Arguing Transcendentally for a Reductive Theory of Consciousness

I’m kicking around the idea of a transcendental argument for a reductive theory of consciousness. The basic form of the argument I have in mind would go something like this:

1. I know that I am not a zombie
2. My knowing that I am not a zombie entails the satisfaction of condition K
3. My physical doppelganger satisfies condition K
.: My physical doppelganger is not a zombie

Most of the heavy lifting will involve spelling out condition K such that 2 and 3 turn out true.

Some further thoughts on condition K: My conscious states are necessarily knowable by me as such: knowable by me as my conscious states. In order for this to be true, conscious states must be conceptualized and egocentric. Knowablity entails conceptualization (as I’ve argued here). And “as my own”-ness entails egocentricity (I’ll flesh this out further in a future post).

The first-person point of view delivers the conceptuality and egocentricity of our conscious states. That such conditions can be satisfied by third-person-accessible physical facts is the major thrust of my Allocentric-Egocentric Interface theory of consciousness (available here). I’m working up this stuff about the transcendental argument for a revised version of my paper “An Epistemic Theory of Consciousness?” (early draft available here).

More to follow in future posts.


A Question Regarding My Zebra
Fig. 1: SwampMan, Twin SwampMan, and a Pair of Phenomenal Zebras

3 Responses to “Arguing Transcendentally for a Reductive Theory of Consciousness”

  1. Can you explain more on the entailment.
    It seems to me that if me knowing that I’m not zombie entails satisfaction of condition K; it doesn’t follow that satisfaction of condition K means that I will know that I’m a zombie… i.e. seems to me that K will be necessary but not sufficient condition, unless of course if “knowing that I’m not zombie” is equated with the satisfaction of this condition.

  2. petemandik says:

    You raise a good point. The argument would be invalid if condition K is interpreted as being merely necessary. Therefore, I interpret it as being sufficient as well.

  3. Petzinger says:

    hi pete,

    i think you`re absolutly right. the problem is, the zombie-freak will always raise up doubts, because he`ll always point out this or that possibility of a twin world and other strange stuff.

    i think the point is (to put it in nice, metaphysical words): “life can only be known by life”. it`s a quote from the phil. hans jonas, and it has often been used by evan thompson, francisco varela etc.

    the quote doesn`t claim anything spooky for the ontological level, rather it`s a question from one`s perspective.

    thus, your point 3. is satisfied, but only from my or the zombies perspective.

    this come just to my mind, hence sorry for having bored you & double-sorry for my awful english ;)