Philosophical Zombie – in the philosophy of mind and perception is a hypothetical being that from the outside is indistinguishable from a normal human being but lacks conscious experience, qualia, or sentience. – wikipedia
There indeed is nothing scarier in life than an unused mind. Scary, not only in what is being lost – but scary in what that says about our species. An unused mind, a mind that is not conscious, is very much akin to what we call a zombie. I love the mythology of zombies. The emotions that they conjure up in us are both horrifying and entertaining. We know this from the plethora of entertainment mediums they have invaded. Zombies are truly fascinating creatures that stimulate our fantasies and stirs up in us perhaps one of our most primitive of fears; which is of being eaten. We have, from an evolutionary point (and this tidbit is salient as you will discover later on in the article), a fear of being eaten. Out of so many violent ways in which we could potentially end our lives – having our bodies consumed is perhaps one of the most horrifying ways to go (however, as you will learn there are some people who legitimately want to be eaten). We know this to be true – just look at how cannibalism is seen, and justifiably so. The prospect of eating another human being is such a foreign idea that when confronted with this notion it disrupts our sense of reality.
So it is no wonder as to why zombies are such terrifying monsters in our minds. They look like us – but do things that we wouldn’t consider to be “human.” They draw out our most base forms of fears. Yet, at the same time, they excite us; this is a bizarre dichotomy that exists in our minds. Zombies have stumbled and crawled their way into every facet of our entertainment mediums. Movies like Dawn of the Dead (directed by George A. Romero), novels like World War Z (written by Max Brooks), Manga Series like High School of the Dead (written by Daisuke Satō), T.V shows like The Walking Dead (created by Frank Darabont and Robert Kirkman) and video games like Left 4 Dead (developed by Valve. Hurry Up Valve with Left 4 Dead 3), which I must say is the best Zombie game EVER or Zombies ate my Neighbors (developed by LucasArts), but these are both subjective claims. Not really (smiles)!!
Zombies have not only integrated into every medium of entertainment, but they have also integrated into our everyday life. What do I mean by this statement? Zombies are very much a real aspect of life – and the scary thing about this statement is that they live among us… right now!
Is this statement a flair for dramatics? Am I overly zealous in my thoughts and declarations? Have I seen way too many zombie flicks and shows that I no longer can distinguish between reality and fiction? A resounding – NO. There are hundreds of millions; I dare say a couple of billions of people today – that are zombies.
Are they zombies in the sense that they are going around eating people. No. Well, at least not a majority. There are plenty of cannibals out there, and this is by no means hyperbole. There are legitimate people out there, today, that banquet on the corpse and bodies of individuals that they may have murdered or from some neurological disorder that someone may have “willingly” given up themselves to be eaten.
Before we continue, I am not making this up. The mind…the mind is such a fascinating object of reality. I swear it is an existence unto itself.
There are legitimate sites online where people go to sell themselves to be eaten. Let’s take this story for example. A man in Berlin named Armin Meiwes back in 2011 bought a home where another man named Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes came over. The two men had previously met on an online forum; which is found on the deep web. The two men talked for months online and finally met one another. The two men had a pleasant conversation, drunk wine and engaged in intercourse. After these events, Mewies would proceed to eat Brandes.
This scenario may sound like Mewies murdered Brandes – but the thing is that Brandes WANTED to be eaten. There have been many psychological and neurological reasons that many have posited that someone would want to be eaten. You can read more about this story in the link I have provided (before you continue I have placed a link BUT prepare yourself for the article.).You can read this article here.
But to get back to my point.
There are a plethora of neurological disorders that leave many people in a state of primal and irrational thinking. Many reviews and studies have shown how stress shrinks our amygdala and how it keeps the mind from reasoning. Thus, keeping people in a lower state of reason, if there is any “reason” at all. Furthermore, it has been well known that cognition is a skill (meaning it has to be developed), it is not, UNFORTUNATELY, an inherent trait that is found in humans.
Although someone like Brandes wanted to be eaten, and who had every cognitive faculty working correctly, it didn’t prevent him from doing something that we would otherwise say is crazy or illogical. However, his brain chemistry caused him to want to be eaten – and THAT is a prospect that is far more horrifying then fictional zombies or monsters.
His brain chemistry drove him to be eaten, of his volition. Whereas, Meiwes brain chemistry pushed him to eat a person. This is quite salient and quite daunting because brain chemistry can “transform” people into animals or monsters.
