[Wittrs] Re: Searle's CRA and its Implications

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 00:20:01 -0000

Searle writes in the header of that article: "A program merely manipulates 
symbols whereas a brain attaches meaning to them."

Well yes, of course, but the question before us is HOW does the brain do that, 
not WHETHER it does that and, if the how is via physical processes, then there 
is no strong reason to presume computers can't also do it.

Note that this isn't about the factual question of whether computational 
processes are the right sort of processes to do what brain processes do. It's 
about whether there is something about computational processes qua 
computational processes that necessitates them being the wrong kind of 
processes for this task.

As I have suggested elsewhere, this all hinges on what we think consciousness 
is. Certainly we have an intuition that consciousness is continuous, unified, 
entity-like and different in its fundamental nature from the universe of things 
we know through BEING conscious. But just being an intuition doesn't suffice to 
make something true. People like Dennett aim to shuck off this intuition and 
provide an alternative account of how consciousness can be just so many 
processes, handling information in a particular way: i.e., a certain kind of 
complex process-based system.

Certainly even Searle doesn't deny that brains cause consciousness. Indeed he 
affirmatively claims it. The problem though is that he figures that's enough 
(all he has to do is say, yes, brains do it and someday somehow science may 
actually figure out how). But it's just because he stops short here in this way 
(without considering the implications of this claim of brain causation) that he 
doesn't see his problem, i.e., that if brains do it via physical processes then 
there is nothing in principle to say that physical processes performing 
computations running on computers can't also do it.

Again, I want to stress that I am not arguing that it is an established fact 
that they can. My only point is you cannot exclude them based on Searle's 
logical claim as found in the CRA. The CRA is just mistaken.


--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gordon Swobe <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program?
> http://www.scribd.com/doc/9647752/SEARLE-Is-the-Brains-Mind-a-Computer-Program
> <snip>
> -gts

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