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

Zeb Haradon (
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 22:58:43 -0800

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Fabulich <> To: <> Date: Tuesday, December 14, 1999 9:29 PM Subject: Re: q***** [that is, "qualia"]

>'What is your name?' 'Kate Riley.' 'Do you deny having written the
>> Since you have said that we are all zombies, Mr. Fabulich, this would
>> that you also believe that we do not Experience anything. This
>> would seem to be very much akin to the question of whether or not
>> 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

Not true. You can step outside yourself, look at yourself and explain your actions "Dan is stepping out of the way of that car because its rapid expansion in his visual field caused his depth perception center to realize it was approaching him. This prompted his physics center to realize the car would crush him. His constantly running death-avoidance mechanism calculated that the best way to avoid death was to step out of the way, then sent the instruction to his legs." But why *should* you get out of the way? Why bother? Any human is capable of not moving out of the way of a moving vehicle. In fact, why move ever at all in any way.

>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!"

My own argument is that it's not logically entailed from anything at all. It is, however, self evident. Without that self-evidence, there would be no reason to assert it since no other fact leads to it. The world is consistent with consciousness existing or with it not existing - does that make it a Godel statement?

>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!

Dennett uses this analogy inappropriately. He ridicules a hypothetical modern vitalist who might say "perhaps you can explain digestion, reproduction, respiration, and all of that, but have you really explained *life itself*?", and compares them to a consciousness philosopher who might say "perhaps you can explain memory, reportability, cognition, perception, but have you really explained *consciousness*?". The metaphor is flawed because *life* is defined as the summation of all those functions mentioned: reproduction, respiration, digestion, etc. Consciousness, however, is not explained as the summation of all cognitive FUNCTIONS, it is defined as the way experience appears and feels to you.

>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

I think you're allowed to say fuck here.

>that? This is dogma, not reason!
>-Dan, frustrated
> -unless you love someone-
> -nothing else makes any sense-
> e.e. cummings

Zeb Haradon
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