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

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 21:23:23 -0000

I replied to this but it didn't come through and as I am going to be away for a 
couple of days I wanted to at least say something for the record re: this. (If 
the earlier response shows up, all the better.)

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> The idea of "rote responses" comes from your imagination.

So what would you call what the CR is doing? Certainly you wouldn't say it is 
engaged in actually translating the Chinese with understanding since, of 
course, by shared agreement between us and Searle it isn't.

> The man has *full cognitive capacity* while he implements the syntactic 
> program(s). He uses his full capacities in an attempt to understand the 
> symbols both in English and in Chinese.

His full capacities aren't needed. All he needs is the capacity to understand 
and follow his instructions.

> He succeeds in English, (proving beyond any doubt that he does not exist 
> merely as a cog in the machinery implementing rote responses, as in your 
> bogus theory).

His understanding, beyond what is needed to follow his instructions, is 
irrelevant and, of course, a CPU can do it without such understanding so the 
man is playing a CPU.

> But he fails to understand the symbols in Chinese.

Of course. All he is doing is matching squiggles to squoggles in Searle's 

> Conclusion: If one wants to understand Chinese, one must do something besides 
> manipulate Chinese symbols according to rules of syntax. In other words, 
> syntax by itself is neither constitutive of nor sufficient for semantics. 
> A3=true. End of thought experiment.
> -gts

Hopefully my earlier response will show up. In the meantime, note that the fact 
that the man's performance of a squiggle to squoggle matching process is 
nothing like what we take understanding to be. Therefore, no one will say the 
man in the CR understands Chinese, but that doesn't show anything about whether 
syntax is sufficient to produce semantics, contrary to your claim, because you 
have given no account of what semantics is aside from pointing to instances of 
our own understanding and once we actually examine it, we may very well see 
that our understanding is just a more complex array of the same processes as 
underlie the simpler performance mechanism (which you choose not to call "rote 
responding") of the CR.

But I have no illusion you will see this, nor do I expect my more extensive 
response, should it show up, will have any impact on you. I think, Gordon, that 
yours is a faith-like commitment to something you just want to be the case 
because there is no evidence that you take account of any alternative 
possibilities or of the criticisms that have been levied against the CRA in its 
various iterations.


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