We see it when people get angry, how irrational and how violent they can act. They are so “triggered” by a minute amount of stimuli. So brain chemistry is truly a frightening element in the human development process.
Our brains, which many people are unaware of, has three components to it. This idea is known as the Triune Brain. Now, this is not anatomically true, but this is more of an idea to better illustrate the workings of our inner world that is our brain.
All of this is very important in understanding the philosophical zombie.
The Triune Brain consists of the Reptilian Brain (the R-Complex), the Mammalian Brain (the Limbic System) and the Neocortex (the Human Brain).
The Reptilian brain is our most base and primitive brain. You may have heard of some conspiracy theories about Reptilian people controlling the world and doing so via media and advertisement (and this may not be that farfetched; well at least people trying to control the world, as attention spans have been shortening in the past decade). This reptilian mind is the brain that advertiser uses to get people to buy specific products. Ever wonder why people go to university to understand marketing? The Reptilian brain can easily be subjected to purchasing and wanting certain things.
In “Propaganda“, written by Edward Bernays, the book explained how to get people to want and buy certain things. It detailed how to get people to want things they DO NOT WANT and need things they DO NOT NEED.
Do you really like McDonald’s burgers or do you like it because you heard it in a song? Do you really Nike shoes or do you like it because that “athlete” likes or promotes it? Do you really like that cigarette ad or was it the smoking hot lady in the red dress and red lips that drew your attention to the ad? Do you really hate this politician or has your views and your opinion of that politician been skewed because of what you read on your Facebook post?
News flash! Facebook algorithms post what you continuously look for. Showing you ONLY what you want and blinding you to everything else.
Perception is truly reality.
The Limbic Brain (the mammalian brain) is the next stage in our development. This is where our emotion resides. The need to be in groups (hordes) is a necessity for many people.
In this area of the mind perhaps one of the all-time worse toxic emotions, jealousy, resides. The mammalian brain is all too evident that we are evolved creatures because many emotional feelings displayed in people can be found in our mammalian counterparts.
Love, hate, fear, jealousy, the need to be in a group, the threat of strangers, the need to hurt others so not to be hurt ourselves, and social hierarchy are all displayed in mammals.
Mammals do show a wide array of emotions and some have shown to have some level of cognition, but it is somewhat low when compared to the last and most evolved brain.
Lastly, there is the neocortex, and it is here that we enter the human stage of our evolutionary development, well at least, some of us. Here is where metacognition resides.
Metacognition in layman’s term means the ability to think about your thinking. A trait and skill that very few – I mean a minuscule amount of people have ever cultivated.
This needs to be understood. Thinking is not an inherent trait but a SKILL that must be cultivated – and I keep repeating this because there is a rather unjustifiable claim that everyone can think.
No… no they cannot (read my article about Metacognition here).
And although this may come off as a diatribe against society – it is not? It is meant to help better illustrate my overall thought that zombies live among us today and they are not the meat eaters but the “progressive and thought eaters“.
So you may be wondering what does any of this have to do with zombies?
The answer is all of it.
Because we have three brains, and each of these brains can be affected by the other brain – thus making a lot of sense that some people are hardwired to act and think a certain way; as shown in the example of the cannibals.
And like zombies who do not think but just act to stimuli (and keep this tidbit in mind), so too are a vast amount of people in the world. This is not a polemical statement. Attention spans have shortened in the last decade. So much so that our younger generation competes with goldfish in how long they can hold their attention.
That in itself is more frightening than a horror movie because horror films are fictional but this terrifying study is all too real, and we experience it on a daily basis.
Try and have a meaningful and thought-provoking conversation with someone and they will “zone out.”
Like zombies that mindlessly stumble around in life, so too are a vast amount of people.
I hope you are still following me. (I mean this as no insult, there is a lot that I am laying out.)
Zombies act on stimuli. They have no conscious, no thinking and have no attention spans.
So now that we understand the three brains, let’s explore how this works with the philosophical zombie argument.
Philosphical Zombies (R-Complex) – Brains. Brains. Brains. Consume. Consume. Consume
As mentioned before the reptilian brain is the most primitive of our brains – but it is the brain that really controls so much of our actions. Advertiser sells the populace items and things they do not need and the “horde consumers” flock and consume and consume and consume. They consume on items and products that they really don’t need.
Why do they do it?
Much like zombies in horror movies – that constantly eat, despite having no digestive system or no need to really eat; since they are dead. These philosophical zombies that exist in our world are no different.
