Prof. Richard Heck has invited me to clarify my question #5466: A fallacious invocation of the law of the excluded middle is precisely what I have been accused of in proposing my claim about subjective experience. In isolation it might not be obvious why my dichotomous claim is consistently dismissed. I think the dismissal is understandable the context in which I usually present the claim: I begin by stating that if some but not all bodies experience their existence (majority perspective), and those that do develop physically from those that do not, then there must exist a moment before which such a body lacks subjective experience and after which it does not. This implies a spontaneous transformation requiring either a supernatural explanation or one in terms of physical theory. Engaged respondents to my argument are consistent: they are uninterested in explaining this transformation; they reject my dichotomous claim; and they propose a gradual development from bodies that do not experience their existence to those that do. To the best of my reasoning, such a gradual development either has a beginning point in time, or there is no moment before which the body entirely lacks subjective experience. If I am mistaken in my reasoning I would like to understand. If I am not, I would like to know which philosophers have addressed the matter. If nobody has discussed it, I am confused as to why it is considered an unimportant matter, as it seems central to the above stated majority perspective.

Having read this question and Question 5466, I think I may see what you're saying. If your opponents deny that there's a dichotomy between whatever has no consciousness at all and whatever has at least some consciousness, then they're mistaken. Maybe nothing occupies the first of those categories, but it's still a genuine dichotomy. On the other hand, if they're claiming merely that consciousness comes in degrees, then their claim is compatible with the existence of the dichotomy.

Compare the real numbers, which also come in degrees (of size): -1 is smaller than 0; 0 is smaller than pi; etc. Yet there's still a dichotomy between the negative and the non-negative real numbers: no real number is both; no real number is neither. Because the real numbers are densely ordered, either there's a largest negative real number or there's a smallest non-negative real number, but not both. (In fact, it's the second option: 0 is the smallest non-negative real number, and there's no largest negative real number.)

So, by analogy: If the instants of time are densely ordered, then there must be a first instant at which a previously non-conscious being is conscious and no last instant at which it was not conscious; or else there must be a last instant at which it was not conscious and no first instant at which it is conscious. However, I don't think that such a transformation is particularly mysterious. If the instants of time are densely ordered, then any transition that occurs in time exhibits this feature. Note that the transformation from non-consciousness to consciousness isn't perfectly sudden: there's no instant of non-consciousness followed immediately by an instant of consciousness, because no two densely ordered instants are ever adjacent to each other. If your opponents are denying that the transition is perfectly sudden, then they're right about that.

I hope I've managed to say something helpful.

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