Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> 
> 
> On 2/20/07, *Jesse Mazer* <[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
> <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>> wrote:
> 
> 
>      >I would bet on functionalism as the correct theory of mind for various
>      >reasons, but I don't see that there is anything illogical the
>     possibility
>      >that consciousness is substrate-dependent. Let's say that when you
>     rub two
>      >carbon atoms together they have a scratchy experience, whereas
>     when you rub
>      >two silicon atoms together they have a squirmy experience. This
>     could just
>      >be a mundane fact about the universe, no more mysterious than any
>     other
>      >basic physical fact.  What is illogical, however, is the "no
>     causal effect"
>      >criterion if this is called epiphenomenalism. If the effect is
>     purely and
>      >necessarily on first person experience, it's no less an effect; we
>     might
>      >not
>      >notice if the carbon atoms were zombified, but the carbon atoms would
>      >certainly notice. I think it all comes down to the deep-seated and
>     very
>      >obviously wrong idea that only third person empirical data is genuine
>      >empirical data. It is a legitimate concern of science that data
>     should be
>      >verifiable and experiments repeatable, but it's taking it a bit far to
>      >conclude from this that we are therefore all zombies.
>      >
>      >Stathis Papaioannou
> 
>     One major argument against the idea that qualia and/or consciousness
>     could
>     be substrate-dependent is what philosopher David Chalmers refers to
>     as the
>     "dancing qualia" and "fading qualia" arguments, which you can read more
>     about at http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html . As a thought-experiment,
>     imagine gradually replacing neurons in my brain with functionally
>     identical
>     devices whose physical construction was quite different from neurons
>     (silicon chips emulating the input and output of the neurons they
>     replaced,
>     perhaps). If one believes that this substrate is associated with either
>     different qualia or absent qualia, then as one gradually replaces
>     more and
>     more of my brain, they'll either have to be a sudden discontinuous
>     change
>     (and it seems implausible that the replacement of a single neuron would
>     cause such a radical change) or else a gradual shift or fade-out of the
>     qualia my brain experiences...but if I were noticing such a shift or
>     fade-out, I would expect to be able to comment on it, and yet the
>     assumption
>     that the new parts are functionally identical means my behavior
>     should be
>     indistinguishable from what it would be if my neurons were left
>     alone. And
>     if we suppose that I might be having panicked thoughts about a
>     change in my
>     perceptions yet find that my voice and body are acting as if nothing is
>     wrong, and there is no neural activity associated with these panicked
>     thoughts, then there would have to be a radical disconnect between
>     subjective experiences and physical activity in my brain, which would
>     contradict the assumption of supervenience (see
>     http://philosophy.uwaterloo.ca/MindDict/supervenience.html ) and
>     lead to the
>     possibility of radical mind/body disconnects like rocks and trees
>     having
>     complex thoughts and experiences that have nothing to do with any
>     physical
>     activity within them.
> 
>     Jesse
> 
> 
>  It's a persuasive argument, but I can think of a mechanism whereby your 
> qualia can fade away and you wouldn't notice. In some cases of cortical 
> blindness, in which the visual cortex is damaged but the rest of the 
> visual pathways intact, patients insist that they are not blind and come 
> up with explanations as to why they fall over and walk into things, eg. 
> they accuse people of putting obstacles in their way while their back is 
> turned. This isn't just denial because it is specific to cortical 
> lesions, not blindness due to other reasons. If these patients had 
> advanced cyborg implants they could presumably convince the world, and 
> be convinced themselves, that their visual perception had not suffered 
> when in fact they can't see a thing. Perhaps gradual cyborgisation of 
> the brain as per Hans Moravec would lead to a similar, gradual fading of 
> thoughts and perceptions; the external observer would not notice any 
> change and the subject would not notice any change either, until he was 
> dead, replaced by a zombie.
> 
> Stathis Papaioannou

An interesting example.  Are these people completely blind?  Do they describe 
seeing things?

Brent Meeker

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