Tag Archives: Jean-Paul Sartre did a shotload of speed

Philosophical Zombies

z-phil2When I was taking philosophy courses in college, most of the thought experiments we learned were pretty “old school.”  Classical.  Unchanged in illustrative content since the 1700’s.  

  • We can conceive of a gold mountain or a unicorn, but does that make them any closer to existing than something of which we cannot conceive?
  • If you were a brain in a vat, would you, like, know it?
  • When you do something, what if, actually, God does it?  For some reason…
  •  If you wrote Being and Nothingness, does that make it okay to be a wife-swapping speed-freak?  (Answer: Yes.) 

Despite my exposure to these and a bevy of other ponderables, I never learned until recently that there is a modern school of body-mind philosophical thought that uses zombies.  Zombies, in philosophy, are things that look and act like humans, but are not human.  The posited existence of such a being seems to have applications from Descartes to Kripke.  What does the existence of philosophical zombies say about the quality of human-ness or being-ness?  If we can conceive of a zombie, does that mean it, on some level, exists?  Could a zombie eat enough brains that it would, like, actually get full?  (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Anyhow, if you’d like to learn more, here’s a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on philosophical zombies.  It’s pretty interesting.