Hi Craig Weinberg  

According to Leibniz (and common sense) the monads or "souls" of rocks do not 
intelligence or feeling and are thus called "bare naked monads."  
These should be much different from the monads of humans, which contain 
intelligence and feelings and are true souls (Leibniz however 
refers to human souls as spirits). 

Roger Clough, rclo...@verizon.net 
"Forever is a long time, especially near the end." 
Woody Allan 

----- Receiving the following content -----  
From: Craig Weinberg  
Receiver: everything-list  
Time: 2012-09-17, 16:39:12 
Subject: Re: Zombieopolis Thought Experiment 

On Monday, September 17, 2012 9:24:23 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote: 

On Sep 16, 2012, at 10:42 PM, Craig Weinberg  wrote: 

Moreover, this  
set has subsets, and we can limit our discussion to these subsets. For  
example, if we are interested only in mass, we can simulate a human  
perfectly using the right number of rocks. Even someone who believes  
in an immortal soul would agree with this.  

No, I don't agree with it at all. You are eating the menu. A quantity of mass 
doesn't simulate anything except in your mind. Mass is a normative abstraction 
which we apply in comparing physical bodies with each other. To reduce a human 
being to a physical body is not a simulation is it only weighing a bag of 
organic molecules. 

I'm just saying that the mass of the human and the mass of the rocks is the 
same, not that the rocks and the human are the same. They share a property, 
which manifests as identical behaviour when they are put on scales. What's 
controversial about that? 

It isn't controversial, but I am suggesting that maybe it should be. It isn't 
that there is an independent and disembodied 'property' that human body and the 
rocks share, it is that we measure them in a way which allows us to categorize 
one's behavior as similar to another in a particular way.  

Think of the fabric of the universe being like an optical illusion where colors 
change when they are adjacent to each other but not if they are against grey. 
There is no abstract property being manifested as concrete experiences, only 
concrete experiences can be re-presented as abstract properties. 

Yes, but there are properties of the brain that may not be relevant to  
behaviour. Which properties are in fact important is determined by  
experiment. For example, we may replace the myelin sheath with a  
synthetic material that has similar electrical properties and then  
test an isolated nerve to see if action potentials propagate in the  
same way. If they do, then the next step is to incorporate the nerve  
in a network and see if the pattern of firing in the network looks  
normal. The step after that is to replace the myelin in the brain of a  
rat to see if the animal's behaviour changes. The modified rats are  
compared to unmodified rats by a blinded researcher to see if he can  
tell the difference. If no-one can consistently tell the difference  
then it is announced that the synthetic myelin appears to be a  
functionally identical substitute for natural myelin.  

Except it isn't identical. No imitation substance is identical to the original. 
Sooner or later the limits of the imitation will be found - or they could be 
advantages. Maybe the imitation myelin prevents brain cancer or heat stroke or 
something, but it also maybe prevents sensation in cold weather or maybe 
certain amino acids now cause Parkinson's disease. There is no such thing as 
identical. There is only 'seems identical from this measure at this time'. 

Yes, it's not *identical*. No-one has claimed this. And since it's not 
identical, under some possible test it would behave differently; otherwise it 
would be identical.  

Not in the case of consciousness. There is no reason to believe that it is 
possible to test quality of consciousness. What might seem identical to a child 
may be completely dysfunctional as an adolescent - or it might be that tests 
done in a laboratory fail to reveal real world defects. We have no reason to 
believe that it is possible for consciousness to be anything other than 
completely unique and maybe even tied to the place and time of its 

But there are some changes which make no functional difference. 

Absolutely, but consciousness is not necessarily a function, and function is 
subject to the form of measurement and interpretation applied. 

If l have a drink of water, that changes my brain by decreasing the sodium 
concentration. But this change is not significant if we are considering whether 
I continue to manifest normal human behaviour, since firstly the brain is 
tolerant of moderate physical changes  

But a few milligrams of LSD or ricin (LD100 of 25 ?/kg) will have a 
catastrophic effect on normal human capacities, so that the brain's tolerance 
has nothing to do with how moderate the physical changes are. That's a blanket 
generalization that doesn't pan out. It's folk neuroscience. 
and secondly people can manifest a range of different behaviours and remain 
recognisably human and recognisably the same human. In other words humans have 
certain engineering tolerances in their components, and the aim in replacing 
components would be to do it within this tolerance. Perfection is not 
attainable by either engineers or nature. 

