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

  • From: "jrstern" <jrstern@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 22:46:42 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:
> Hmmm, I don't see how buicks equate to brains or even automobiles

The question is whether a token of a physical class can "cause" a complex 
diachronic event.

Does a golf ball "cause" a hole in one?

No, the whole idea is gibberish.

>Elsewhere someone on this list (you?) suggested that cars cause motion.

Not me.

> Well, in what sense does Searle mean that brains cause consciousness?

Can't parse gibberish.

> Well, it all depends on the usage, no?

Sure, but some uses are wrong, or incoherent, and Wittgenstein's motto doesn't 
make them valid.

>There is an identity between certain physical constituents AND their actions 
>on the one hand ...

Identity?  No.  I suggest not.  I assert not.

> and certain sensations and occurrences on our level of observation on the 
> other (we see the wet spot on the ground, we feel that it's wet to the touch, 
> we watch it dissolve something, etc.) But this isn't just a claim of logical 
> identity because the features on the macro level and the micro are different, 
> i.e., the molecules aren't what we would call "wet". Wetness is not to be 
> found in any of the constituents but only in the aggregate and on a certain 
> level of observation.

Unclear what you mean.  Is the wetness a physical behavior of the water?  That 
might be in the water, though I'd quibble about saying it was by "identity".  
If you mean the feel of the water, that's in the agent, and even though we tend 
to use the same word for it, we are using it there in a totally different way.  
The red of the apple is one thing, the perception of the red another, the red 
of the picture of the apple perhaps yet another.  One of my points is that we 
must be exceedingly more careful than most arguments go, in moving from one of 
these things to another, to make any kind of solid arguments.  Which is a basic 
Wittgensteinian notion, that things are exactly what they are, particulars, and 
picture representations, and our notions and theories about them, are very 
particular, and any change in an element is a new theory, a new thing.  
Post-Wittgenstein this sort of morphed into the modal logics and Kripkean 
what-is-real-is-necessary, but I suppose that is also pre-Wittgenstein in how 
Russell went on about how false statements are not even statements.  OK, I 
rambled a bit here, but I suggest it's all unfortunately relevant.

> Do we need Aristotle's classifications here? Didn't Wittgenstein show us that 
> words have many uses and there is no essential meaning?

Yes, but that is not a license for gibberish.

>Ought we to conclude that Aristotle's four uses are the only ones possible?

One is making a rather strong claim if you pretend to go beyond or otherwise 
avoid them.

>Or, perhaps, we can subsume this Searlean usage within one of the classical 
>ones described by Aristotle?

Well, that's what I did, it's worth a try, to see what one gets at least.

> At the least the notion is clear enough because Searle (and I) have 
> explicated it.

Nosir, I suggest it is not clear, unless it is clearly nonsense.

> Why is that kind of answer to such a question any less valid than saying the 
> telephone pole moved because I slammed into it with my car?

Because a couple of thousand years of science have supported the idea of 
efficient causation, like that, and dissolved the other Aristotelian varieties.

Oh, there are a few who still like to play with teleological theories.  And 
frankly, Fodor spends so much time arguing against an oversimplified version of 
material causation, that I wonder if perhaps someone, somewhere is still trying 
to use that.  As I suggest is the best match of Searle's usage to Aristotle's 

It is not anything unique to computation that "multiple realization" is a 
feature, I recently realized.  That is only the same thing very broadly used in 
philosophy, and outside of it, as the type/token distinction.  You have a Mac, 
I have a PC, we both run tokens of Internet Explorer, which we say are of the 
same type nonetheless.  And even that is not new.  You have a black cat, I have 
a white cat, they are tokens of the type cat, with token variations.  And even 
that is not news.  The alphabet we use to write about these, has tokens of the 
letter "a" that appear in this material and that, in various fonts and sizes 
and colors, and we do not have any trouble saying these are all of a class, and 
the materiality of their instances is of no importance.  It does not mean that 
since the letter 'a' is an abstraction, that it cannot be used to realize a 
physical token of the letter, and cannot be used to compose a word like 'cat' 
that has yet another meaning, insofar as words have meanings, and please don't 
make me go on about the positive reasons why 'cat' might mean cat and not dog, 
in spite of what we all know which is that the string of marks does not have an 
essential meaning, if it did not suffice to carry a meaning under good 
circumstances we would not have language, and then a valid question is not how 
it might NOT mean cat, but in exactly what manner does it ever *succeed* in 
meaning cat.

Feeling a bit verbose today,

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