Sunday, April 15, 2007

Physicalists And Robots

Physicalists deny much of what makes us human by saying that we are essentially computers.

There is a striking example of this fact in an interview with Kevin O'Regan, who is director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology in Paris and is considered an important thinker by physicalist philosophers.

The interviewer asks him whether his ideas about the nature of consciousness have changed his view of himself, and he answers:

"It hasn't changed at all, because I knew I was a robot, and I was just trying to prove it to people. And finally I've managed to get it across to them. ... Ever since I've been a child I've wanted to be a robot. I think one of the great difficulties of human life is that one is inhabited by uncontrollable desires and that if one could only be a master of these and become more like a robot one would be much better off. "

When the interviewer asks if he feels estranged from other people, who think they are more than robots, he replies:

"I knew that they were all robots, and that they were just labouring under the delusion that they weren't. ... People are listening a bit more, but they're still very uspet, because ... they really do feel that they are persons and not robots."

From Susan Blackmore, Conversations on Consciousness (New York, Oxford University Press, 2006) pp. 171-172.


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