[Wittrs] Re: Further Thoughts on Dennett, Searle and the Conundrum of Dualism

  • From: Gordon Swobe <gts_2000@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:48:23 -0700 (PDT)

Our messages crossed in the mail. Yes, I meant "non-physical substances 'or' 
properties" (not 'of').

For the moment, consider that "irreducible" needn't entail "non-physical". 

Dualists believe that the apparently irreducible nature of mental phenomena 
implies non-physicality. Searle rejects that idea.


--- On Fri, 3/26/10, SWM <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> From: SWM <wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: [Wittrs] Further Thoughts on Dennett, Searle and the Conundrum of 
> Dualism
> To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Friday, March 26, 2010, 4:28 PM
> When Gordon said:
> "I want to know if Dennett believes the CRA makes sense
> only if one considers mental phenomena as evidence of
> NON-physical substances of properties. Does he?
> I replied:
> "My view is yes, based on his text though, again, he does
> not lay out a formal argument as I have done. But I think
> the text of his informal argument pretty much makes the same
> point."
> I was probably responding too breezily so let me add this:
> I think Dennett shares the view I hold that, for the CR to
> be evidence that leads to the conclusion of the CRA, that
> computers can't produce consciousness, one has to think that
> consciousness is irreducible (which means irreducible to
> anything else that is part of the physical universe).
> Dennett does not use "irreducible" (at least I don't think
> he does) but asks, rather, why is it that the CR seems to
> suggest to us that processes of the sort found in the CR
> can't produce consciousness rather than that the CR just may
> not be up to the task?
> He answers his own question by reminding us that what's
> going on in the CR not only doesn't look like real
> understanding (it's just rote symbol manipulation) but it
> isn't performing any of the many other things our brains do
> when we have an instance of understanding in ourselves. This
> boils down to looking at what it means when we have an
> instance of understanding. Dennett puts it this way: for the
> CR to understand it would need to be able to make many, many
> connections at many levels. It would need knowledge of lots
> of things including the world, the relations of symbols to
> what is symbolized, itself, purposes, others' behavior and
> so forth. Every instance of understanding we have reflects
> just this vast array, this network of associations.
> But Searle's CR has none of that. What it has is a
> processor taking symbol X, matching it to symbol Y and
> outputting symbol Y.
> Dennett's point is that this is not how our own
> understanding works so why should we expect the CR to have
> understanding, absent the complexity of information
> processing he describes? So the idea that "more of the same"
> can't do it because it's just "more of the same" looks
> convincing but Dennett asks why should it be?
> It seems to convince until you look more closely at what we
> mean by understanding and ask why couldn't a machine,
> running more processes of the type described by Dennett,
> succeed where the CR fails while not being qualitatively
> different in terms of its constituents from the CR -- and
> then it no longer seems quite so self-evident.
> More importantly perhaps, look at the phrase "more of the
> same". Implicit in that idea is that all the understanding
> is packed into each and every instance of the CR processing
> an inputted symbol. That implies that the understanding
> "property" is attached to the process itself, an aspect of
> it, one of those mental properties dualists tell us about
> which are ontologically irreducible. It's just that some
> physical processes have them and some don't, sort of like
> saying some processes make a lot of noise while others are
> silent, some involve flashing lights and some don't, etc.
> Now, if we look closely, we see we can break every process
> down to its constituents, too. So there's really nothing
> like an atomic process just as there aren't atomic facts or
> atomic propositions. Even a process is a system of sorts and
> every property of any process is ascribable to other
> phenomena that underlie and constitute it. In the same
> sense, I think Dennett is telling us that, not only can
> there be no process property per se (they are ALL system
> properties) but, if that is the case, then we have to think
> of the world and understanding in system terms. And, in that
> case, if everything is a system, and understanding is
> similarly a system property, then there is no reason why a
> property of a larger system must already be found in its
> constituent processes/systems. Some things require more
> complexity in organization than other things.
> Is this a claim that takes "mental phenomena as evidence of
> NON-physical substances of properties" as you put it (I
> assume you meant "or" rather than that second "of")?
> Because of my points elsewhere about
> "physical/non-physical" I'm not sure how to answer this. But
> note that the issue of the CR is whether computational
> processes running on computers can suffice to produce
> consciousness so the question is whether one physical
> platform can do what another physical platform (brains) is
> known to be able to do. We know Searle sees mental events as
> just the other side of the coin of physical events, not as
> separate phenomena in themselves. Yet, his CRA, in order to
> reach a conclusion that is generalizable to all potential
> R's from the example of the CR, must do something Searle
> isn't willing to do when he talks about brains and that is
> to say that computational platforms can't do what brain
> platforms can because, when viewed in isolation, their
> processes evidence no understanding.
> So Searle, who insists that physical platforms are the sole
> causes of minds in the world through brains, at the least,
> is in the strange position of saying that another physical
> platform, computers can't do what the brain does because its
> parts aren't themselves capable of understanding anything.
> But if you look at the individual parts of the brain, they
> aren't either.
> So on Dennett's view, as I understand and interpret it,
> (and on my view though that's less relevant here since you
> have said you want to address Dennett's position) Searle
> falls into dualism with the CRA even though he avoids it
> with his explicit statements about brains. Because he
> doesn't explicitly acknowledge any of this, Searle can be
> taken as both affirming and denying that consciousness is
> non-physical, something I could agree with if he meant
> "physical" differently in his affirmation and denial. (I
> would say that mental phenomena are physically derived but
> not physical entities.) But Searle can't do this with regard
> to the CR if the CRA is to reach the conclusion he asserts
> for it.
> SWM    
> =========================================
> Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/
> ------------------------------------
> Yahoo! Groups Links
> <*> To visit your group on the web, go to:
>     http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WittrsAMR/
> <*> Your email settings:
>     Individual Email | Traditional
> <*> To change settings online go to:
>     http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WittrsAMR/join
>     (Yahoo! ID required)
> <*> To change settings via email:
>     WittrsAMR-digest@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>     WittrsAMR-fullfeatured@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email
> to:
>     WittrsAMR-unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
>     http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/

Need Something? Check here: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/wittrslinks/

Other related posts: