Zombies Support Physicalism

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Zombies Support Physicalism

All right, all you philosophy of mind buffs. Here's my twist on the old zombie problem.

Originally, the zombie problem was supposed to show that physicalism is false. The idea is basically this: If it is possible that a zombie, a creature that is physically indistinguishable from a human, but which is not actually conscious, could exist, then there is something that is non-physical which constitutes actual consciousness. Therefore physicalism is false.

I've always thought this a silly argument, in that it confuses what is possible in the imagination with what is actually possible in reality. Yes, I can imagine a zombie. No, I don't think such a zombie is *actually* possible. In much the same way I can imagine a god who created the universe, but don't think such a god actually exists.

So, right off the bat, the zombie argument looks like it fails to disprove physicalism.

But I'd like to make a quick argument to show that zombies would actually *support* physicalism. And I hope you all try to tear it apart and find holes in my argument.

Here goes: The gist of the argument is that if zombies are possible, how do you know you yourself are not a zombie? In fact, if zombies are possible, then it is possible that all so-called 'conscious' beings, yourself included, are actually zombies who only *believe* they are conscious. In other words, the intuition that consciousness is non-physical is just a flawed zombie idea, and really we are completely physical beings who have a physical/zombie simulated experience which we call 'consciousness', and merely imagine that this consciousness is non-physical.

Thus, if zombies are possible, that lends credence to the idea that physicalism is true, and we are all zombies, and 'consciousness' is actually a physical thing.

The argument rests upon the key point that zombies are *physically indistinguishable* from real conscious humans. That means:

- All zombies believe they are conscious, i.e. that they have 'conscious experiences'.

- There is no possible test/question you could ask a subject to determine if that subject is a zombie or a real conscious person.

- If you ask a zombie, "Do you have conscious experiences?" The zombie will answer "Yes, of course," just like a person would.

- Zombies, therefore, must have an analogue of 'conscious experience' in their brains which they use to reference their 'consciousness' during such conversations/tests/questions. (I.e. when a zombie talks of experiencing the colour Red, there must be a physical representation of 'Red' and 'the experience of Red' in the brain to which the zombie is referring.)

- Therefore, this physical analogue of 'conscious experience' in the zombie brain, must *also* be present in a real human's brain, because zombies and humans are physically indistinguishable.

- Therefore, it is possible that you yourself are a zombie who is absolutely convinced you are actually a real conscious human.

- Instead of a non-physical consciousness, you would have a physical analogue of consciousness in your brain.

- If you did *not* have this analogue of consciousness in your brain (i.e. if consciousness is in fact non-physical), then there would be a physical difference between you and a zombie, and the premise that zombies are possible would be contradicted.

- In other words, if zombies are possible, then this *subtracts* support from dualism/non-physicalism.

So, either way you look at it, if zombies are possible, then this both supports physicalism and detracts from non-physicalism. Furthermore, we are probably all zombies, and we probably all have physical analogues of our imagined non-physical consciousness in our brains. The intuition that consciousness is non-physical is an error. The 'analogues' are actually what consciousness *is*. We only imagine that consciousness is something other than these physical 'analogues'.

So, it seems to me that the zombie problem backfires, and it's actually a problem for the opponents of physicalism. Either zombies are *not* possible, and dualism is true, or zombies *are* possible, and physicalism is probably true. Positing zombies does nothing good for opponents of physicalism.

It is still theoretically possible that there is this mysterious thing called 'consciousness' which is non-physical. But according to the zombie premise, this non-physical consciousness would not actually do anything at all, since all of its function would be performed by the physical analogue of consciousness in the brain (that both zombies and people both have). When a real conscious person talks of experiencing the colour Red, there is also a physical representation of 'Red' and 'the experience of Red' in the person's brain, and the non-physical consciousness is left with no explanatory work to do.

Thus, by Occam's Razor, physicalism is more justified, if zombies are possible.

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To put it another way: If

To put it another way: If physicalism is true, what could we possibly be *other* than zombies??? Thus, positing the existence of zombies in no way threatens the plausibility of physicalism.

