two sides now


Two Sides Now

(Sung to “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell; dedicated to David J. Chalmers in tribute to his excellent site on consciousness, including this luscious and definitive paper on his famous “zombie argument”)


Folds of lobes beneath the hair

reuptake serotonin there—

C fibers firing everywhere—

I’ve thought of brains that way.

But I conceive them making puns,

and sobbing, singing, having fun—

with nothing mental getting done—

it’s just a brain’s array.


I’ve thought of brains from two sides now

with mind inside a zombie’s brow—

but that’s delusion I forestall—

a zombie cannot think—at all!


Incorrigible inner spiel,

the irrefutable raw feel,

conflation of ideal with real—

I’ve thought of minds that way.

But how a thermostat could know

how high a heating bill should go,

a little stupid so-and-so

with widest content, eh?


I’ve thought of minds from two sides now

the a priori tells me how

to strongarm Armstrong’s view to fall—

it cannot speak for minds—at all.


“Possible” comes in two brands,

one gives us paws (instead of hands!),

the other Kripke understands—

I see the world that way.

So I conclude I have two sides—

my one can kiss, one fantasize—

which no zombie could cognize

(though zombies still could date!).


I see the world from two sides now,

that brains exist I must allow,

but mind’s inclusion in them calls

for double-aspect view—of all!