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

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 19:18:23 -0000

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

> --- On Mon, 3/29/10, SWM <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> > The thought experiment.... supposedly shows something that,
> > upon consideration, we would all agree is the case. What it
> > purportedly shows is two things:
> >
> > 1) The CR has no understanding (a feature of a conscious
> > mind); and
> >
> > 2) That because it has no understanding, its constituent
> > parts cannot produce understanding.
> No, your item 2) represents just stage 1 of your attempt to misconstrue the 
> CRA.

So I have an ulterior motive in that I am intending to "misconstrue the CRA"?

> According to Searle's *actual* formal argument, the CRT of the CRA shows 
> simply that axiom 3 = true; i.e., that syntax by itself is not sufficient for 
> semantics. The CRT has no other purpose.

Premise #3:

"Syntax does not constitute and is not sufficient for semantics."

The CR:

The performance of rote responses tantamount to using a look-up table to match 
inputted symbols to stored symbols according to a set of rules and outputting 
them in response does not amount to understanding the meanings of the symbols 
being matched.

Now how would you say that demonstrates premise #3? What are the steps 
involved, what are the indications of the demonstration?

I would say that the CR shows that:

1) there is no understanding in the CR (based on our recognition that rote 
responding of this sort does not depend onunderstanding); and

2) the CRA argues from what we see in the CR that this fact about the CR shows 
that the constituent elements of the CR cannot produce understanding because 
they don't have it.

Now you can certainly argue that #2 is not found in the CR proper and with that 
I can agree. It is found in the CRA. But the CRA points back to the CR in order 
to claim it. So I will recast #2 as you seem to want, to more clearly show that 
it is not contained in the CR but in the CRA, even though the CR is the basis 
for it and thus is part of what the CR "purportedly shows" as I initially said.

As I've already said, the fundamental error lies in the supposition that 
consciousness can only be conceived as a bottom line, irreducible property of 
certain elemental constituents of the composite of processes (the system) that 
is the CR. But if that is a mistake, and Dennett and others make a very good 
case that it is, then that is the wrong way to conceive of consciousness.

But even if it isn't actually the wrong way, even if consciousness really is a 
bottom line basic as this argument presumes, the mere fact that we don't know 
that renders it impossible to say of the third premise that it is "obviously 
true" or "trivially true" or what not BECAUSE it might not be absent additional 
information (empirical evidence).

So even in this minimalist interpretation, the CRA fails to sustain its general 

> He needn't have given us the CRT at all to make his CRA work, except that he 
> knew some philosophically challenged people might not see the obviousness of 
> the third axiom.

But it's not obvious and I suspect that if you took a poll of major 
philosophical contemporaries of Searle you would find a significant number, 
perhaps even a majority, who don't agree that it is obvious. Thus your 
suggestion that only "philosophically challenged people" would not see what you 
and Searle see is at the least suspect.

Moreover, you have yet to address one argument I have made concerning why it 
would not be obvious. Here are a few:

1) The CRA wrongly assumes that consciousness must be a process property and 
cannot be a system property.

2) The CR is underspecked to do what any ordinary brain can do vis a vis 
producing consciousness.

3) Searle's claim is contradictory in that he grants to brains what he denies 
to computers AND it is contradictory in denying that with regard to his claim 
of not being a dualist.

> Let me know if you want to discuss Searle's actual argument.
> -gts

Well if you don't know that that's what this has been about all this time I 
guess this really is hopeless.

It seems to me that your "argument" is mainly a matter of insisting you're 
right by suggesting that you understand what others (me, Dennett, Hauser, the 
Churchlands, Fodor and a whole host of others - look on Hauser's web page) just 
don't. Of course that IS possible but you haven't made the case and you can't 
make the case by continuing to insist, repeat, repeat and insist.

Y would actually do better at this point to really read and consider what the 
critics of Searle's CRA have to say rather than continue to simply deny any 
criticism and "support" your denials by repeating Searle's own denials which 
are apparently no more convincing to his critics in the broader philosophical 
community than you are with me.

And no, failing to convince me isn't a measure of very much. But I respectfully 
submit that the case you've made so far for Searle on this list wouldn't 
convince anyone not already devoted to Searle's CRA in the first place.


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