#3724871, By Steviebdotnet Zombies; fact or fiction?

  • Steviebdotnet 5 Sep 2008 12:21:09 21 posts
    Seen 6 years ago
    Registered 6 years ago
    I decided seeing as this is my second post, I may as well make it awesome, it encompasses two awesome things.

    Zombies and a good debate; So get your head around this lot, will be interesting to discuss any points to the contrary although I fear this will turn into a spakka fest of gargantuan proportsions! :D

    It is my position that the existence of zombies is possible. Before I go any further, I just want to define the term "zombie," as it is not being used in a conventional sense here.

    In my view a zombie is a being that behaves like us and may share our functional organization and even, perhaps, our neuropsychological makeup without conscious experiences or qualia.

    In order to show the possibility of a zombie, I will attempt to provide a consistent model for the relationship between consciousness and the human body (along with human behaviour) that allows for the existence of the human body and its behaviour without consciousness, or experience of qualia. Essentially, I am equating logical consistency (as well as non-contradiction of scientific facts) with possibility.

    First, we all can agree on the difference between redness and electrical signals in the brain. That entity which experiences redness (qualia) and not electrical signals in the brain is the consciousness. The experience of redness by the consciousness may be caused by the electrical signals in the brain and the eyes detection of electromagnetic radiation of a certain wavelength, but the two are not one and the same. This distinction is important.

    It is also key to notice that the perception of redness is not material like the electrical signals in the brain. The image of the computer and desk in front of you is not any type of matter or energy we know of, although the brain and the electrical signals in the brain are matter and energy that we know of. Therefore, the existence of the brain does not immediately necessitate the existence of the consciousness; they are of differing nature and it remains to be shown that consciousness necessarily follows from the brain.

    Clearly, my argument is that it is possible that the consciousness is not necessarily implied by the brain. That a brain can be a functioning one without giving rise to some consciousness. Again, please note that we are regarding consciousness as not simply some sort of self-awareness, but something that experiences qualia, qualia themselves being something different than the matter and energy said to give rise to them. The consciousness is an independent entity, an observer, and the brain only creates qualia if it has an associated conscious entity to perceive them. That is that the consciousness is necessary for the brain to create qualia, but the consciousness is not something that necessarily follows from the existence of the brain. The brain is sufficiently complex for us to admit the possibility that consciousness has origins other than the brain.

    Essentially, this is not far from a solipsistic or sceptic position, one that suggests that we can't be certain of the existence of other minds, and that we might be the only conscious entities surrounded by beings who appear to behave as we do, consciously, but are really just very complex machines of some sort in fact, the correct term would be zombies. Of course, this is not necessarily the most appealing or useful position, but the solipsist's position is a possible one, and that is all that I expect one to accept.

    Now, we still need to tackle the question of behaviour. Can humans behave as they do without consciousness? Is the brain alone capable of emotion, appreciation of beauty, apparent unpredictability, and all the other things we normally ascribe to conscious action? I feel it is safe to say that this is indeed possible at very least, if not the fact. More and more, scientific studies are showing how much of our behaviour can be reduced to mental processes. We can indeed propose a consistent hypothesis that the brain is an incredibly complex machine which takes all sorts of input: visual, speech, ideas, values, emotions, etc, and returns with a seemingly conscious response. Again, I feel safe in saying that it is possible to explain human behaviour through mental processes without the intervention of a conscious entity.

    In concluding my opening argument, I would simply like to summarise that it is indeed possible that the brain doesn't necessarily cause consciousness to arise, and that human action and behaviour can all be said to be results of the incredibly complex workings of the brain, and so it is indeed possible for zombies to exist.

    Discuss
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