[Serious Phil] [analytic] Re: The Causal Closure of the Physical
john.j.santos at hotmail.co.uk
Fri Mar 2 10:36:49 CST 2012
"SWM" <Philscimind at ...> wrote:
> "andy_kappa" <Philscimind@> wrote:
> > "SWM" <Philscimind@> wrote:
> > >
> > > Dennett asks if it's coherent to imagine such a creature that is conscious in everyway but the purely subjective way? I think Wittgenstein's point is telling here, i.e., that when we speak of the aspects of our mental lives we speak about the public criteria primarily because language belongs in the public venue. I don't take this to be a denial of a mental life but merely to point out that we don't need to see inside the famous box to know there's a beetle there. It's probably more like the Mexican jumping beans phenomenon. When the beans jump, we know.
> > >
> > > SWM
> > The fact that language belongs in the public venue is not a denial of the idea that other people are conscious, but neither is it an affirmation. We can't know whether or not others are conscious, and we don't need to know whether or not they are conscious, but we can't help believing that they are and it makes no sense to doubt that belief.
> The Wittgensteinian point is that "knowing whether or not" others "are conscious" is a wuation of how we use words like "know" and "conscious", not about whether we can access what's going on inside others' skulls or develop some kind of deductive or inductive argument to assure ourselves they're really like us. His point had to do with claims of philosophical solipsism and skepticism, not with what we can really know about others' minds -- the point of the beetle in the box metaphor and my own Mexican jumping bean variation.
Under the more usual circumstances I say that I 'know' something either if I have witnessed it with my own sense organs (empirical) or if I can satisfy myself of a water-tight conceptual relationship (rational). (Note that in either case I can be mistaken.) But this particular use of the word 'consciousness' is non-empirical (inessential to behaviour), and neither does it result from any water-tight conceptual relationship.
You seemed to be implying that we don't need to see inside other people's heads to know that they are conscious, contra the zombie argument that we can't know whether or not a person is conscious. Given this particular use of the word 'conscious', how do you support that contention?
More information about the Philscimind