Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

curiousone comments on Zombies! Zombies? - Less Wrong

47 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 April 2008 09:55AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (130)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: curiousone 06 July 2017 10:57:00AM *  0 points [-]

The said Chalmersian theory postulates multiple unexplained complex miracles. This drives down its prior probability, by the conjunction rule of probability and Occam's Razor. It is therefore dominated by at least two theories which postulate fewer miracles, namely:

Substance dualism: There is a stuff of consciousness which is not yet understood, an extraordinary super-physical stuff that visibly affects our world; and this stuff is what makes us talk about consciousness.

Not-quite-faith-based reductionism: That-which-we-name "consciousness" happens within physics, in a way not yet understood, just like what happened the last three thousand times humanity ran into something mysterious. Your intuition that no material substance can possibly add up to consciousness is incorrect. If you actually knew exactly why you talk about consciousness, this would give you new insights, of a form you can't now anticipate; and afterward you would realize that your arguments about normal physics having no room for consciousness were flawed.

The second theorie seems odd to me. Since it seems to postulate a solution that will happen in the future, of which we have no possible knowledge right now. And therefore any counter argument (like the mentioned intuition) fails, because as soon as the solution is revealed, of course all that opposes it is proven flawed.

Which means that this position is quite bullet proof. Anything opposing it is automatically wrong, we just need to wait until we can see that for ourselves. I have a slight unwillingness to follow that instruction.

But okay: What gives the permission to put such an amount of trust into the field of physics? Mentioned is that this situation happened "three thousand times" before: That people would see no solution (or rather wrong solutions) until physics cleared the case. That is true enough to me. But does it give the possibility to anticipate it happening in the future? On a topic that has not been cleared three thousand times before by physics?

But as we can see in the quote, the arguments against "normal physics" being incapable of the solution are invalid - will be proven invalid - too! For the then "new" physics must be of a completely new structure. Which cannot be anticipated now as well.

I can see how this argument is perfectly bullet proof. But I still don't trust it, and that's because it's so bulletproof. With this structure of "It will be proven in the future!" I can make anything bullet proof.

So: Does our case have any special properties so that it is more fit than "anything" to be made bullet proof? The only possibility I see would be: "It is more propable to be true". This "three thousand times"-sentence is a way to make it look propable. So we are now looking at the question if we rate the solution of the problem of consciousness through physics in the future more propable than - for example - the also mentioned substance dualism. Now how could we get any useful measurement on the propability of something we have not the slightest amount of knowledge about? If it was, as proposed, the fact that physics cleared not understood cases before, that would also count for any other well working and developed system such as psychology, philosophy, biology, mathmatics, etc. We could claim the soon-to-be-there-solution for any theorie claiming to be close to it.

Therefore it doesn't seem to be a useful theory to me. When it's appliable to more or less anything, how can we know where it is applied correctly? All I can see in this case is the intuition that material substance can possibly add up to consciousness. And why would this intuition be more reliable than the one opposing it?