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The relation of mind and body - critique of the Zombie Zack

One of the most fundamental questions about the mind concerns its relationship to the body (and, more specifically, its relationship to the ...

One of the most fundamental questions about the mind concerns its relationship to the body (and, more specifically, its relationship to the brain). According to the dictionary, the mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.

The philosopher David Chalmers has an argument about normal Zack and mindless Zombie Zack concerning the relationship between the mind and body.

According to Chalmers, we can conceive of what he terms “zombies”—beings who are molecule-for-molecule identical with phenomenally conscious beings but who are not themselves phenomenally conscious. In appearance and action, a conscious being and his zombie replica would be indistinguishable, but for the zombie, as Chalmers says, “all is dark inside.”

When Zack and Zombie Zack each take a bite of chocolate cake, they each have the same reaction — they smile, exclaim how good it is, lick their lips, and reach for another forkful. But whereas Zack, a phenomenally conscious being, is having a distinctive (and delightful) qualitative experience while tasting the chocolate cake, Zombie Zack is experiencing nothing at all. This suggests that Zack’s consciousness is a further fact about him, over and above all the physical facts about him (since all those physical facts are true of Zombie Zack as well). Consciousness, that is, must be nonphysical.

According to this line of thought, Zack has self-awareness, has feelings, Zombie Zack has no, so Zack has the quality and function of qualia, while Zombie Zack does not. However, Zack and Zombie Zack are assumed to be physically identical. We can reach a conclusion, that this assumption should not be valid.

In the thought of the physiology of qualia, we examined what kind of physically existing process can create qualia, the feeling. The phenomenon of qualia in the brain can be caused by the activity of a neural network with distant associative relationships conditioned by sensory activity. Based on the line of reasoning, we assume that Zombie Zack does not have the phenomenon of qualia, so he does not have the process of the nervous system that we hypothesize creates qualia.

Although Zack and Zombie Zack are the same in the physical structure of their nervous system, at least there must be a difference between them in the physical process that creates the qualia. While Zack and Zombie Zack appear to be completely identical in behavior, they respond in the same way to the same stimuli, yet they differ in their internal nervous system processes.

In Zombie Zack, the process of the nervous system that creates qualia does not work. Zombie Zack’s nervous system is static, it has inelastic, non-plastic neural pathways between input and output. While Zombie Zack’s brain is functioning, only low-level (no distant associational) neural pathways develop and function in his nervous system. These neural pathways, because they do not have remote associative relationships, cannot activate distant neural pathways, nor can distant neural pathways activate a given input-output neural pathway. Zombie Zack's sensory activity does not produce distant memories outside the specified output, and the given input-output neural pathway cannot be activated only by the given input alone. Zombie Zack is controlled by low-level reflexes. Zombie Zack is not a creative person, if he can learn, he can only be taught simple and direct tasks.

Zack and Zombie Zack can only be the same on a momentary level. Their nervous system structure may be the same at a given moment, but their neural functioning processes are different. If we let Zack and Zombie Zack’s brains work in the same environment and re-examine them at a later time, we could see the difference in the neural connections between the two brains. We would see that Zombie Zack’s brain barely changed, the network of neurons did not establish remote connections. Zombie Zack's brain is rigid. However, the structure of Zack’s brain changes significantly over time, and distant associational relationships can develop. Zack's brain is plastic. We can physically make a distinction between Zack and Zombie Zack’s nervous system.

The argument of Zack and Zombie Zack's that Zack and Zombie Zack are the same is flawed. By the suspected brain process of the qualia, we can find the difference between Zack and Zombie Zack’s nervous system. Consequently, the original argument is not capable of ruling out that consciousness cannot have a physical representation.

If Zack and Zombie Zack's brains are the same at the moment, the identity disappears during operation. In Zack’s brain, there is a physiological process that creates the experience of qualia. Zack also has an experience of self-awareness. Does the assumed physiological process that creates the experience of qualia also create the phenomenon of self-awareness?

What is the connection of the physical, physiological, nervous system process that creates the phenomenon of qualia and self-awareness? Consciousness is certainly a feature created during the functioning of the nervous system, so it must be related to evolution. Consciousness might be an evolutionary development of the physiological process of qualia.

Brain {button_primary} Consciousness {button_primary} Human {button_primary} Mind and body {button_primary} Mind state {button_primary} Philosophy {button_primary} Qualia {button_primary} Subjective world {button_primary} Zombie {button_primary}

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