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Philosophical zombies
#1
Philosophical zombies
I often get carried away in thought experiments that are of no practical importance. If that's not of interest to you, best go read something more worthwhile Wink

A philosophical zombie is something that is physically identical to a human in every way, yet has no conscious experience. The lights are on but no one is home. If I am actually plugged into a simulation for example, it would be reasonable to say everyone else could be such zombies, if they are simulated.

In what way is a zombie really different though? This seems to me to be a difference without a distinction. Defining what an "experience" is, seems to be hugely problematic. I have no way of telling, for example, that anyone has any experiences other than me. I ponder the idea of what it even means for me to have an experience.

Consciousness is similarly difficult to pin down, but scientifically I think it's best described as an emergent property of a functioning brain. So to say a zombie has a physical functioning brain but no consciousness seems like a contradiction. I am feeling that the best way I can describe "experiences", even my own, are as pragmatic internal illusions. It seems ridiculous to say my experience is "real" but the exact physical processes of a zombie produces a consciousness that isn't real. The word "real" is so ludicrously hard to define that I've given up formally trying to do so.

I watched the video below, as a guy tries to defeat physicalism. He does so by simply stating zombies don't exist. Other than appealing to popular opinion, I don't know how he came to that conclusion. I'm not impressed or convinced. I think that most people insist there is a difference between us and zombies because they need to feel special, but it's begging the question and appealing to dualism, as far as I can see.



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#2
RE: Philosophical zombies
So if physicalism/monism is true, philosophical zombies cannot exist ... or we are all philosophical zombies.

If spiritualism/dualism is true, philosophical zombies can exist.

That's how I'm seeing it for now. Have not done much reading on philosophical zombies in a detailed manner, but heard about them a few times and Wiki'ed it a little. So feel free to correct me on anything I may have said wrong here.
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#3
RE: Philosophical zombies
That seems about right to me, yeah. I'm leaning towards saying we are all zombies, or rather, it makes no difference if we are or not. It's the same thing.

Spiritualism/dualism seems to me to be just an argument from incredulity/complexity. Consciousness and "experiences" seem so amazing and difficult to explain that they must be distinct from the physical world somehow. But if they aren't physical, what are they? Supposing some dual plane doesn't provide any more explanatory power, it just hides this claim from analysis.

Is there stuff going on we don't know about? Almost certainly. But why claim it's non-physical? That's just asserting we will never know about it.
Feel free to send me a private message.
Please visit my website here! It's got lots of information about atheism/theism and support for new atheists.

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#4
RE: Philosophical zombies
Quote:I'm leaning towards saying we are all zombies, or rather, it makes no difference if we are or not. It's the same thing.

Agreed.  A difference which makes no difference is no difference.

Boru
'A man is accepted into a church for what he believes.  He is turned out for what he knows.' - Mark Twain
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#5
RE: Philosophical zombies
It struct me recently that "time is money", because I really need it right now. I feel like I have no time for non productive chatter.
[Image: keep-calm-and-praise-the-sun.jpg]
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#6
RE: Philosophical zombies
Since I first read Chalmer's book where he introduced the idea of philosophical zombies, I have been convinced his argument is flawed. Consciousness is a matter of processing information in the brain. That means that anything physically identical to a conscious person will also be conscious.

Philosophers like to talk about the 'hard problem of consciousness', but I have to admit I have never grasped the fundamental difficulty. They seem t think that no physical explanation can be enough to explain our consciousness, but I see it as quite the opposite. Hell, we already have a LOT of the details of how consciousness arises in thebrain, from awareness in the brain step, to memory, to planning, etc.

Where is the gap?
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#7
RE: Philosophical zombies
A currently popular pov on that is that there is no hard problem of consciousness.  Just a collection of soft ones, like anything else. I suppose the hard problem might have seemed more compelling before we understood how even the non-conscious things around us process information or how that manifests itself to us as behavior.

We'd been positing animus and spirits and souls for some time to try and grasp at that. It didn't occur to us that it was (or even could be) mechanical. Knowing now, though..that it is and can be, and being able to identify similar mechanics in ourselves.........
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a battle to commence then KPLOW, I hit em with the illness of my quill, Im endowed..with certain unalienable skills....  

-ERB


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#8
RE: Philosophical zombies
(March 2, 2018 at 4:56 am)purplepurpose Wrote: It struct me recently that "time is money", because I really need it right now. I feel like I have no time for non productive chatter.

What is it with you coming into threads just to say, “your thread is stupid”?  If time is money, why did you waste yours by commenting in a post you have no interest participating in?
Nay_Sayer: “Nothing is impossible if you dream big enough, or in this case, nothing is impossible if you use a barrel of KY Jelly and a miniature horse.”

