[Wittrs] Re: Searle: not a Cartesian Dualist

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 21:33:01 -0000

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


> > Can you prove that or can you at least explicate why you would say it?
> > After all, it is Descartes' classic position that mind is different
> > ontologically, at its most basic level, from matter -- and here we have
> > Searle saying much the same thing.

> Cartesian dualists and sloppy-minded thinkers who accept the Cartesian 
> categories might mistake Searle's view for Cartesianism for the reason that 
> Searle, like Descartes, does not do an ontological reduction of the mental to 
> the physical. They might miss the fact
> that the comparison stops there.

Searle confuses the issues and falls into contradiction so one has to wonder 
who is the "sloppy thinker".

> On Descartes' view, mental phenomena have a *non-physical* reality. But 
> Searle's idea of the irreducible first-person ontology of mental phenomena in 
> no way requires or implies that mental phenomena have a non-physical reality. 
> Important difference!

Except that he embraces the idea that brains "cause" minds while denying the 
possibility that another physical platform (computers) can do it on the grounds 
that the features of mind cannot be found in any of the constituent elements of 
the CR (his universal Turing Machine proxy for any and all computers). But the 
only reason THAT would matter in determining what computers could do is if mind 
MUST be present in the constituents themselves for the CR to have the features 
of mind.

If mind is just a function of combinations of CR type constituents (a system 
property rather than a process property), then there is no reason the 
constituents in the CR can't do, in some other configuration, what they are 
denied the possibility of doing in the CR.

So Searle's his argument from the CR puts him at odds with his own views about 
the role of brains in which case he is in self-contradiction because his CR 
argument is implicitly dualist while his claim about brains is, at least 
explicitly, not.

> Cartesian dualism has a bad name only because of the philosophical problems 
> that arise when grappling with the idea of something non-physical, so even if 
> it makes you/Dennett feel warm and fuzzy inside to label Searle's view 
> dualistic, it really doesn't matter: Searle's philosophy does not suffer from 
> the problems of Cartesian dualism.

Well you can assert that, of course. One can always assert one's beliefs. But 
this isn't a matter of belief alone but of argument. I grant that my argument 
is not a simple one and also that it might even be wrong (though, like you, I 
think I'm right), but you should note that I don't argue here by simply 
assuring you that I'm right as you have done. Rather I've gone out of my way, 
repeatedly, to give very specific reasons for my claims that Searle's claim 
about computationalism (his CRA) is implicitly dualist while his claim about 
brains is, at least explicitly, non-dualist.

Your response to these arguments of mine, on the other hand, is to accuse me of 
wanting to "feel warm and fuzzy" (whatever that means -- it's certainly not an 
argument!) and to insist that "Searle's philosophy does not suffer from the 
problems of Cartesian dualism" contrary to my claim and without regard to any 
of the arguments I've given in support of my position.

Well, okay, we know that's your claim but, again, it's just an assertion 
without back up. Anyone can do that. It's just, like Josh said earlier, to 
stamp one's feet and insist.

> In fact Searle offers an ingenious solution to the problem of mind/matter 
> dualism. But nevermind that for now. You need first to understand that you 
> have it all wrong when you suggest that Searle's philosophy entails Cartesian 
> dualism.
> -gts

Let me see if I have this right: You think you have addressed the arguments 
I've made by telling me I just need to see that I "have it all wrong"? How 
about if I said to you that you need to understand that "you have it all wrong" 
when you deny what I've said about Searle?

Would you consider that an adequate response from me?


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