Put yet another way: If an opponent of physicalism believes zombies are possible, then he must also concede that physicalism is more justified, by Occam's Razor. If he doesn't believe zombies are possible, then why is he positing them in the first place?

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I like it.Just one of the

I like it.

Just one of the reasons I have little respect for so much of Philosophy (see my sig) is the number of times they will argue on the basis of "possible worlds", saying things like "imagine that X exists, then..."

Aargh!!

I also had a gut "Daniel Dennett" moment when you mentioned the bit about experiencing the color Red, reminding of the stupid "qualia" business.

Wonder if anyone will bring up the deeply confused John Searle, of "Chinese Room" stupidity....

 

 

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Put a third way: Opponents

Put a third way: Opponents of physicalism have no recourse other than to hold strongly that zombies are not in fact possible. (It is the only way they can be sure that physicalism is false. Admitting the possibility of zombies opens up the possibility that we are all actually zombies, and the intuition that consciousness is non-physical is just a flawed zombie intuition.)

(Edit)

Put a fourth way (hmm, this is a pretty fruitful line of thought): For people who use the zombie argument, the word 'consciousness' is just a label, a meaningless word. The whole idea of a zombie is that you take a real person which has been labeled 'conscious', and you simply remove that label and suddenly you have a zombie. The zombie acts the same, looks the same, and in *every* detectable way *is* the same as the original person, but suddenly now it's a zombie. Slap on that label again, and it transforms magically into a real conscious person, with absolutely no way to tell the difference. Label-off, zombie, label-on, person. Completely at the whim of whoever is doing the labeling. To these people, 'consciousness' has no discernible effect at all, it is merely a meaningless label.

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BobSpence1 wrote:I like

BobSpence1 wrote:

I like it.

Thanks!

Quote:
Just one of the reasons I have little respect for so much of Philosophy (see my sig) is the number of times they will argue on the basis of "possible worlds", saying things like "imagine that X exists, then..."

Aargh!!

Agreed. I once wrote somewhere (but I can't find it now) about modal logic, something to the effect of: The problem with modal logic is that, like quantum physics, it is easy to twist and turn to support your argument, while utterly and completely fooling yourself.

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I'm really getting a lot of

I'm really getting a lot of insights from this way of looking at the problem. Here's another analogy I just came up with when I saw the Lifeforce post in the forums. It shows the utter absurdity of the zombie problem.

Imagine that it's possible that a 'robot' could exist. This robot is physically indistinguishable from a real, live human being, except that it is not alive. It looks like a human, talks like a human, grows from a single cell just like a human, in fact the cells of a robot are physically indistinguishable from the cells of a human, and the robot can reproduce and have babies exactly as a human can. Robots have DNA and undergo evolution just like humans do. But they are not really alive.

Here's the kicker. If robots are possible, then 'lifeforce' is constituted by something non-physical. Therefore physicalism is false.

This should be obvious to everyone how utterly absurd it is. And yet this is exactly the same argument that zombie-ists use.

My argument in the original post, transposed, would be: If robots are possible, then probably we are all really robots, physicalism is true, and our intuition that there is a magical non-physical 'lifeforce' is mistaken. Life is just a physical process, there's no need to posit some non-physical aspect to it. The concept of a non-physical lifeforce is just a meaningless label applied to those things we imagine to be 'alive', as if that's some special property.

Positing the existence of robots undermines the anti-physicalist stance, rather than the intended effect of undermining physicalism. The only safe place for the anti-physicalist to be is to maintain that robots are *not* in fact possible.

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Sorry for all the separate

Sorry for all the separate post, people, but different ideas keep popping up in my head. Here's another one:

Imagine that scientists have built a zombie from scratch, and this zombie is a zombie-version of you. It is like looking at your identical twin, but even moreso, because this zombie has all of your personality, thoughts, memories, etc. down to every single last detail. I guess you could imagine like a Star Trek transporter device, or the teleporter from The Fly, except instead of just teleporting you, it makes a complete, physically indistinguishable zombie version of you.

