Oct 14, 2012
During the mid 1990s two fascinating papers were presented in a publication called The Journal of Consciousness Studies.
The first was titled Conversations with Zombies,
by Todd C. Moody, a Philosophy professor at St. Joseph’s University in
Philadelphia. The second was a direct response written by Charles T.
Tart of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, entitled Yes, We Are Zombies, But We Can Become Conscious!
Both papers embrace the notion that consciousness, or our awareness
of our own awareness, could be a phenomenon independent from or
non-essential to the processes of the brain and the nervous system and
associated behavior that stems from it.
In other words, we as humans are capable of living most of the time
in a reduced state of consciousness akin to that of a zombie; a waking
sleep. Both papers argue that there is a higher form of
“superconsciousness” as Moody calls it, or an “expanded consciousness state” in Tart’s words.
The `zombie problem’ is the problem of consciousness,
stated in a particularly provocative way. Given any functional
description of cognition, as detailed and complete as one can imagine,
it will still make sense to suppose that there could be insentient
beings that exemplify that description. That is, it is possible that
there could be a behaviourally indiscernible but insentient simulacrum
of a human cognizer: a zombie.