This blog post is a blog post about a blog post about me. (Am I a strange loop yet?) Over at “Worldly Living: Philosophy of Mind and Sometimes More,” A.G. has some detailed comments on my paper “The Neurophilosophy of Subjectivity.” Here’s a brief excerpt of A.G.’s post and a response.
An unjust summary of points made in the paper: Phenomenal Raw Feels donâ€™t exist as mere sensory input devoid of higher level mental processes. If this is true, then would it be possible to replicate an â€œexperienceâ€ purely at a higher level? Pete answers in the affirmative, at least to an extent. Mary, by her study, could have more what-itâ€™s-like knowledge than a control subject who isnâ€™t a brilliant color scientist.
I think it is important to distinguish between having a conscious experience (a mental state that has phenomenal properties) and being in a state of knowing what it’s like to have a conscious experience (a mental state that arguably need not have phenomenal properties). The main question I’m interested in in the paper is whether it is a necessary condition on having the second kind of state that one has the first kind of state.
I argue that there is no such necessary condition. I argue that for any given conscious experience, Mary could come to be in a state of knowing what it would be like to have that experience without ever having that experience. I would not describe what Mary is doing as “replicating the experience at a higher level”. She need not be having any experience to get herself in the state of knowledge in question.
That’s all for now. I’m sure there’ll be more later. Have a nice weekend!