophisticated brain analyzing machine. One day you feel sad and analyze your brain with the machine. You develop a reasonable sounding theory to equate the state of the neurons in your head with your subjective experience. How do you test your theory? Well, you try it on me. You notice that the state of my neurons is similar(but not identical) to yours when you felt sad, and from this you use your theory to conclude that I am experiencing sadness just like you did. As proof that your theory was successful you point to the fact that I have tears in my eyes and made a noise with my mouth that sounded like "I feel sad". I think this would be very good evidence that your theory is correct, but a >>> skeptic could correctly point out that the state of my neurons were not identical to yours, only similar, we are after all different people with different brains. The differences could be crucial, you really felt sad but it's different with me, I get tear production elevated and the nerves in my mouth stimulate my tongue to make a noise like " I feel sad" but really I feel nothing. The only way to know for sure what it's like to be me is to turn your brain into an identical copy of mine, but then you wouldn't be you, you'd be me. -- John Clark, Waiting For Zed http://www.extropy.org/eo/articles/zed.htm
[Ahem. What you've just said here is that there is a problem of other minds, and that everyone else, despite all of your super analyzing equipment, could turn out to be zombies. That's merely the technical term for people who are just like Thinkers in every way, except they have no consciousness. For all you want to poke fun at me for using the zombie example, HERE YOU ARE USING IT. I hope you don't challenge me for quoting out of context or anything.]
The only difference here is that you make an exception for yourself, and all identical copies of yourself. It's THAT idea that I'm trying to deny, on EXACTLY the same grounds as the previous skeptic.
Heck, suppose we made use of the magic copying machine. You could use your super-analyzing equipment and see that your copy had all the same brain states as you, and observe all the same behaviors. But a skeptic could correctly point out that the problem of other minds extents to your copy, as well. How would you prove that he's conscious? After all, your "proof" that you're conscious is available only to YOU.
Don't tell me that we have to assume it. We don't. I reject it, and I'm arguing that you should, too.
> >or, at least, that they are conceptually coherent.
> Huh? If something is impossible yet the idea is coherent in your belief
> system then your belief system is wrong.
Yes. Yes, indeed. But I've just given a name to something which YOU think is conceptually coherent, and THAT'S my challenge to YOU. You claim that it could very well be the case that everyone except you is a zombie, that "a skeptic could correctly point out that" other people "SEEM" conscious in every way, but aren't. I challenge you further that, on the same grounds of the previous skeptic, YOU could be under the mistaken "impression" that you have qualia as well. Before you even start, I know that you "think" that you're Thinking, I know that you "think" you have qualia, it's my assertion that you are "fooled," and that we can't/don't Think at all. Nor do we Think we have qualia, though some of us "think" we do. (again "think" in the functionalist sense, Think in the Cartesian sense)
I don't really think zombies ARE conceptually coherent, to be honest, but that's because I don't think qualia and consciousness are conceptually coherent. If you force me to assume that consciousness is somehow a coherent idea, then I'll be forced to say that we're all zombies, but I take that to be a pretty silly way of saying it.
> Well yes but there is nothing unique in that, it need not have
> anything to do with consciousness. I don't care what it is if you keep
> asking "why" after the statement "X happened because of Z" you will
> after about 6 or 7 questions be talking about quarks and the geometry
> of space- time, and after that all you can say is I don't know.
Ahem. You missed the relevant argument of Chalmers where he backs that assertion up. He does so by using the zombie argument! Here, I'll quote it again, because I'm fond of quotation:
"At the end of the day, the same criticism applies to *any* purely physical account of consciousness. For any physical process we specify there will be an unanswered question: Why should this process give rise to experience? Given any such process, it is conceptually coherent that it could be instantiated in the absence of experience. It follows that no mere account of the physical process will tell us why experience arises. The emergence of experience goes beyond what can be derived from physical theory."
That instantiation in the absence of experience is just the same thing as your man who cries and claims to be sad but feels nothing. That instantiation is a zombie. So don't go running about claiming that zombies are nonsense, because a skeptic like yourself could correctly point out that zombies may not be nonsense at all.
-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-