[FoRK] Why is there any experience of it, at all? (was: GEB, etc.)

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Mon Jul 9 20:34:38 PDT 2007

On 7/9/07, Russell Turpin <deafbox at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I'm not sure where this fits into your two varieties of subjectivity,
> but it seems clear to me that at least the component of the zombie's
> mind that directs communication is observing the other components of
> its mind, about which it is communicating, including its sensations.
> That doesn't deny the physicalism that philosophical zombies are
> designed to challenge. I just think it is a mistake to say that there
> is no part of the zombie experiencing any part of its inner life. It
> seems clear to me, from the zombie's behavior, that were I able to
> tease apart its computational architecture, I would indeed sensibly
> talk about parts of it observing its various sensations, integrating
> them into its cognitive framework, and using that to communicate
> sensibly about that inner life.

  This is the problem with the word "subjective," because it's regularly
  confused as to what we mean.

  Zombies do indeed have rich worlds of interactions happening within
  their brains, and we can abstract and say that they have "minds,"
  and so on.

  The neurons fire, we could study and tease apart the abstractions,
  and so on.

    "I just think it is a mistake to say that there
    is no part of the zombie experiencing any part of its inner life."

  Right, ...  This is a language problem;  All of our language about
  "consciousness" is rather rough-hewn.

  * "state of consciousness"  (as in: Wow, man,)
  * consciousness  (as in: social consciousness)
  * consciousness  (as in: awake or asleep)
  * consciousness  (as in: perception, awareness, experience)
  * consciousness  (as in: processing sensory data, assigning labels,
processing, ...)

  Similar with experience, and so on.

  One guy even made an argument that says,
  "There experience1, and experience2, consciousness1, and consciousness2,"
  (and so on, and so forth,) to draw attention to the difference between the
  neural correlates of an experience, and the actual experience itself.

  Unless society sees fit to draw such distinctions into conventional
  we have to try and follow what people mean, and clarify as necessary.

> But
> that question cuts both ways. I have no proof that I am not a
> philosophical zombie.

  Oh;  Well, you might actually be a philosophical zombie, and thus
  incapable of distinguishing yourself.

  In fact, if you have any doubts, I think that you should just out and
  say, "I'm not conscious, I'm not aware, I'm not having an experience;
  Not like you're talking about.  The lights are not on in here.  I am
a zombie."

  But, by what paths of neurons and electricity I don't know, I know that I
  am aware.  And the question doesn't cut inwards.

  Because I'm actually the thing under question.  I can distinguish
  that I exist, and I can conceive of not existing, (and yet everything
  else continuing "as is" -- the system should operate identically whether
  it's experienced or no; to claim otherwise is to assign some causal
  power to experience itself, which would be a magical universe, or
  "Class D" dualism) so it's a clear distinction,to me.  I'm calling not
  existing, "zombie."

  Someone said, "What's it matter if you have a zagnet vs. a magnet,"
  (where they are identical from the outside, but one just has an
   undetectable, to all study, "extra" bit, that makes it a zagnet.)
  Well, it matters an aweful lot to you, if you happen to BE that extra bit.

  The most important question in the whole mess, as far as I can tell,
  is, "How is it that we are even having this conversation, then, about
  experience1, vs. experience2?"  How, indeed!

  If there's a chance to crack this nut, it lies in the study of that very
  question.  There are many scenario outcomes that could come of that,
  and I think I'll write on them in a moment here.  This is something
  that is amenable to observation and study.

  What is interesting, is that none of the scenarios end in, "Ergo, you don't
  exist, and the distinction is a fraud."  If they end that way, then we
  can take it as proof positive that the universe is a joke, and that physics
  shouldn't be taken any more seriously, except as the description of a
  nice, complex and large (to our perceived scale,) internally consistent,

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