The positions Ross & Spurrett (R&S) take on issues of information, causality, functionalism, and emergence are actually implicit in the theory and practice of statistical physics, specifically in the way it relates macroscopic collective coordinates to microscopic physics. The reasons for taking macroscopic physical variables like temperature or magnetization to be real apply equally to mental properties like pain.
But to explain. Dissipation inspires the wrath of the moralist and the envy of most others; for the physicist, however, it is merely faintly depressing. We call something dissipative if it looses energy to waste-heat. (Technically: if volume in the phase space is not conserved.) The famous Second Law of Thermodynamics amounts to saying that, if something is isolated from the rest of the world, it will dissipate all the free energy it has. Equivalently, it maximizes its entropy. Thermal equilibrium (...) is the state of maximum entropy. (shrink)
"Chuang Tzu" means "Master Chuang". If we are to believe traditional accounts (like those in the Records of the Historian , by Ssu-ma Ch'ian), he lived in the fourth century BC, contemporary with Plato and Aristotle. He was from a place called Meng, probably in the state of Sung, where he was "an official in the lacquer garden"; nobody knows what that means. Chuang Chou is also recorded as being a member of the Chi-Hsia academy maintained by the larger and (...) more advanced state of Ch'i, along with many of his most famous philosophical contemporaries, like Mencius and Hui Shih. And that is about it, so far as Chuang Chou goes. (shrink)
We have created the homunculus and have seen the monstrous being. Forty days the sperm lay buried in manure and each day at noon the Master turned his magnet across it, muttering foreign words. Then, on the fortieth day he showed me the resemblance of a man, but it was transparent, without a corpus. He told me we should feed the loathsome object for exactly forty weeks, and all this time allow it to lie in its bed of manure in (...) a continual and even temperature, so that its every member might develop. This we did, much against my will. And it grew into a human child, though much smaller than any born of Woman. Now, my friends ask me to make one for them That they may be as horrified as I. I would do so for their admiration, except that I am merely the apprentice of the Master, and I am afraid. (shrink)
Recommended: Edo Airoldi, David M. Blei, Stephen E. Fienberg, Anna Goldenberg, Eric P. Xing and Alice X. Zheng (eds.), Statistical Network Analysis: Models, Issues, and New Directions [Disclaimer: contains one of my papers .] Aaron Clauset and Cristopher Moore, "Accuracy and Scaling Phenomena in Internet Mapping", cond-mat/0410059 = Physical Review Letters 94 (2005).