Hey, good lookin’!
I here continue my elaboration of the first premise (P1) of the Transcending Zombies argument by spelling out another way in which K* falls short of capturing P1.
Recall that P1 and K* are as follows:
P1: If I know that I am not a zombie, then phenomenal character is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content.
K*: Smith knows that Smith has qualia –> (Smith believes that Smith has qualia & Smith has qualia)
In the previous post I discussed the first of three ways in which K* falls short of P1. I turn now to the second key way in which K* falls short of capturing P1. In K* it is insufficiently spelled out how it is that Smith’s belief comes to be a belief about Smith. Not just any representation of Smith by Smith will do. The representation needs to be egocentric.
Egocentric representations are distinctive not only in that they represent the creature that has them but also in how they do so. The most frequently discussed kind of egocentric representations are egocentric spatial representations, representations of the spatial location of objects and features in a frame of reference defining locations relative to the representing subject. Egocentric representations do not only represent the representing subject but do always represent things in relation to the representing subject.
There are non-spatial examples of egocentric representations as well, including egocentric representations of time (R. Grush, 2009) and temperature (Mandik, 2001). Egocentric representations are oft found at low levels of sensory processing hierarchies and Prinz (2005, pp. 384-385) urges that such representations may be found in audition, touch, taste, olfaction, and interoceptive perception, including the interoceptive perception of bodily states forming the basis for emotional experience.
Several authors, the current one included, suggest that egocentric representations are action-oriented representations (Rick Grush, 2001; R. Grush, 2009; Hurley, 1998; Mandik, 1999; Noe, 2004). In contrast to abstract conceptual representations which are detached from action, the “here and “now” aspects of egocentric representation have immediate connections to the motor abilities of the representing subject. Unlike a conceptual representation of the representing subject, like when Pete Mandik thinks “Pete Mandik’s pants are on fire” my egocentric representation of my pants being on fire is connected to a host of pants-extinguishing action dispositions that do not require for their triggering a mediating step of identification along the lines of the italicized middle step in the inference “Pete Mandik’s pants are on fire. I am Pete Mandik. Therefore, I ought to go jump in a lake” (Kaplan, 1989).
We are now in a position to appreciate what’s being required of phenomenal knowledge in requiring that it have egocentric content. Without egocentric content, zombie-related skeptical hypotheses become live options for me. If my experience has any aspect that is not egocentric then even if I have an experience with that aspect and I know that someone or other has an experience with that aspect, then I still wouldn’t know whether I am the one that has an experience with that aspect. I may know that someone or other was a non-zombie, but I wouldn’t know whether the non-zombie was me. Relatedly, I might, while gazing at a red rose and enjoying a red quale, know that someone or other is having a red quale, but be in the dark about whether that someone was me.