I'm quite confused about the state of zombieness. If the requirement
for zombiehood is that it doesn't understand anything at all but it
behaves as if it does what makes us not zombies? How do we not we are
not? But more importantly, are there known cases of zombies? Perhaps a
silly question because it might be just a thought experiment but if
so, I wonder on what evidence one is so freely speaking about,
specially when connected to cognition for which we now (should) know
more. The questions seem related because either we don't know whether
we are zombies or one can solve the problem of zombie identification.
I guess I'm new in the zombieness business.

But leaving the zombie definition and identification apart, I think
current science would/should see no difference between consciousness
and cognition, the former is an emergent property of the latter, and
just as there are levels of cognition there are levels of
consciousness. Between the human being and other animals there is a
wide gradation of levels, it is not that any other animal lacks of
'qualia'. Perhaps there is an upper level defined by computational
limits and as such once reached that limit one just remains there, but
consciousness seems to depend on the complexity of the brain (size,
convolutions or whatever provides the full power) but not disconnected
to cognition. In this view only damaging the cognitive capacities of a
person would damage its 'qualia', while its 'qualia' could not get
damaged but by damaging the brain which will likewise damage the
cognitive capabilities. In other words, there seems to be no
cognition/consciousness duality as long as there is no brain/mind one.
The use of the term 'qualia' here looks like a remake of the mind/body
problem.


On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:34 AM, Stathis Papaioannou
<stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 17 March 2010 05:29, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>
>> I think this is a dubious argument based on our lack of understanding of
>> qualia.  Presumably one has many thoughts that do not result in any overt
>> action.  So if I lost a few neurons (which I do continuously) it might mean
>> that there are some thoughts I don't have or some associations I don't make,
>> so eventually I may "fade" to the level of consciousness of my dog.  Is my
>> dog a "partial zombie"?
>
> It's certainly possible that qualia can fade without the subject
> noticing, either because the change is slow and gradual or because the
> change fortuitously causes a cognitive deficit as well. But this not
> what the fading qualia argument is about. The argument requires
> consideration of a brain change which would cause an unequivocal
> change in consciousness, such as a removal of the subject's occipital
> lobes. If this happened, the subject would go completely blind: he
> would be unable to describe anything placed in front of his eyes, and
> he would report that he could not see anything at all. That's what it
> means to go blind. But now consider the case where the occipital lobes
> are replaced with a black box that reproduces the I/O behaviour of the
> occipital lobes, but which is postulated to lack visual qualia. The
> rest of the subject's brain is intact and is forced to behave exactly
> as it would if the change had not been made, since it is receiving
> normal inputs from the black box. So the subject will correctly
> describe anything placed in front of him, and he will report that
> everything looks perfectly normal. More than that, he will have an
> appropriate emotional response to what he sees, be able to paint it or
> write poetry about it, make a working model of it from an image he
> retains in his mind: whatever he would normally do if he saw
> something. And yet, he would be a partial zombie: he would behave
> exactly as if he had normal visual qualia while completely lacking
> visual qualia. Now it is part of the definition of a full zombie that
> it doesn't understand that it is blind, since a requirement for
> zombiehood is that it doesn't understand anything at all, it just
> behaves as if it does. But if the idea of qualia is meaningful at all,
> you would think that a sudden drastic change like going blind should
> produce some realisation in a cognitively intact subject; otherwise
> how do we know that we aren't blind now, and what reason would we have
> to prefer normal vision to zombie vision? The conclusion is that it
> isn't possible to make a device that replicates brain function but
> lacks qualia: either it is not possible to make such a device at all
> because the brain is not computable, or if such a device could be made
> (even a magical one) then it would necessarily reproduce the qualia as
> well.
>
>> I think the question of whether there could be a philosophical zombie is ill
>> posed because we don't know what is responsible for qualia.  I speculate
>> that they are tags of importance or value that get attached to perceptions
>> so that they are stored in short term memory.  Then, because evolution
>> cannot redesign things, the same tags are used for internal thoughts that
>> seem important enough to put in memory.  If this is the case then it might
>> be possible to design a robot which used a different method of evaluating
>> experience for storage and it would not have qualia like humans - but would
>> it have some other kind of qualia?  Since we don't know what qualia are in a
>> third person sense there seems to be no way to answer that.
>
>
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
>
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