Re: q***** (and incorrigibility)

Damien Broderick (
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 11:42:08 -0800

At 11:43 PM 11/12/99 -0500, Dan wrote:

>You could be "thinking" (in the functional sense) but not
>Thinking in the spooky sense. How do you Know that you're Thinking when
>you could just "think" that you're Thinking?
>This is not an idle skeptical concern. I really DON'T think that you're
>Thinking. I think that you're "thinking."

Uh huh.

Under a certain pressure from empirical investigation, I think, `think' and Think that this sort of distinction just folds up.

For example: I had never experienced the qualia of seeing a 3D world as most of you do. I get by, using complex learned inferences from size cues, colour density changes, parallax, etc, but one of my eyes can't do the central focus thing and so the neural visual areas that were meant to decode its input and correlate them with the other eye's slightly offset field have been colonised by my emergent science fiction lobe (or withered away, or whatever). So I inhabit, by contrast with most humans, a qualia-deficient reality. In some ways, I suspect, this is weirder than total blindness, since I have quite a good idea of what it might be like to see a richly rounded world, but I just can't do it. (Interestingly Dave Chalmers had a similar dysopsia that was corrected late in childhood and he recovered depth vision, which is perhaps one reason for his interest in the mystery of qualia.)

But I know that if stem cells were injected into my brain, and tweaked just right to grow back some relevant cortex, and I was trained to use it, it's possible that depth would abruptly `pop out' for me. I'd have new qualia that are inconceivable to me right now, strictly speaking. Does that make me a partial zombie? Not. (But then I'd say that, wouldn't I? Throw stones at the zombie, he can't duck!)

Damien Z. Broderick