Engineering may not be applicable to consciousness though. There is tolerance 
for the extension of consciousness - if you injure your spine, we could 
engineer a new segment, just like we could replace your leg with a prosthetic, 
but there is not necessarily a replacement for the self as a whole. A 
prosthetic head that doesn't replace the person is not necessarily a 
possibility. You assume that a person is a structure with interchangeable 
parts. I think it is an experience which is inherently irreducible and 

As is the nature  
of science, another team of researchers may then find some deficit in  
the behaviour of the modified rats under conditions the first team did  
not examine. Scientists then make modifications to the formula of the  
synthetic myelin and do the experiments again.  

Which is great for medicine (although ultimately maybe unsustainably 
expensive), but it has nothing to do with the assumption of identical structure 
and the hard problem of consciousness. There is no such thing as identical 
experience. I have suggested that in fact we can perhaps define consciousness 
as that which has never been repeated. It is the antithesis of that which can 
be repeated, (hence the experience of "now"), even though experiences 
themselves can seem very repetitive. The only seem so from the vantage point of 
a completely novel moment of consideration of the memories of previous 

Here is where you have misunderstood the whole aim of the thought experiment in 
the paper you have cited. The paper assumes that identical function does *not* 
necessarily result in identical consciousness and follows this idea to see 
where it leads. 

I understand that, but it still assumes that there is a such thing as a set of 
functions which could be identified and reproduced that cause consciousness. I 
don't assume that, because consciousness isn't like anything else. It is the 
source of all functions and appearances, not the effect of them. Once you have 
consciousness in the universe, then it can be enhanced and altered in infinite 
ways, but none of them can replace the experience that is your own. 

> This is the point of the thought experiment. The limitations of all forms of  
> measurement and perception preclude all possibility of there ever being a  
> such thing as an exhaustively complete set of third person behaviors of any  
> system.  
> What is it that you don't think I understand?  

What you don't understand is that an exhaustively complete set of  
behaviours is not required.  

Yes, it is. Not for prosthetic enhancements, or repairs to a nervous system, 
but to replace a nervous system without replacing the person who is using it, 
yes, there is no set of behaviors which can ever be exhaustive enough in theory 
to accomplish that. You might be able to do it biologically, but there is no 
reason to trust it unless and until someone can be walked off of their brain 
for a few weeks or months and then walked back on. 

The replacement components need only be within the engineering tolerance of the 
nervous system components. This is a difficult task but it is achievable in 

You assume that consciousness can be replaced, but I understand exactly why it 
can't. You can believe that there is no difference between scooping out your 
brain stem and replacing it with a functional equivalent as long as it was well 
engineered, but to me it's a completely misguided notion. Consciousness doesn't 
exist on the outside of us. Engineering only deals with exteriors. If the 
universe were designed by engineers, there could be no consciousness. 

I don't access an exhaustively complete  
set of behaviours to determine if my friends are the same people from  
day to day, and in fact they are *not* the same systems from day to  
day, as they change both physically and psychologically. I have in  
mind a rather vague set of behavioural behavioural limits and if the  
people who I think are my friends deviate significantly from these  
limits I will start to worry.  

Which is exactly why you would not want to replace your friends with devices 
capable only of programmed deviations. Are simulated friends 'good enough'. 
Will it be good enough when your friends convince you to be replaced by your 

I assume that my friends have not been replaced by robots. If they have been 
then that means the robots can almost perfectly replicate their behaviour, 
since I (and people in general) am very good at picking up even tiny deviations 
from normal behaviour. The question then is, if the function of a human can be 
replicated this closely by a machine does that mean the consciousness can also 
be replicated? The answer is yes, since otherwise we would have the possibility 
of a person having radically different experiences but behaving normally and 
being unaware that their experiences were different. 

The answer is no. A cartoon of Bugs Bunny has no experiences but behaves just 
like Bugs Bunny would if he had experiences. You are eating the menu. 


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

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

Reply via email to