Friday, September 12, 2008

Zombies, Profession, Beliefs

I've written on the subject before, so I consider it my professional duty to read other people's ideas about why zombies are impossible.

This one in particular is terrible.

As a requirement for the argument, Teed Rockwell states that there is no such thing as direct awareness. Obviously this means that all awareness is indirect.

This can be disproven with a linguistic construct. "All awareness in only known indirectly through ____." But of course, because ___ is direct, it doesn't exist by assumption. Therefore, if Rockwell's was the only argument that zombies are impossible, the the fact that we experienced reading the argument would prove that zombies are possible.

Notably, I don't particularly care if zombies are possible or not. If they are, then obviously consciousness isn't physical. (For the reasons analyzed in the article.) If they're not, then the only way to have physical consciousness is to assume that the problem of consciousness is unsolvable, but the stuff just exists, as all physical stuff just exists.

Because this is philosophy, there is no reason you have to choose one or the other - there is no experiment we can do to distinguish the two. (Barring the mind node working, for the moment.) As such, even in a purely truth-loving world, there would be at least two viable philosophies, of which you just pick the one you like best.

Because of this, any large group of people whose thoughts follow an obvious coordination signal are almost certainly not following the truth; on certain key subjects the truth is ambiguous. On these key nodes, you would expect a characteristic statistical divergence, and like this one, a divergence with noticeable philosophical knock-on effects. There is a good reason academic philosophy is divided into schools.


Anonymous said...

If they're not, then the only way to have physical consciousness is to assume that the problem of consciousness is unsolvable, but the stuff just exists, as all physical stuff just exists.

Not sure how this follows -- I assume this makes use of some of your previous arguments about zombies where you conclude the opposite to what the blog post you talked about?

Alrenous said...

Yes, this previous post.

Though I've been thinking about it some more and I think I've written it down wrong.

Technically the Hard Problem is, even in a dualist philosophy, essentially equivalent to the problem of existence.

Why do we feel stuff? Even if I postulate a second stuff to feel with, it just poses the question of why that stuff can feel but the other stuff can't. And indeed, why does stuff exist at all?

Why something, instead of nothing?

Is something better in some sense? Is it inevitable? Why?

I've realized that I'm content with proving that consciousness isn't physical, because the mystery of existence appears to be timeless. The problem I'm trying to solve is just the problem of consciousness being apparently pointless, and indeed alien to every physical thing we've studied.

There's still a loophole in my proof, though, and it is to put consciousness on the same ontological and epistemological level as existence.

I simply forget how exactly to accomplish this sensibly.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say why is there something rather than nothing is a particularly hard problem for philosophy. Isn't the main point that it's the wrong question and aligns itself with religious thought that assumes everything must have some intrinsic purpose (which in turn presupposes a God to come up with the purpose etc.)?

Over the last few centuries important Why questions have very often replaced with important How questions -- and I'd say this one falls in the same category. But then it becomes more of a question of physics and cosmology.

Alrenous said...

Yes, I meant 'why' as in 'how.'

When I mean 'for what purpose' I use the exact word purpose.

Alrenous said...

That is awesome.

I'd be writing more but I'm currently away from home, as happens.

As far as English, I correctly use 'there' and 'their' and usually don't screw up 'its' and 'it's,' or indeed possessives in general - I like to think that that apostrophe abbreviates Alren's usages from "Alren has usages." Also, I never use 'loose' when I don't mean the opposite of 'tight.' Otherwise I would have loost my grasp on my language...instead of having lost it.

I mention this because many, many people don't.

For some reason, when someone who's mother tongue is English misuses these things, it bothers me. I'm not really sure why, exactly. It's not like I get confused, though it does interrupt the flow of reading.

I do a lot of other things that are nonstandard, however. Sentence fragments, for instance. Big fan. I suspect I'm not entirely good with the semicolon; I just seem to enjoy splicing sentences.

I'm not generally a hugging sort of instead, compassion for all of Portugal's hurts. Pain is pain, regardless of the sources or reasons.

Alrenous said...

I admire those who are kind but it really doesn't come naturally to me. Oof.