[lit-ideas] Re: Turing, Grice, Wittgenstein - Functionalism

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2012 18:22:41 +0900

Many thanks. Anyone else here disagree with that?


On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 6:10 PM, palma@xxxxxxxxxx <palmaadriano@xxxxxxxxx>wrote:

>  the notion (due to Lewis, Putnam, Block, et a.l)
>> according to which
>> to capture what object is you may look at what an object does.
>> One of the consequences is that, in the case of mind, a mind can be
>> "implemented" in different and wildly so, physical substrata (e.g.
>> suppose a mind has to be able to perceive, humans do it with V cortex and
>> a brain, and eyes, and the whole visual neuronal system--
>> a compuer can/could do it with a cam, chips, circuitry and so forth — if
>> you are functioanlist then the machine and the brain perceive, since
>> perceiving is characterized by its function and not by its hardware--
>> >>> John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> 1/13/2012 10:55 AM >>>
>> Donal, could you or someone else here describe what philosophers mean by
>> "functionalism"? When I hear the term, what leaps to mind is a now
>> discredited sociological proposition that societies are homeostatic systems
>> maintained by negative feedback. "Functions" can mean all sorts of things
>> from x=f(y) to a dress-up party. It would help a lot to know what, in
>> particular, we are talking about.
>> John
>> On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM, Donal McEvoy 
>> <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>
>>> >O. T. O. H., Grice, was was not a mathematician, nor a logician, nor a
>>> cryptanalyst, nor a computer scientist, thought highly of Turing. Grice
>>> endorsed, contra Popper, a strong form of FUNCTIONALISM (in "Method in
>>> philosophical psychology", repr. in his second book, "The conception of
>>> value"). For
>>> functionalism, the mind is a Turing machine:>
>>> Some sort of 'functionalism' is what I took to underpin Turing's
>>> 'Imaginary Game', though his is a tendentious rather than explicit way of
>>> proposing a functionalist approach. (Perhaps we should turn to
>>> 'functionalism' as a topic, pro and con. As Grice defends it, JLS would
>>> have a stake in the game.) But I will indicate why I don't think
>>> Wittgenstein should be taken as a functionalist (though elements of
>>> Wittgenstein's approach may be viewed as 'functionalist-friendly').
>>> Wittgenstein's earlier and later philosophy both have an opaque
>>> character [being open to various interpretation; given what Wittgenstein
>>> says, it unclear often exactly what his point is] but I do not think the
>>> later (or earlier) Wittgenstein was a 'functionalist' - simply that he may
>>> be taken this way in much the same way that his later philosophy of mind
>>> could be read as 'behaviourist'. The better interpretation, I suggest, is
>>> that Wittgenstein in his later period is not to be aligned to any
>>> (metaphysical) '-ism': rather, as per the earlier Wittgenstein, his is
>>> still an anti-metaphysician:- but where the TLP declared metaphysics
>>> 'nonsense', albeit sometimes most important non-sense, (the upshot being we
>>> should not try to speak 'metaphysically' as we are at best trying to say
>>> what cannot be said), his later approach is more nuanced. But it is similar
>>> in that when we try to pin down a metaphysics by way of some -ism (like
>>> 'functionalism' or 'solipsism' or 'empiricism' or 'idealism' or 'dualism'
>>> or 'monism') for Wittgenstein we are in effect trying to say what cannot be
>>> said but at best only shown. So if you ask later Wittgenstein whether a
>>> thought is a merely material or physical entity, you will not get an answer
>>> a la Popper where a World 2 is distinguished from a World 1 (or indeed a la
>>> traditional philosophy insofar as it hinges on a mind-body dichotomy):-
>>> what Wittgenstein might want to do is find out what exactly you think you
>>> are trying to say by claiming, or denying, that thought is merely material;
>>> and then he would seek dissolve the misleading metaphysical pictures (or
>>> conceptual confusions) that are thrown up by this kind of thinking -
>>> dissolve them by showing how they lead to both patent nonsense and
>>> disguised nonsense. But at the root of Wittgenstein's method is an absence
>>> of any clear metaphysical stance in the sense of an -ism. This is because
>>> the divide between sense and nonsense cannot be said it can only be shown
>>> (this is a thesis common to both the earlier and later Wittgenstein, who
>>> may be characterised as having two distinct philosophies of sense and
>>> nonsense and of 'showing not saying''); so any attempt to mark the divide
>>> by a clear metaphysical stance is a futile attempt to 'say' what can only
>>> be 'shown'. And what is 'shown' by looking at the interlocking complexity
>>> of 'language games', as set out in 'Philosophical Investigations', seems to
>>> tell against any clear metaphysical stance.
>>> Now one way to characterise 'functionalism' is that it seeks to
>>> side-step the metaphysics of what is at stake by translating problems into
>>> 'functionalist' terms (as indeed does Turing with his 'Imaginary Game');
>>> and, given that Wittgenstein's later philosophy also eschews taking any
>>> clear metaphysical stance, we can see how 'functionalism' might easily be
>>> attributed to the later Wittgenstein, though this would perhaps be a
>>> mistake.
>>> Donal
>>> Salop
>> --
>> John McCreery
>> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
>> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
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>> http://www.wordworks.jp/
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> --
> palma, KZN

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324

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