On 16 March 2010 20:29, russell standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au> wrote:
> I've been following the thread on Jack's partial brains paper,
> although I've been too busy to comment. I did get a moment to read the
> paper this evening, and I was abruptly stopped by a comment on page 2:
> "On the second hypothesis [Sudden Disappearing Qualia], the
> replacement of a single neuron could be responsible for the vanishing
> of an entire field of conscious experience. This seems antecedently
> implausible, if not entirely bizarre."
> Why? Why isn't it like the straw that broke the camel's back? When
> pulling apart a network, link by link, there will be a link removed
> that causes the network to go from being almost fully connected to
> being disconnected. It need not be the same link each time, it will
> depend on the order in which the links are removed.
> I made a similar criticism against David Parfitt's Napoleon thought
> experiment a couple of years ago on this list - I understand that
> fading qualia is a popular intuition, but it just seems wrong to
> me. Can anyone give me a convincing reason why the suddenly
> disappearing qualia notion is absurd?

Fading qualia would result in a partial zombie, and that concept is
self-contradictory. It means I could be a partial zombie now,
completely blind since waking up this morning, but behaving normally
and unaware that anything unusual had happened. The implications of
this is that zombie vision is just as good as normal vision in every
objective and subjective way, so we may as well say that it is the
same as normal vision. In other words, the qualia can't fade and leave
the behaviour of the brain unchanged.

Chalmers thinks partial zombies are absurd but does not believe that
full zombies are prima facie absurd. Accepting this, it would seem to
be possible that one could suddenly transition from fully conscious to
fully zombified without going through an intermediate stage. For
example, this could happen with the swapping of one neuron. However,
it wouldn't be the neuron that causes the change, it would be an
infinitesimally small part of the neuron. This is because the neuron
itself, like the brain, could be replaced with functionally identical
components. For the same reason that qualia can't fade for the whole
brain, qualia can't fade for the neuron. So the qualia would have to
suddenly disappear with the swapping of one single indivisible
component of the neuron. Are you prepared to say that it is possible
there is a single subatomic particle in your brain which makes the
difference between consciousness and zombiehood?

Stathis Papaioannou

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-l...@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to