Philosophical Zombies

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
anarchyisbliss
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Post by anarchyisbliss » March 1st, 2008, 2:34 pm

the question is how do we know that other people aren't just mindless zombies? Well if we were mindless zombies but we saw ourselves as conscious beings wouldn't the definition of consciousness mean someone who acts like a mindless zombie?
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles." - George Orwell, 1984

Simian
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Post by Simian » March 1st, 2008, 10:07 pm

Actually, I remember reading about a philosopher who thought just that. I can't provide a decent reference or even remember his name but he thought something along these lines:

(1) An individual who was conscious would be indistinguishable from one who mistakenly believed he was conscious, even to the individual himself.
(2) Consciousness is unexplained and perhaps unexplainable. False beliefs have been studied in detail and are easier to explain.
(3) Since it is easier to explain the person's behaviour in terms of the mistaken belief that he is conscious, this is the more likely scenario.

So perhaps zombiism is the answer. I don't think so but it's an interesting argument.

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Post by luciditee » March 2nd, 2008, 10:56 am

At present, I do not feel that any living being can be classed as a zombie. I would say that there is even some form of interiority to bacteria, or other single celled organisms. I lean towards consciousness and life as being inseparable, involving a base level of unvarying pure awareness being shared by all lifeforms, but with a progressive and diverse experience, and functioning, in relation to this consciousness corresponding to evolved characteristics.
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Re: Philosophical Zombies

Post by Baekho » March 14th, 2008, 7:18 pm

cynicallyinsane wrote:How do we know that other people are actually conscious? How do we know that they aren't just mindless zombies who behave like they are conscious?


We infer that they are from our own experience as conscious beings that they are also conscious. Yes, there is no way to "prove" that, but Pyrrhonism is an inherently unpractical way of going through the world. If we can't trust our own experience, we can't trust anything, and all discourse becomes impossible. Personally, I'd like to continue this and other conversations so I'm perfectly comfortable accepting your consciousness. ;)

The question of "zombies" is one of the key questions in the entrenched "mind-body debate". Some philosophers, like Daniel Dennet, deny that the idea of the zombie is coherent at all. According to strong physicalists, mind is basically reducible to matter. Therefore a zombie whose physicality matached that of a conscious human being would be, in point of fact, conscious.

Non-physicalists, however, or those who feel that mind is not simply reducible to physical states, claim that the very possibility of the zombie scenario proves that mind can't be reducible to matter.

This is closely related to the question of whether a machine could think (and how would we know, anyway?). Searle's "Chinese Room" experiment is basically arguing that a system can give the appearance of thought without actually thinking---essentially such a computer is just a "zombie" and not conscious.

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Post by Scott » March 15th, 2008, 7:36 am

As a physicalist, I think the "mindless zombie" question is probably the best argument against dualism.

For a physicalist, the fact that other beings are conscious is physically verifiable because consciousness considered to be a physical phenomenon. I believe that I know other people are conscious in the same way I know that my computer computes.

The fact that a philosophical zombie would be the same in all observable respects as a mindful person is why I believe mindfulness is physical. And that explains away philosophical zombies because if a so-called "zombie" has all the physical characteristics of mindfulness than it truly mindful.
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tez
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zombies

Post by tez » June 9th, 2008, 12:06 pm

ive read the postings on this interesting subject, but found the quality to be, at best, infantile. profound questions dealt with in an off the cuff comic book fashion. this kind of discussion reqires an iq that you can only dream of.

tez
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zombies

Post by tez » June 9th, 2008, 12:35 pm

zombies are not mindless. the zombie mind allows it to fuction in such a way that its actions are indistinguishable from the actions of any human being. the idea is that there minds are pre -programmed. they are able exist without thinking. they simply respond to any stimulus according to a comprehensive set of rules conditions.

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Post by pjkeeley » June 10th, 2008, 4:10 am

tez wrote:this kind of discussion reqires an iq that you can only dream of.

And yet you're the one who's posting entirely in lowercase.

tez wrote:ive read the postings on this interesting subject, but found the quality to be, at best, infantile.

If you don't like it go to another forum. Calling people infantile isn't contributing anything.

