Qualia Wednesday, November 20, 2013
1. What is consciousness?
• First answer: coordination of outputs with inputs
o Objection 1: is Watson conscious?
o Objection 2: the Chinese Room
The thoughtexperiment: Suppose that I know English perfectly well, and that I
am completely ignored of Chinese. Imagine that I am put into a room by myself
and given a piece of Chinese script. He has a book in English that teaches him
how to manipulate the language. The people outside of the room receiving
outputs and putting inputs think the person inside the room understands and
speaks Chinese. But the person inside the room doesn’t understand the meaning
of the Chinese characters. The moral: A mind that understands has to be more
than a machine which gives the right outputs for the inputs.
• Second answer:
o A distinction: Aconsciousness and Pconsciousness
o (Access consciousness and Phenomenal consciousness)
The concept of consciousness seems to be a bit obscure and confused
Aconsciousness is the kind of awareness that we ascribe to anything that reacts
appropriately to its environment
Pconsciousness is the awareness of awareness that is bound up with private,
• Interim result:
o Machines can Athink, but they can't Pthink
2. Qualia (=Pconscious states)
• The smell of coffee
• The taste of asparagus
• The drone of a bagpipe…
How can a brain, which is material, have a smell of coffee, a taste of asparagus, and the colour green?
• Three arguments why materialism cannot capture qualia:
1. The 'conceivability' argument: we can imagine brain states without mindstates and vice versa.