The only difference between this zombie and you is that you are 'conscious' and the zombie is not.

Okay. Now, you have a terrible accident which causes brain damage to your left hemisphere of your brain. You are about to die. But fortunately, the doctors are able to kill the zombie (it's okay, he's not really conscious anyway) and take his left hemisphere and *perfectly* transplant it into your skull, *perfectly* attaching it to your right hemisphere, such that your new half-zombie half-human brain is *physically indistinguishable* from your original fully-human brain.

Now, since we know that your right eye's vision is processed in the left-hemisphere, does this mean that you will be unable to experience the colour Red from your right eye, while being able to experience it from your left eye?

Are you now trapped in your right hemisphere, while the zombie pseudo-consciousness lives in your left hemisphere? If you are, are you able to communicate this fact to the world outside? Are you able to answer the question, "Are you able to experience the colour Red through your right eye?" in any other way than to honestly answer "Yes"? Remember, your whole-brained self would not be able to honestly communicate that it was only half-conscious, and your whole and half-half brains are physically indistinguishable, and therefore would respond in physically the exact same way when physically asked the question. A half-half zombie would also have to answer "Yes".

If you are unable to honestly communicate your diminished experience to the outside world, would you even be able to communicate it to yourself? Imagine this case: Your half-conscious 'consciousness' would not have any conscious experience of the goings-on of the left hemisphere. You would be thinking to yourself, "This is horrible, I'm only half-conscious. I have to tell someone!" And yet, any time someone asked you about your experiences related to the left hemisphere, you would find your physical body responding with full knowledge, exactly as if you *were* having conscious experiences from the left hemisphere.

Scientists have done split-brain studies, where the left and right hemispheres are physically separated. They find that it is possible to communicate directly with one half or the other, by speaking only into the right ear, or displaying a message only to the right eye. However, your half-half zombie brain would not have this blocked communication. You would respond to these tests like a whole-brained person does. Your human half and your zombie half would be in completely normal communication with each other. In essence, you would be *aware* of your zombie-half's pseudo-conscious experiences. To such an extent that, when scientists communicate directly with your zombie half, you would respond *exactly* as if you were a completely whole-brained human. You would be *aware* of the scientists communicating with your zombie half.

Would you even be aware of the fact that you are half-and-half? Maybe the scientists are lying, and you never had the accident, never had the zombie brain transplant, and you are still fully whole-brained human. How could you tell the difference?

Let's imagine that the zombie-duplicating machine has been tweaked so that, instead of creating a zombie version of you, it creates a half-half zombie version of you.

The fully human version of you walks in, and out walks both the original you and a half-half zombie version of you. In this case, the half-human brain has also been endowed with the equivalent human consciousness, exactly as if you had experienced a zombie half-brain transplant.

As the two of you walk out of the machine, how would you be able to tell if you were the original you or the half-half you? You would be physically indistinguishable. Both of you would respond the exact same way to all questions and all tests. Either you are really the original you, or you are a half-half zombie who is *absolutely convinced* that he is the original you. There would be absolutely no way that you or anyone else would be able to tell you apart.

If the half-half zombie would be absolutely convinced it is the original you, then in what way would it make sense to say that the half-half zombie is 'aware' that it is a half-half zombie?

The only way I could see it is if there is a non-physical half-mind which is helplessly trapped, knowing that it's only half-aware, and being completely and utterly unable to do anything about it. Nothing in its brain mirrors this awareness. This awareness would be completely non-physical, with no physical correlate. The brain itself would be in a state of absolute convincedness that it is a whole-brained human. Both the zombie side of the brain and the human side of the brain would be in agreement on this. The zombie side of the brain would be able to access the experiences of the human side, and the human side would be able to access the experiences of the zombie side. So, you could say that the zombie side would be 'aware' of the human side and the human side 'aware' of the zombie side. It would be physically indistinguishable from a whole-brained human having his left side aware of his right, and his right side aware of his left.

