On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 3:32 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> Suppose a teacher is in front of his classroom answering questions of the
> student.
> Then at time t, his brain stops completely to function, but a cosmic
> explosion, happening ten years before, sent, by pure chance, a flux of
> cosmic rays which supplies correctly the inputs to its muscle (but NOT
> inside its brain), so that his behavior remains unchanged for the time of
> the student lesson. Then he dies.
> Was the guy a zombie?

If the cosmic rays do not lead to a partial zombie when part of the
brain is replaced, they will not result in a full zombie if the rest
of the brain is replaced in a similar way. It's no different if it's
the cosmic rays or a computer animating the muscles.

> Imagine that the student don't ask any question. Then the cosmic rays needs
> only to make it looks just quiet behind its desk. No neurons works at all,
> and the cosmic rays supplies very little information in its cerebral stem so
> that he does not fall. Is the guy a zombie?

Yes, but he could be unconscious and propped up at his desk with a
normal brain as well.

> I would say it is. But now, the very fact that I do not think that a partial
> zombie is possible makes me abandon the idea that consciousness is related
> to the physical activity of the brain. The consciousness of the guy
> supervenes on all computations (in a continuum of digital computations (as
> viewed from inside from a first person perspective). It does not supervene
> on a physical body, because a physical body does not exist, it is only part
> of coherent mind projections.
> In a sense, we, as we see ourselves as bodies, *are* zombies (total zombie).
> But this is misleading, because this makes sense only when we understand
> that the bodies are already creation of the mind, in the way computer
> science can explain with the UD  (the sigma_1 sentences), and the
> self-reference logics.
>> Could you be a partial zombie now; for example, could
>> you be blind or unable to understand language but just not realise it?
> I could suffer an agnosologia which makes me blind and amnesic on anything
> related to vision, so that personally I don't see the difference. But I will
> have to infer that there is some kind of problem about finding objects and
> walking without bumping into the furniture. But in that case I would not say
> that I am a partial zombie. I am fully conscious, but handicapped and
> amnesic. I don't believe the notion partial zombie make sense in the
> absolute.

There is in fact a condition called Anton's Syndrome where some
patients with lesions in their occipital cortex are blind but
insightless into their condition. They walk around into things and
confabulate as to why this happens. However, this is unlike a partial
zombie since for a start behaviour is different.

> Total zombie can make sense, in a partial sense different from above, like a
> fake policeman on the road, which behave like a policeman in the eyes of the
> drivers, but has presumably no consciousness.
>> Incidentally, I don't understand why philosophers and contributors to
>> this list are affronted by the idea that a random device or a
>> recording could sustain consciousness. There seems to be no logical
>> contradiction or empirical problem with the idea, but people just
>> don't like it.
> With comp consciousness is associated with a computation, and then with an
> infinity of them. Something random can only be a first person geographical
> or contingent type of experience, like in the iteration of the WM
> duplications. So indeed, I think it does not make sense to attribute neither
> consciousness, nor even a computation to something random.The comp idea is
> that a computation makes sense, and, for animals, reflects some
> self-referential abilities needed for surviving.
> If a random device generates by chance a correct computation, you might or
> not attribute to it consciousness, because, in *all* cases, the
> consciousness itself is related to infinities of computation in the tiny
> sigma_1 complete platonia.
> I would not attribute consciousness to the teacher above, because the rays
> does not even emulate its brain, just a minimal number of inputs. If I
> attribute him consciousness, then I can attribute Einstein's or anyone's
> consciousness to a thermostat, and all supervenience theses (the phys or
> comp one) get trivial. You would not say "yes" to a doctor who proposes to
> substitute your brain for a thermostat, all right?

The thermostat can't talk, for a start.

In order for your theory to go through, functionalism has to be true.
The only proof of functionalism that I am aware of is the Chalmers
fading qualia argument. But that argument goes through for any brain
component no matter its mechanism of action - computation, random or

Stathis Papaioannou

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