Mary’s Room

Imagine a neuroscientist who has only ever seen black and white things, but she is an expert in color vision and knows everything about its physics and biology. If, one day, she sees color, does she learn anything new? Is there anything about perceiving color that wasn’t captured in her knowledge?

My belief: She absolutely learned something new, and though that new knowledge is hard to explain, it is not mystical, unexplainable, or nontransferable. Her new brain state could in fact be replicated in another brain or machine and be experienced just as Mary had herself.

Friedrich Nietzsche on God

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Baruch Spinoza on Free Will

So experience itself, no less clearly than reason, teaches that men [sic] believe themselves free because they are conscious of their own actions, and ignorant of the cause by which they are determined, that the decisions of the mind are nothing but the appetites themselves which therefore vary as the disposition of the body varies.”

Baruch Spinoza, Ethics