So, the only kind of awareness that makes sense in a world where zombies are possible is an awareness that exists in a magical non-physical realm, and has absolutely *no effect* on the physical realm. To all other appearances, including to your own brain's experience, you would not be aware that you are a half-half zombie. The half-half zombie duplicator would be indistinguishable from a complete human duplicator.

If you're not in any functional way aware that you are half-half zombie, then it's just as possible that you are entirely zombie, and all of the 'awareness' occurs in your physical brain.

The idea of a non-physical awareness or consciousness fades away into nothingness. None of its experiences have any effect on the physical world, and there would be no way to know if you even have such a non-physical consciousness at all. You could be a human with one, or a zombie without one. You would never know the difference. All the 'experiences' you are experiencing now could just be zombie experiences, and they would be just as convincing to you as 'real' experiences. The experience of Red when you look at the colour Red could just be zombie-Red, and you are absolutely convinced it is real-Red. There is *no way* to tell the difference.

If there's no way to tell the difference, then maybe, just maybe, there is no difference. Of course, like ghosts and gods, we can imagine that they exist, but there's no good reason to think they do. So, too, might non-physical consciousness. But life is just as vibrant, just as colourful, with or without it. Zombies live just as richly experiential lives as 'real' humans. Being a zombie isn't bad at all, it would be exactly like being you right now. Nobody, not even you, could tell the difference. Maybe you are a zombie. Would that bother you?

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natural wrote:So, right off

natural wrote:

So, right off the bat, the zombie argument looks like it fails to disprove physicalism.

.

.

.

- All zombies believe they are conscious, i.e. that they have 'conscious experiences'.

- There is no possible test/question you could ask a subject to determine if that subject is a zombie or a real conscious person.

I'm not sure the zombie argument is dead, considering that it seems possible to create strong AI, such that one could create a behavioral zombie. For this reason, I would challenge challenge the first premise. Why is it necessary that "all zombies believe they are conscious". I imagine one could reanimate bodies that believe nothing at all yet are programmed accordingly to exhibit strong AI. If you were to ask the zombie, "Do you have conscious experiences?" it could be programmed to lie, and say "Yes". But as the second premise states, one could not know if it is indeed conscious or not. (Only the necromancer would know.) Now suppose "conscious"zombies, AI zombies exist, and humans all exist. All three are indistinguishable, so one can only conclude they are indeed the same thing based on what one does know, but this would be a false conclusion. But because one cannot know, I think this collapses into some sort of metaphysical solipsism.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I'm not

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I'm not sure the zombie argument is dead, considering that it seems possible to create strong AI, such that one could create a behavioral zombie.

Strong AI is not the same thing as a zombie. A zombie is *physically indistinguishable* from a real human. This is not some Turing test. Zombies are physically, in every single way, identical to humans. They are made of living cells, not silicon. The whole point of philosophical zombies is to challenge physicalism. Thus, it is crucially important that they be physically indistinguishable from a real conscious human. There are exactly zero physical differences. Otherwise, it is not a zombie.

Quote:
For this reason, I would challenge challenge the first premise. Why is it necessary that "all zombies believe they are conscious".

If real people believe they are conscious, then zombies must also. Otherwise, there would be some physical difference, which would invalidate the entire thought experiment.

Quote:
I imagine one could reanimate bodies that believe nothing at all yet are programmed accordingly to exhibit strong AI.

If the zombie is programmed, then the human must also be programmed. Otherwise, there would be a physical difference, and it would not in fact be a zombie. Only physically identical zombies pose a challenge to physicalism.

Quote:
If you were to ask the zombie, "Do you have conscious experiences?" it could be programmed to lie, and say "Yes".

Are humans programmed to lie when asked that question? No. The programming would have to be a physical difference from a real human. Not a zombie.

Quote:
But as the second premise states, one could not know if it is indeed conscious or not. (Only the necromancer would know.)

These are not 'undead'. They are philosophical zombies. If you're not familiar with this terminology, please read the articles I linked to in the OP.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:But as

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But as the second premise states, one could not know if it is indeed conscious or not.

