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Lecture 3

PHL105Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Thought Experiment, Abet, Physicalism


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL105Y5
Professor
Diana Raffman
Lecture
3

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**Summary: Nagel (What is it like to be a bat?)
The fact that an organism has a conscious proves that there is something *like* to be that
organism. In order to demonstrate the connection between subjectivity and point of view,
Nagel attempt a thought experiment.
1. We assume that bats have experience. Nagel chose a bat because while it is still a
mammal, it performs a range of activities and sensory apparatus so different from ours.
2. The essence of the belief that bats have experience is that there is something that it is
like to be a bat.
3. Their brains are designed to correlate the outgoing impulses with the subsequent
echoes, and the information thus acquired enables bats to make a precise
discriminations of distance, size, etc. It is safe to say that there is nothing in our human
experience that we could subjectively say is like to operate as a bat.
4. Even if there was a way to try functioning the way bat functions, we still would not
know what it is *like* to be a bat.
5. Even if we could gradually evolve into a bat, we still would not know what it is *like* to
be a bat because, in that case, we would lose our consciousness and imagination.
Thus, we would just be bats.
What can we conclude from this thought experiment?
1. We cannot deny physicalists' point of view because we do not at present have any
conception of how it might be true.
2. Even the popular presentation of fundamental scientific discoveries are presented in a
way that they use the word 'is', however they never present a conception of what
makes this claim true, because they lack the theoretical background.
3. It might be possible to close the gap between subjectivity and objectivity from another
direction. At present we are completely dependent on our imagination when it comes
to the subjective character of experience. Thus, we could come up with a new method
- an objective phenomenology not dependent on empathy or the imagination.
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