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

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 13:31:12 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:

> --- On Sun, 3/28/10, SWM <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> >> You know, Gordon, you posted the link to the Hauser site with that text he 
> >> quoted from Searle but did you even read Hauser's commentary or did you 
> >> merely extract the Searle statement because it seemed to support what you 
> >> are saying? <<
> I read the entire page, but I don't care what this Hauser person thinks, nor 
> do I care about some out of context quotes from Searle. Lots of people have 
> lots of crazy opinions about Searle and the CRA.

But you have to care if you're being serious about the ideas! If you can 
seriously say you don't care, what you're telling us is this isn't about the 
merits of the ideas but about your commitment to a particular set of them. And 
that's a matter of faith or dogma, not genuine inquiry into what may actually 
be the best case (most likely to be true or least likely to be false).

> I do however care in this case what Dennett thinks, and about what Searle 
> thinks of Dennett's counter-argument to the CRA. As I mentioned I have an 
> interest in understanding what he means when he insinuates that Searle's view 
> amounts to Cartesian dualism.

I'm glad you can say that but so far it doesn't appear as though you really do 
care about Dennett's views except insofar as you can find a way to say that 
Searle is really right, Dennett wrong. But you have frequently gotten Dennett 
wrong here.

> It seems clear that Dennett misconstrues the nature and purpose of the CR 
> thought experiment, especially given that you do in the same way and you 
> favor Dennett's take on the subject.

See what I mean? You have already prejudged Dennett and only "care" enough to 
find enough of what you take to be evidence that Dennett is wrong, Searle 
right. THAT is not the key to real inquiry which should be open minded and 
objective at the least.

> I consider this a plain fact: Stuart: the man in the room has consciousness 
> before the experiment starts, therefore the experiment cannot detect whether 
> his implementing a program will cause him to have consciousness.

Of course it's a "plain fact" that the man in the room is conscious. But that 
"plain fact" has little if anything to do with the argument. The man is needed 
to show us just how mindless a computer's behavior really is, to crytallize the 
picture of what a CPU cannot do, i.e., a man acting like a CPU lacks the 
understanding the CPU is proposed to have vis a vis the Turing Test.

The point of the CR is NOT to show whether the man in the room has 
understanding but whether anything, including the man in the room, has. The man 
is there just to demonstrate that even he doesn't.

> People can differ on the opinions of the what the experiment means, or what 
> the conclusion of the CRA means, but the experimental setup itself does not 
> allow for different interpretations.
> -gts

A "thought experiment" is not a real experiment. No one in the sciences would 
think so and no one using ordinary language would either. It's analogous to an 
experiment but without all the aspects of real experimentation. It's just to 
think through the implications of some particular scenario. It's a conceptual 
exercise, that's all. You keep talking about it as though it were an experiment 
as in "the experimental setup". There is no setup! There are only the 
conditions stipulated by the thinker and his/her interlocutors.

Anyway you once put this in terms of what you "believe". As I noted then, that 
is a claim of faith, not an argument. If this is a matter of your faith in the 
CR and the CRA then there is no arguing here except insofar as you think you 
can convert others or undermine others' claims. It's kind of the way adherents 
of a particular faith will argue for their sect's particular doctrines. I can't 
convince you that that is not the way to go in cases like this. If you feel a 
deep affiliation to Searle's doctrine there is, yet again, no apparent point in 

But it is amazing to me that you went to a site run by an established and 
credentialed academic critic of Searle, excerpted a Searle comment that the 
site's writer was critiquing and completely disregarded the critique. It seems 
to have been enough for you that Searle had said it, never mind the potential 
problems with it that Hauser was pointing out. It's as if Searle has attained 
prophetic status in your eyes. This is the wrong way to proceed with philosophy 
where everything must be open to inquiry and reconsideration -- and not just in 
a pro forma way.

But I can't change your approach. Only you can do that and to do so you must 
see what I am talking about and want to make the change. My suggestion at this 
point is that you take a step back and go to that site and read Hauser and the 
many critics of the CRA he cites. It will be a good start at least.


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