If the philosophical zombie has a body identical to a human's and behaves just like a human, for what reason could you conclude that a human is conscious while this zombie isn't?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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natural wrote:Strong AI is

natural wrote:

Strong AI is not the same thing as a zombie. A zombie is *physically indistinguishable* from a real human. This is not some Turing test. Zombies are physically, in every single way, identical to humans. They are made of living cells, not silicon. The whole point of philosophical zombies is to challenge physicalism. Thus, it is crucially important that they be physically indistinguishable from a real conscious human. There are exactly zero physical differences. Otherwise, it is not a zombie.

I  was supposing that a human body could be programmed to respond indistinguishably from a human but have no beliefs at all, that is a behavioral zombie. The human body would be the "hardware" if you will.

If the zombies are "physically indistinguishable", I think you'd be question begging. I need not posit the content on their brains to determine that whatever one does to a zombie, one could do to a human being. The only discernable difference otherwise then is the content of their brains. For the very reason you gave in your second premise, I think the any sort of philosophical zombie argument is no more in favor of physicalism than it is dualism.

 

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butterbattle

butterbattle wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But as the second premise states, one could not know if it is indeed conscious or not.

If the philosophical zombie has a body identical to a human's and behaves just like a human, for what reason could you conclude that a human is conscious while this zombie isn't?

I can't. That's the point. I was supposing a necromancer (a philosophical necromancer, if you will) animates human bodies, otherwise indistinguishable from any other human bodies, to behave as human beings do, but not give them any sort of beliefs. No one can conclude anything about them. To conclude they are the same would be a false conclusion.

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butterbattle

butterbattle wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
But as the second premise states, one could not know if it is indeed conscious or not.

If the philosophical zombie has a body identical to a human's and behaves just like a human, for what reason could you conclude that a human is conscious while this zombie isn't?

Just to clarify so we're all on the same page: It is part of the definition of a zombie that it is not conscious. More specifically, it does not have 'conscious experience', whatever that means (not all philosophers can agree).

So, if you know (somehow) that it is a zombie, then you know for sure that it does not have 'conscious experience'. But if you don't have this prior knowledge, then no physical test can determine if it's a zombie or a person.

Shorter version: If you know it's a zombie, you know it's not conscious. Otherwise, there's no physical way to tell.

Zombie proponents use the argument to say, "Well, *I* know that *I* have 'conscious experience', and so I'm not a zombie. But I can imagine that everyone else might be a zombie, so it is *possible* that zombies exist. Therefore 'conscious experience' is non-physical and physicalism is false."

My argument challenges this claim, attempting to show that 'conscious experience' is an empty, meaningless label, and that the zombie-argument-proponent does *not* know that he/she is not a zombie. Zombie pseudo-consciousness would be just as convincingly real to a zombie as 'conscious experience' is to a so-called 'real' person. In fact, the idea of a non-physical 'conscious experience' would just be a mistaken idea held by a zombie to describe its own merely-physical pseudo-consciousness. Furthermore, if zombies are possible, then humans *must* have an absolutely convincingly real physical pseudo-consciousness which is easily mistaken for a non-physical 'conscious experience', for the reason that zombies are physically indistinguishable from real humans. Therefore, if zombies are possible, we're all probably confused zombies, and physicalism is probably true, according to Occam's Razor.

Latest idea, spurred by this condensation of my argument: I think I have a name for my kind of zombie. 'Confused zombie' or 'combie'. If you use the pronunciation of 'c' from some Slavic languages (e.g. Czech), then it would actually be pronounced 'ts', as in tsom-bee, which sounds nicely similar to the original zom-bee. Or, if you have difficulty with pronunciation, just kome-bee, like, "He thinks he's so cool, *combing* back his hair, but really he's just a confused zombie." Eye-wink

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I was

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
I was supposing a necromancer (a philosophical necromancer, if you will) animates human bodies, otherwise indistinguishable from any other human bodies, to behave as human beings do, but not give them any sort of beliefs.

