...Also, few philosophers think these thought-experiments show that there are souls or some other sort of supernatural entities. Frank Jackson, who first proposed the Mary scenario, and David Chalmers, who gave the most influential formulation of the zombie example, remain philosophical naturalists. They maintain that there is no world beyond the natural one in which we live. Their claim is rather that this world contains a natural reality (consciousness) that escapes the scope of physical explanation. Chalmers, in particular, supports a “naturalistic dualism” that proposes to supplement physical science by postulating entities with irreducibly subjective (phenomenal) properties that would allow us to give a natural explanation of consciousness. Not surprisingly, however, some philosophers have seen Jackson’s and Chalmers’s arguments as supporting a traditional dualism of a natural body and a supernatural soul...
And in the follow up post, "Mary and the Zombies: Consciousness Revisited"
We need to examine much more carefully both the apparently obvious premises and the reasoning based on them. Along these lines, professional philosophers have uncovered a number of subtle and complex problems for both arguments. For anyone interested in pursuing the discussion further, I would recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles “Qualia: The Knowledge Argument” (by Martine Nida-Rümelin) and “Zombies” (by Robert Kirk).
We opine, It’s interesting to see how the limited our language and concepts are in their ability to describe consciousness, And all of this is way more sophisticated than what we had in the Mishnah and the Talmud when they tried to define kavvanah - direction of thought - concentration - or any forms of meditation.
This suggests that there is a self-consciousness-limit to the ability of science and language to self describe what is going on in consciousness. The Mary and Zombie hypotheses are in essence metaphoric stories that posit the existence of straw creatures so that we can discuss among ourselves un-self-consciously, fome of the most crucial aspects of consciousness - namely its physicality or spirituality.
We need a new vocabulary that has more complexity than the physical v. spiritual. To me consciousness has characteristics that are:
(1) intangible (2) non-physical (3) transitory (4) vivid and real (5) dismissible (6) motivation (7) fearsome (8) fill in the blank - put in any other emotions.
How does one describe thoughts? We learn to slow them down and commit them to verbal or written expression, art or music, all of that flows from consciousness.
Sensory consciousness is the intake mechanism. Dreaming, imagining, creating, orating - etc - are the output means of consciousness.
We like one comment on the second article/post in the Times:
Judy Shimkus - Supposing consciousness results from a yet-unknown type of energy?
Actually we’d say it’s a given - we know the energy is there - we just have no granular enough science (chemistry, physics, psychology) or modern language terminology - to describe consciousness in all its nuances.
There must be millions of operations that comprise human consciousness - and parsing and studying some parts of them is surely possible given the super-computing power that we have now at our disposal.
The recording of all human thoughts - wow that would be not just a stream - but one cosmic sea of consciousness. The capture of every human dream... another vast sea. And then top have Google make all of that searchable as it expands second by second - billions of thoughts of billions of people.
And the meta-processing of all that would raise the billions to exponential powers. Are we not approaching the infinite?
We’d like to mention the notion of “soul dust” here - in another application of the imagery. The components of consciousness are as numerous (in each individual) as the grains of sands of the sea.
Why assume that we need to dilute down consciousness to a few principles and elements? In fact we need to ramp up science and language and mathematics and statistics and create a rich symbology or consciousness that has the ability to express every derivative of the principal blocks of the c-world.
The financial world develops symbology to express the derivative instruments of each underlying equity or base instrument. The c-symbology will be way more complex by orders of magnitude.