South Park had a fantastic episode that delved into the realm of buying items online. The people of the small town were buying mass amounts of products from Amazon. When asked about what they bought or why they brought it the answer they gave was “I don’t know.”
Philosophical Zombies – Mindless Sheeple
The inability to think is a huge travesty for a society. Let’s take for example… the Milgram Experiment.
For those who may not know about the Milgram Experiment – this was a psychological experiment that took place back during the very beginnings of the 1960s, 1961 to be exact. In this experiment, there were two people involved and separated into two different rooms.
The first person was in a room hooked up to an electric shock system. This person was to answer a specific set of question. In another room was another participant that had the power to shock the other person if they got an answer wrong.
Here is where things get interesting. The person in the room who had the switch to shock the person also had a certain level of shock that they could administer to the person. Furthermore, they were told by someone (keep this in mind) to shock the person everytime they got the answer wrong.
The person who had the power to shock the individual did it when told. A majority of the people went through with administering the highest and the deadliest of voltage to the other participant.
Keep in mind the experiment was just a test. Fortunately, the person being shocked was just an actor, so no real harm was given to him.
The experiment was introduced because psychologist wanted to understand why so many Germans were okay with the Holocaust. They wanted to know why so many people, sat ideally by while millions were being murdered.
The results of this test were shocking and horrifying. 67% of the people who were told to do something…would do it. They did not know how to think for themselves. They weren’t even manipulated, they were merely told and… they followed.
All Too Real Zombies
And now we enter into the realm of true fear and true zombies. People that cannot think for themselves are zombies, and they encompass so much of the world it truly is a horrifying spectacle to watch objectively.
They are people who show all the signs of human emotions and function but in actuality, they have none of those. They look like human beings but they actually do not feel pain, empathy and do not know how to THINK.
But this is not the scary thing. The scary thing comes in the form of how lacking empathy the people have. They are not like sociopaths. They are worse in the sense that they have no motivation, no drive, no thought, no self.
With a sociopath or psychopath, not that they are people I would like to be around or need to be in society, but they have traits that are highly admirable. With sociopaths and psychopath, all that is required is to get them to think how being a productive person in society is beneficial to them.
With Philosophical Zombies you can’t do that. They have no direction in life because they have no self. Tell them to do something and they basically will do whatever was asked without questioning why. They just follow whatever the masses are doing. They lose whatever glimpse of conscious they may have had and give it away.
A conscious-less person is no different from a zombie.
And this is a sad truth to reality.
Not trying to venture into the realm of ranting – but think about how much time people spend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and any of these other social media platforms. Think about how much petty fighting goes on because of an idea that is foreign to people.
“Everyone else is doing it.”
Let’s take Facebook for example. Facebook has been well known to spy and track on its users. But more importantly, it has been a great means of manipulating and getting people to think and act a certain way.
As mentioned already the attention spans of people have slowly been shortening and this is because of too much stimuli that social media offers to people. Constantly being bombarded with information and images that stress people out and entertain people shrinks not only the amygdala but puts these people in an addictive state of mind.
They will constantly need to be “fed” any kind of mindless information.
The inability to think, to reason, to use any semblance of logic is truly a horrifying spectacle and something that is all too real.
The need for constant stimulation is akin to the zombies found in horror films; constantly searching and wanting food that it does not NEED. And much like the zombies in fiction who fancies after brains, it is all too evident that the same happens in reality. Think for yourself, try and innovate, do something different and the masses will chase after you or try and kill your dreams.
Voltaire best said it when he said, “Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”
The zombified masses are usually the ones that kill more dreams then death does.
Think about that.
You want to make a horror film that gets a good opening weekend box income, Then follow a simple, and remember K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid), formula. Don’t inject too much intelligence as that will drive people away.
Make sure to have a big chested girl and plenty of violence. Remember you have to have a lot of mindless violence to tell a great horror movie. Blood… scary. Thought-provoking ideas that linger in the back of your mind long after the movie has finished…bad and stoopid (yeah, I know). That is what the horde…oops… I mean the people want.
Want to get rich or famous, hey post “mindless” bullshit on social media. Write a compelling article about uplifting your life, try and get people to see different perspectives, try and educate people and well…see how that goes for you.
The zombie apocalypse is here among us. The mindless masses have long invaded this world and keep most people that can think in small little communities.
You don’t have to fictionalize about zombies taking over the planet because they already have.