To clarify: The zombie argument is not about beliefs, it is about 'conscious experience'. The common example is that the conscious experience of Red is not the idea of 'Red', or the belief that 'Red' exists, but the experience of 'what it is like to see Red'. An zombie proponent may readily concede that beliefs are physical entities in the brain, but will insist that 'conscious experience' is not.

A simple way to imagine it is: A crazy person is 'the lights are on, but nobody's home', and a zombie is 'somebody's home, but the lights are off'.

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natural wrote: Therefore, if

natural wrote:
Therefore, if zombies are possible, we're all probably confused zombies, and physicalism is probably true, according to Occam's Razor.

I was suggesting no belief because your zombies had them. I guess my zombies weren't quite as smart as yours.

I guess I am more zealous with the razor such that there is no stubble left. I see your argument, but I'm still not convinced it's not question begging. To prove otherwise would be as difficult to prove one is not a brain-in-a-vat or anything like it, but I propose we fiat passed it, because it seems that we create a solipsism otherwise. I think we both agree that it does not prove dualism though. So I think we can leave it at that.

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"Zombie pseudo-consciousness

"Zombie pseudo-consciousness would be just as convincingly real to a zombie as 'conscious experience' is to a so-called 'real' person."

This simply could not be the case, since zombies don't possess 'pseudo-consciousness.' Also, a zombie couldn't be *convinced* of anything, he could only *act* as if he were. The problem with your argument is that you're repeatedly smuggling in consciousness-laden terms that the zombie thought experiment precludes.

"My argument challenges this claim, attempting to show that 'conscious experience' is an empty, meaningless label, and that the zombie-argument-proponent does *not* know that he/she is not a zombie."

If a person proposing the zombie argument doesn't know if he's a zombie, then we can say he knows that he doesn't know he's a zombie. But if he 'knows' anything, he's not a zombie. A zombie can *act* as if he knows something, but he by definition has no conceptual belief-cum-justification structure that we conscious beings minimally associate with knowledge. Again, you're smuggling in terms the thought experiment precludes. If S knows that P -- not merely acts as if he knows that P, and doesn't merely have brains states that correlate with the knowledge that P, but *knows* that P -- then S cannot, by definition, be a zombie, since knowledge presupposes the very consciousness the zombie gedanken experiment prohibits.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote: A zombie

edejardin wrote:
A zombie can *act* as if he knows something, but he by definition has no conceptual belief-cum-justification structure that we conscious beings minimally associate with knowledge. Again, you're smuggling in terms the thought experiment precludes.

The OP conjectured that if there is no discernable difference then they are the same, and there is no reason to think that one's conscience is something special and the zombie's "conscience" is not. Also, there is then no reason to posit a more complex consciousness when they a simpler one will do the job.

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Ubuntuanyone, I don't

Ubuntuanyone, I don't understand your response, and I don't see how it was a response to my comments that you quoted. What's the OP? And when you wrote 'conscience' did you mean 'consciousness'? And what is a 'simpler consciousness'? And if a simpler consciousness obtains, it's still consciousness, which is ruled out by the very definition of a zombie. Could you clarify your response? First, I'll clarify mine, and even dilate upon the relevant issues it a little bit.

I was referring to the manner in which Natural smuggled in terms that presuppose consciousness, while denying that zombies are conscious, to get his argument off the ground (e.g. "...and really we are completely physical beings who have a physical/zombie simulated experience which we call 'consciousness', and merely imagine that this consciousness is non-physical." N.b. his use of terms and phrases such as 'experience' and 'we imagine' -- terms that cannot be divorced from notions of the very consciousness zombie thought experiments prohibit). But we could ignore all that for the moment and take it back a step. We are more certain of the fact that we are conscious -- whether we're brains in vats, dreaming subjects, in the Matrix, veridically experiencing the world, etc. -- than we are of anything else. When you want to suggest even the possibility that what is so strikingly obvious could be false, you are obligated to present an error theory of some sort (and the more obvious the phenomenon to be explained away, the stronger the error theory must be). Sans such an error theory, we're perfectly justified in rejecting the possibility that we could be zombies with an appeal to nothing more than our obvious conscious experiences -- experiences zombies, by definition, lack. (Incidentally, the need for an error theory, and the presuppositions concerning consciousness that the very possibility of error theories as such rest upon, itself refutes the possibility that I may be a zombie.)