Wiser words were never spoken. 
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#9
RE: Philosophical zombies
I've heard Daniel Dennett's arguments that philosophical zombies can't possibly exist.... and I think they're terrible.

His argument is basically that the part of the brain that is used to simulate consciousness also leads to consciousness. So if someone seemed conscious enough they would be conscious.

And his caveat is that "or maybe we're all zombies" because he does after all hold that retarded "consciousness is an illusion" view.... when consciousness is the one thing in the universe that is NOT an illusion. The whole world could be an illusion but the fact we are conscious of that illusory world is NOT an illusion.

His notion of consciousness being like a "user illusion" makes no sense.... because he draws an analogy with a computer's operating system. And while it's true that the way a computer works on the inside is nothing like how we navigate it on Windows or Mac OS or Linux or whatever.... that doesn't change the fact that the screen we are looking at and the operating system we are using is NOT an illusion in the sense that it actually is there and we actually are looking at it and using it.

If it SEEMS that we are conscious... we are conscious. To say that the seeming itself is an illusion when the seeming conscious is the reality of consciousness as far as consciousness is concerned.... makes no sense. He tries to explain consciousness but it doesn't work because he tries to get into what consciousness really is.... when we already know what it is, so he can explain how the brain works as much as he likes.... but he has to use that information to explain what consciousness is, and not what his own redefinition of consciousness is. Or he's talking about something else.

So what he's done is redefined consciousness as a way to make it possible that consciousness can be illusory. To him, seeming conscious isn't consciousness because consciousness is something else to him.

And I think this is the only way anyone can debunk a possible philosophical zombie. By redefining shit. He does the same with free will. As all compatabilists do.

I'm an epiphenomenalist so I believe that consciousness is an effect that has no effect. We could survive and eat and kill and fight and reproduce with all our mental complexity without the consciousness part. We could behave conscious without being conscious. Consciousness is utterly useless and we're merely both very unfortunate and very fortunate to have it.... depending on happy or unhappy we are.

The evolutionary path that we have happened to have taken has happened to lead to our brain's complexity resulting in the useless side effect of consciousness. Our body could react and flinch to pain without it needing to hurt. Our brain could be rewarded for certain things without feeling pleasure, etc.

(March 2, 2018 at 4:56 am)purplepurpose Wrote: It struct me recently that "time is money", because I really need it right now. I feel like I have no time for non productive chatter.

If you think philosophy is just "unproductive chatter".... then you're in the wrong subforum, mate.

(March 2, 2018 at 4:37 am)BrianSoddingBoru4 Wrote:
Quote:I'm leaning towards saying we are all zombies, or rather, it makes no difference if we are or not. It's the same thing.

Agreed.  A difference which makes no difference is no difference.

Boru

So basically we're not zombies but philosophical zombies are not impossible, lol.

The difference is... a philosophical zombie wouldn't actually feel anything or be conscious. But it would seem to everyone else that they would. The crucial and very real difference is that there would be no seeming to THEM. Daniel Dennett thinks this is impossible. Because he likes to use his own definitions and equivocate a lot. God, Daniel Dennett is annoying. He doesn't even have a first-person version of consciousness. To take the third person perspective of consciousness to such an extent that he denies the first person is as nutty as you can get when it comes to consciousness. Consciousness is as first person as it gets.

Galen Strawson coined a term to describe what Daniel Dennett does to words. It's to looking-glass a word.

Strawson Wrote:Here there is a wonderful irony, for the false naturalists – even as they doubt or deflate or deny the existence of experience, and revile Descartes, their favourite target, for being an outright realist about experience – are themselves in the grip of a fundamentally Cartesian conviction: the conviction that experience can’t possibly be physical, that matter can’t possibly be conscious. The irony is fierce because Descartes was at bottom aware that one can’t rule out the possibility that matter may be conscious. Many of the false naturalists, by contrast, have no such doubts.

Some of them will deny this. They will insist that they do admit the existence of consciousness or experience, and do allow that it can be physical. But they do this by changing the meaning of the word ‘conscious’ into something that involves no consciousness. They ‘looking-glass’ the term, by which I mean use it in such a way that whatever they mean by it, it excludes what the term actually means.
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#10
RE: Philosophical zombies
(March 2, 2018 at 9:13 am)polymath257 Wrote: Philosophers like to talk about the 'hard problem of consciousness', but I have to admit I have never grasped the fundamental difficulty.

Just think about it. :-)
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