In his book The Conscious Mind (1996), David Chalmers gave zombies new life and made them a part of philosophical inquiry. Zombies give us a way of examining the question about whether we have minds or souls that are different from our bodies.
Chalmers asks us to imagine a world exactly like ours but populated by zombies. In this thought experiment, zombies do not have self-awareness but are otherwise exactly like us.
Daniel Dennett claims that zombies cannot be exactly like us, only without self-awareness, precisely because we learn from our awareness of what is happening to us. Zombies do not feel pain; we do. Therefore, zombies cannot, by definition, be exactly like us. They have to be a different type of being. The difference between humans and zombies IS self-awareness.
This week, consider the question, “Can humans be humans if they do not have self-awareness?” Put another way, the question is, are people? What difference does self-awareness make?