And that last parenthetical sentence brings us back a step further still. We define zombies by appealing to our consciousness: Zombies lack *this* sort of intentionality (aboutness). But to suggest that we may be zombies, but simply believe we're not, is to appeal to our beliefs. In other words, to say, as Natural does, that "if zombies are possible, then it is possible that all so-called 'conscious' beings, yourself included, are actually zombies who only *believe* they are conscious," is to contradict oneself, for if I were a zombie, I couldn't have any beliefs, which presuppose intentionality, by definition. Hence, the mere fact that I can question whether I'm a zombie demonstrates that I cannot be one.

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:Could you

edejardin wrote:

Could you clarify your response?

I think what the OP was getting at is that there is nothing about zombies that suggest that we are any more or less "conscious" than they are. There is no reason to think that a zombie, who's consciousness is otherwise indiscernible from our own consciousness, has a consciousness any different from our own. If this is the case, then possibly, we too are zombies, and consciousness is reducible to a mere physical consciousness. This is simpler than a dualistic consciousness. The "smuggling" as you call it is an attempt to understand that which is typically understood in nonphysical terms in physical terms. Beliefs are "conscious experiences". That is to say, there is nothing about the content of beliefs to suggest that zombies could not have them, so to suggest that if "I were a zombie, I couldn't have any beliefs" is not necessarily true.
 

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my dear friends, you are all

my dear friends, you are all missing the point.  if only the diamond sutra had been composed at the time of the zombie virus, it surely would have spoken to this dilemma.  but still, its exposition of the mahayana can be applied to this situation as follows:

zombies can rise from the grave fully conscious, yet there are no zombies that rise from the dead, there is no consciousness that animates them.  yet we cannot say that zombies have no physical form, for it is clear that they do, since they walk, emit groans, and feed on the living.  we cannot say that zombies have no consciousness, because they are clearly animated.  yet the Tathagata only uses these terms ("zombie," "consciousness" ) as figures of speech, for they have no independent existence, no ego, they are anatta.  the zombie is already the buddha nature, its consciousness has already disappeared into the bliss of anuttara samyak sambodhi.  zombie is buddha and buddha is zombie; samsara is nirvana and nirvana is samsara.

it would be beneficial to close with an application from the hinayana pali canon:

the question of the truth or falsehood of physicalism is irrelevant and harmful.  truly, the arhat knows the answer to these and all dilemmas, but he does not speak of them, for they neither reveal the truth that all is suffering, nor do they reveal the truth that suffering is caused by craving, nor do they reveal the truth that craving can be overcome, nor do they expound the method by which craving can be overcome.

or, as the great ch'an patriarch hui neng may well have said in his moments of deepest samadhi, "cut the bullshit."

"I asked my father,
I said, 'Father change my name.'
The one I'm using now it's covered up
with fear and filth and cowardice and shame."
--Leonard Cohen


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""I were a zombie, I

""I were a zombie, I couldn't have any beliefs" is not necessarily true."

UbuntuAnyone, would you agree that intentionality -- 'aboutness' -- is a fundamental feature of all beliefs? If it is, then zombies cannot, by definition, have any beliefs. If it isn't, could you explain how a belief can completely lack intentionality?

Edejardin


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edejardin wrote:""I were a

edejardin wrote:
""I were a zombie, I couldn't have any beliefs" is not necessarily true." UbuntuAnyone, would you agree that intentionality -- 'aboutness' -- is a fundamental feature of all beliefs? If it is, then zombies cannot, by definition, have any beliefs. If it isn't, could you explain how a belief can completely lack intentionality?
What about zombies, definitionally, does not allow for intentionality?


 

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