How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Zombie?

by Anthony Weber

The-Walking-Dead-and-PhilosophyEven before The Walking Dead and Jersey Shore became popular, the world had been introduced to the notion of philosophical zombies, theoretical creatures identical to human beings with one tiny distinction – they have no consciousness, qualia, or sentience. Imagine a twin who is identical to you in every possible material way but lacks any type of inner subjective experience.  Clearly something is different between the two of you, but how and why?

Many would simply cite the existence of rationality and self-awareness – things we associate with the mind.  But what exactly is the mind, and how is it distinct from or similar to the brain?  For that matter, how important to our humanity are the immaterial aspects of our nature – our consciousness, our mind, our thoughts, ideas, and emotions? And is there a philosophical system sufficient to explain them?

In The Walking Dead and Philosophy, two introductory essays (“Are You Brains or Something More?” by Gordon Hawkes, and “Can You Survive a Walker Bite? “ by Greg Littmann) attempt to tackle these important questions.

Mr. Hawkes asks, “Is there something in a human being that isn’t physical? Is there some immaterial essence or soul that humans possess, or are they just solid, edible matter all the way through?”If we are only our material bodies (or, as Bruce Willis so eloquently described us in The Fifth Element, "meat popsicles"), we would obviously continue as humans after we become zombies. If our physical bodies march on with all the key components in place, so do we…

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