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12/18/2018 1:50 am  #1

Three Questions on Edward Feser on Sphex

Now, you’ll recall from a recent post the notion of acognitive zombie -- a creature physically and behaviorally identical to a normal human being, but devoid of concepts and thus devoid of the other aspects of rationality.  You might think that a cognitive zombie would be sphexish, but that is a mistake.  If it was sphexish, it wouldn’t be behaviorally identical to a normal human being, and thus by definition wouldn’t be a cognitive zombie.  A true cognitive zombie would be something which would, like a sphexish creature, be devoid of concepts, but which, like a normal human being, would behave as if it had concepts.

The notion of sphexishness thus helps to clarify the notion of a cognitive zombie.  If ya think I’m sphexy, then you don’tthink I’m a cognitive zombie.  A sphexy Rod Stewart on his best day wouldn’t pass for a cognitive zombie.  A James Brown sphex machine wouldn’t pass either.  Peoplemagazine’s Sphexiest Man Alive definitely wouldn’t be a cognitive zombie.  The notion of a cognitive zombie is the notion of something as utterly devoid of concepts as thesimplest of any of Dennett’s purely syntactical engines, but whose lack of concepts is nevertheless more perfectly undetectable than that of even the most complex and perfect of Dennett’s syntactical engines.  Is this notion even coherent?  I think not, but that is a topic for another time.

1a. Isn't a sphexish human being a cognitive zombie by definition? When he says "a sphexish Rod Steward wouldn't pass for a cognitive zombie," I am confused.

1b. Or was he saying that no sphexish person is a cognitive zombie because concepts, according to Dennett, would be an emergent phenomenon and so any sphexish person would have a rudimentiary type of concepts emerge almost ex nihilo?

2. When he claims that "a sphexish person wouldnt be behaviorally identical to a human being," would the presence of identical behaviorism to humans in something that should be sphexish (e.g. deep neural network) prove that rationality has emerged from the DNN?


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