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philosophical zombies

Post by tez » June 10th, 2008, 5:26 am

because zombie minds are pre -programmed, they are able function without thinking. they simply respond to any stimulus according to a comprehensive set of rules and conditions in their data store. zombie personalities cover the whole spectrum of personality. what they do or say will not give away the fact that they are zombies
there is, however, an inate weakness in the zombie programming, because of its mechanical format. this enables us to test whether an entity is zombie, or concious.
take a particular case like colour. we know that colour allows us to more easily identify and position objects in our field of vision. a conscious entity knows that colours are colours, and how to use colours to understand the visual world more easily. a zombie does not have this background information. if a zombie is asked a question such as, what is your favourite colour?, its data base will provide an answer from a list of colours and it will give an immediate reply. it cannot think that colours are colours and that it would be nonsense to favour one over another. the zombie will have given himself away without realising it.

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Re: philosophical zombies

Post by anarchyisbliss » June 10th, 2008, 8:52 am

tez wrote:because zombie minds are pre -programmed, they are able function without thinking. they simply respond to any stimulus according to a comprehensive set of rules and conditions in their data store. zombie personalities cover the whole spectrum of personality. what they do or say will not give away the fact that they are zombies
there is, however, an inate weakness in the zombie programming, because of its mechanical format. this enables us to test whether an entity is zombie, or concious.
take a particular case like colour. we know that colour allows us to more easily identify and position objects in our field of vision. a conscious entity knows that colours are colours, and how to use colours to understand the visual world more easily. a zombie does not have this background information. if a zombie is asked a question such as, what is your favourite colour?, its data base will provide an answer from a list of colours and it will give an immediate reply. it cannot think that colours are colours and that it would be nonsense to favour one over another. the zombie will have given himself away without realising it.


This thread is not about real zombies, it's about how we can tell whether or not we are conscious. Your posts are good but just slightly off topic. You're talking about the mind of a zombie whereas we are talking about how can we tell if something is a zombie, but thanks for your contribution to the definition of zombie :D
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles." - George Orwell, 1984

tez
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Post by tez » June 10th, 2008, 2:12 pm

This thread is not about real zombies, it's about how we can tell whether or not we are conscious. Your posts are good but just slightly off topic. You're talking about the mind of a zombie whereas we are talking about how can we tell if something is a zombie, but thanks for your contribution to the definition of zombie


the concept of zombies is a made up thing. you cant have a real zombie. the zombies under discussion in this thread are a philosophical constuction. do you understand? probably not. i have made a clear demonstration of how you can tell if an apparently fellow being is a philosophical zombie. simply ask a friend what is their favourite colour. if they answer straight away with the name of a colour you can be certain that you are talking to a zombie. they wont believe it of course,they are programmed to consider themselves human.

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Post by anarchyisbliss » June 10th, 2008, 4:58 pm

the zombies under discussion in this thread are a philosophical constuction. do you understand? probably not.


Actually , yes, and it might help your cause if you were less condescending. Just a suggestion.
"If there is hope, it lies in the proles." - George Orwell, 1984

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Post by TripleBla » July 1st, 2008, 11:01 pm

I found a good way to test the conciousness of an individual.

A one on one Instant messaging conversation about faith. See how far you can crack' em open.

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Post by Belinda » July 27th, 2008, 9:40 am

Not only do you not know that other people are conscious, you don't know that they exist except in your own mind.This is a question for epistemology i.e. the study of how we can know anything, or indeed if we can know anything.

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Post by Belinda » July 27th, 2008, 9:50 am

Physicalist (at one time called 'materialist'), or idealist (sometimes, especially in the US,called immaterialist) is a choice of what you prefer to believe.Some people prefer to believe that reality is all made up by minds. Others like Scott(if I understand you correctly Scott) prefer to believe that reality is 'out there'i.e. not all in the mind.

Ultimately and by 'ultimately' I mean if you are entirely sceptical you don't know for sure which is the correct stance- the idealist stance or the physicalist stance.

The only philosopher I know of who makes both of these philosophical stances mutually compatible is Spinoza who claimed that mind and body are different and compatible aspects of reality The dual aspect theory of Spinoza, the idealist theory and the physicalist theory are all sometimes referred to as theories of existence

The theory of existence that the theistic religions depend on is the dualist theory which includes that there is both mind stuff and material stuff.NB the dualist theory is markedly different from the dual aspect theory, and has very different practical issues .

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