Monday, September 03, 2007

Might it be "like something" to be material?

With respect to previous posts on subjective experience, can one get away with a statement to the effect that subjective experience as we know it is just what it's like to implement sufficiently high level biological beings? I'm not real thrilled with this position but it would go something like this.
  • We are material beings.

  • It may be "like something" to be material beings and we just don't quite understand what that really means. This sounds like a form of panpsychism but I don't have another way of putting it. But perhaps there's some acceptable way to think about it. (After all, downward entailment is an acceptable way to think about downward causation. So perhaps there's hope that we'll come up with something.)

  • If it is "like something" to be material beings then subjective experience would be what it's like to be the way we are as humans. (I know this sounds pretty far out, and Aaron is likely to make fun of it, but it's the best I can do at the moment.)

    One way to make this more appealing is to realize that we don't know how primitive forces work. We talk about virtual particles and force fields. But what do those really mean? How do they work? Of course, there's no end to the how-does-it-work question.
I wrote about this approach to epistemology at the bottom of this post about what we mean by reality.

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