Re: What if qualia

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Tue Jul 24 2001 - 22:11:39 MDT

At 03:46 AM 7/24/01 -0400, Emil Gilliam wrote:

>I vaguely suspect you were trying to make some sort of point here,
>but it got lost under the cuteness. But because I do have some sense
>of humor, onto my office door it goes. :>

Emil, I'm glad you weren't offended. Yes, I was making a serious point--not
just trying to make one, either :). It's roughly the same point made by Ian
Stewart and Jack Cohen in their interesting book FIGMENTS OF REALITY: The
evolution of the Curious Mind, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Summarizing in my book THE LAST MORTAL GENERATION:

One can imagine a world of zombies, [Chalmers] asserts, just like ours but
lacking consciousness. The brains of these zombies mimic ours precisely,
but there's no light on inside. They act and speak and laugh and `love',
but are mere automatons. Since this nightmare is logically possible,
Chalmers says, consciousness must be something over and above mere neural
structure in action.
        What is it, then? Information, he concludes. Not an answer to give the
faithful any comfort, admittedly. Chalmers believes a complex artificial
intelligence system would be conscious. So he is not proposing to
reinstate an immaterial soul. He puts it neatly: `Experience is
information from the inside; physics is information from the outside.'
Inside what, though? Inside the mind, with the qualia. But that leaves us
where we came in. Besides, I would argue that we cannot truly imagine a
zombie world, any more than we can truly imagine a world exactly like ours,
full of jittering molecules but without heat. Stewart and Cohen provide an
amusing analogy to support this suspicion. Imagine a zombike, they
suggest, `which is exactly like a bicycle in every way except that it does
not move when the pedals are pushed. Oh, mystic miracle of ineffable
immateriality, the source of motion in a bicycle is not anything
physical!'2 The zombie analogy, at root, is no more persuasive nor even



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