In the New York Times’ “The Stone” blog, Gary Gutting reviews the old Monochromatic Mary and Philosophical Zombie thought experiments for the general public. I’m not going to hash through those, but I think one of Gutting’s statements is worth looking at because of how clearly it reveals a problem with the way philosophers think about physicalism and the mind:
When I feel intense pain, scientists may be able to observe brain-events that cause my pain, but they cannot observe the very pain that I feel.
So here’s a thought experiment. Imagine we are sitting in some bleachers and below us is a field of grass, marked off with white lines, a dirt pathway, and some square-shaped canvas markers. Upon this field, people move about, sometimes throwing and catching a spherical object, sometimes striking it with a wooden club, but mostly just standing around.
Is it reasonable to say that you are observing some “field-events that cause a game”, but that you cannot observe “the very game that is being played”?