Re: The q word

Dan Fabulich (
Sat, 11 Dec 1999 23:23:40 -0500 (EST)

'What is your name?' 'John Clark.' 'IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!!!':

> Dan Fabulich <> Wrote:
> > 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.
> Then you could be a zombie too and not even know it. You
> think you're conscious but the pitiful little thing you associate
> with that word has no relationship to the grand and glorious
> feeling everyone on Earth enjoys, everyone except you.

In what I've read of yours, you've mentioned that you think that an undeniable proof of your own consciousness/qualia/feeling of self is readily apparent to you.

It seems to me that, if it is at least CONCEPTUALLY possible that you might be a zombie, then your proof fails. You could "think" you were conscious, but not actually BE conscious. (At least, you could "think" so in the same way that the zombie thinks, so you might not want to call this "thinking," though a functionalist would.)

Similarly, I take it that the only reason anybody accepts the idea of qualia is that they believe they have a similar proof, undeniable and yet accessible only to themselves, that they have qualia. My thought experiment was an attempt to cast doubt on that sort of "proof."

If that "proof" is doubtful, then we have a Very Good Reason to throw out qualia/consciousness altogether: they don't fit in with the rest of what we "know" about the world, and they don't explain anything else, so Occam's Razor says to drop it unless and until we have some clear evidence that they do exist.


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

e.e. cummings