However, this book is not about them.
This book is about another type of zombies.
Think about a medical doctor who, during one of his sleepwalking episodes, performed an accurate diagnosis on his patient, with normal doctor-patient conversation carried out, and then had no memory whatsoever of what had happened afterward. He would later look at the notes he had jolted down during the diagnostic session and wondered what “he” had done. One can argue that the mind of the doctor was not even there when he performed the diagnosis. He was in autopilot mode. He was doing his work without the involvement of his consciousness. When a person is functioning without the involvement of his or her own consciousness, we have an example of a phenomenal zombie (or philosopher’s zombie).
This is the type of zombies that we are going to talk about.
Here is the question: Can anyone with a perfectly functioning brain be actually mindless?
According to modern science, specifically neuroscience, anyone with a normal brain and a properly functioning body will behave normally, “normal” in the sense that another human being cannot detect any abnormalities in this individual. So, for all purposes, this person is a normal human being. But in this description, the mind and consciousness never enter the picture. The physical brain, and only the physical brain, is what is important. If this is the case, why aren’t we “sleepwalking” through our lives – sleepwalking in the sense of being in autopilot mode without knowing it? Why are we conscious? What do we need consciousness and the mind for?
What is a mind anyway? What is consciousness anyway?
Many people who have thought about this question often come up with an image of a little green “self” sitting in the middle of the brain feeling all those brain signals. The self will be watching those visual signals the eyes project onto the brain; hearing those audio signals the ears transmit to the brain; feeling those itchy signals the skin nerve cells relay to the brain. The danger of this mental picture is of course when it is found to be no such “self” inside the brain, one has to wonder “who” exactly is feeling those signals when the signals get into the brain? The TV is playing, but there is no watcher.