Rex Allen wrote:
On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 1:07 PM, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
The only rationale for adducing the additional
existence of any 1-p experience in a 3-p world is the raw fact that we
possess it (or "seem" to, according to some). We can't "compute" the
existence of any 1-p experiential component of a 3-p process on purely
It seems to me that what we know is our subjective conscious
experience. From this, we infer the existence of ourselves as
individuals who persist through time, as well as the independent
existence of an external world that in some way causes our conscious
So we know 1-p directly, while we only infer the existence of 3-p.
However, you seem to start from the assumption that 1-p is in the
weaker subordinate position of needing to be explained "in terms of"
3-p, while 3-p is implicitly taken to be unproblematic, fundamental,
and needing no explanation. But why is that? The physical world
doesn't explain it's own existence and nature, does it? So what
caused it? What explains it's initial state? Why does it have it's
current state? Why does it change in time the way that it does?
If we're taking the existence and nature of things as a "given", why
can't we instead say that 1-p is fundamental? What is lost? What
makes this an unpalatable option? It seems to me that it should
certainly be the default position.
I think it's fruitless to argue about which is "fundamental". Obviously
we have direct 1-p experience; but also that there are differences
between persons. So if we concentrate on the intersubjective agreement
between different 1-p reports we find that we can make some successful
predictive models of that 3-p world. At one time there was an
assumption that the 3-p world could be modeled as a lot of agents, i.e.
beings with 1-p experiences. But that turned out be an impediment and
it worked better to model the 3-p world as impersonal and mathematical.
So naturally one attractive strategy is to keep pushing what has worked
in the past. There's no reason not to try taking 1-p experiences as the
basis of your ontology, the positivists tried to put physics on that
basis, but so far it seems the way to make progress has been to treat
1-p as basic but fallible and quickly move to an external reality that
is more consistent.
I like Philip Goff's idea of "Ghosts" as an alternative to Chalmers'
First, from the introduction:
"Zombies are bodies without minds: creatures that are physically
identical to actual human beings, but which have no conscious
experience. Much of the consciousness literature concerns how
threatening philosophical reflection on such creatures is to
physicalism. There is not much attention given to the converse
possibility, the possibility of minds without bodies, that is,
creatures who are conscious but whose nature is exhausted by their
being conscious. We can call such a ‘purely conscious’ creature a
Then on page 7:
"The way into imagining your ghost twin is to go through the familiar
Cartesian process of doubting everything that it is possible to doubt.
For all you know for sure, the physical world around you might be a
delusion, placed in you by an incredibly powerful evil demon. The arms
and legs you seem to see in front of you, the heart you seem to feel
beating beneath your breast, your body that feels solid and warm to
the touch, all may be figments of a particularly powerful delusion.
You might not even have a brain.
The only state of affairs you know for certain to obtain is that you
exist as a thing such that there is something that it is like to be
that thing. You know for certain that you are a thing that has an
experience as of having arms and legs, a beating heart, a warm, solid
body. You know that you are a subject of experience. But you may not
be a creature that exists in space, or has physical parts. It is by
engaging in the process of Cartesian doubting that one arrives at a
conception of one’s ghost twin.
I am not suggesting that the process of Cartesian doubting
demonstrates the possibility of ghosts, but I am suggesting that it
goes a good way to demonstrating their conceivability. To entertain
the possibility that I am the only thing that exists, and that I exist
as a thing with no properties other than my conscious experience, just
is to conceive of my ghost twin. Any philosopher who agrees with
Descartes up to and including the Cogito has a strong prima facie
obligation to accept the conceivability of ghosts."
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