Re: q***** [that is, "qualia"]

Dan Fabulich (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 23:56:52 -0500 (EST)

'What is your name?' 'Kate Riley.' 'Do you deny having written the following?':

> Since you have said that we are all zombies, Mr. Fabulich, this would mean
> that you also believe that we do not Experience anything. This ultimately
> would seem to be very much akin to the question of whether or not anything
> exists, in the sense that both questions may, at least informally, be
> answered in the same manner. Perhaps you're familiar with the story. I
> forget the names, but let's call them Philosopher A and Philosopher B.
> Philosopher A is going on at length about how nothing actually exists.
> Philosopher B throws a rock at his head.

I'm quite familiar with the story. "Philosopher A," so the story goes, was Berkeley, and "Philosopher B" was Swift.

> In the same token, there are inevitable base assumptions which must be
> made before any philosophy becomes meaningful: first principles,
> immediate knowledge, etc.. These things arise from experience.
> Without the experience, there /is/ no basis upon which other arguments
> may be built.

Look, I have a perfectly coherent theory in which Experience does not exist, but in which the real world does. So do cars. So do I. So do you. It's a theory under which I should dodge oncoming cars, just like yours.

Indeed, my approach of assuming that we "experience" (in the functional sense) instead of Experience (in the spooky Cartesian sense) gives me all the practical value I need: I'll still try to avoid being in "pain," still attempt to maximize "happiness," etc. Only I don't have to believe that there's something spooky and Hard about the problem of mind.

You assert that without Experience, there is no basis for argument, but you make this claim totally without justification! Sometimes I get the feeling that I'm arguing with 17th century thinkers about the existence of God. "Look," they say, "You simply have to have a notion of God! Denying His existence is logically contradictory!" "How?" "It's a first principle!"

Dennett is in the habit of analogizing this debate to that over vitalism. Can you imagine a living thing -- a living thing, mind you! -- denying the existence of elan vital??? It's ludicrous!

You're telling me that your argument for the existence of Experience is that... it's a FIRST PRINCIPLE??? What the *heck* kind of an argument is that? This is dogma, not reason!

-Dan, frustrated

-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-

e.e. cummings