[Wittrs] Re: The Chinese Room Argument's Presumption, CRAP

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 13:10:47 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:
<snip>> Stuart,
> you've been running your mouth about the Chinese Room Argument's
> Presumption, CRAP, for several years now; and, you were already well
> underway when I came in.

Actually I had been steering clear of the CRA debate for the most part here, 
not going into any real detail (as I did on Analytics and Borders or the 
Philosophy of Language lists) pretty much until Budd showed up and started in 
again on it and then J took up his cudgel, claiming to have read my past 
remarks on other lists and asserting I had no understanding of Searle. When I 
asked him to back that up with citations, to tell us which remarks of mine he 
had in mind and what mistakes he thought they showed, etc., he consistently 
failed to do so (often explicitly refusing) but we did start to get deeper into 
this, at that point, as I began to reiterate some of my prior positions on the 

It's only since the advent of Gordon, however, that I have begun to provide a 
full argument here, the way I used to on those earlier lists.

> now, it seems you are threatening to shut up if I point out the
> discrepancies between your definition and Dennett's definition of
> 'Cartesian dualism'.

No, I am threatening to stop responding if you just keep saying the same thing 
over and over again. There's no percentage in endlessly recycling the same 
arguments. On Analytic I used to respond by repeating my points everytime 
someone repeated theirs and what I found was that I got blamed for keeping an 
argument goint that others found annoying. I'd prefer not to let that happen 
here. Say something new, warranting a new response from me and I'll respond -- 
or you'll just have to content yourself with recalling what I've already said 
since I don't think I should be repeating myself on a public list where others 
have other interests they want to pursue.

> help me out here, Stuart. what's the downside for me?

I'm more concerned with reducing the downside for me. I am merely putting you 
on notice that I may simply stop responding to you. You can like that fact or 

> in any case, I'm attempting to clarify the meaning of 'Cartesian
> dualism' because it seems to be one of the key fallacies of your
> position. if you choose not to reply, so be it.

I have already replied:

You are altering the meaning of my terms in order to construct a false argument.

That's called the fallacy of equivocation in logic and can also be the strawman 
fallacy if the equivocation invoked suggests a claim that I am arguing for a 
position that I am not really arguing for. To be specific, I am not arguing 
that Searle is a disciple of Descartes or that he even secretly subscribes to 
the full range of Descartes' doctrinal tenets. Noting Searle is implicitly a 
dualist of the Cartesian variety is to note that he holds an idea of mind (even 
if not fully expressed) that is consistent with the idea of mind held by 
Descartes and which has come, in traditional philosophy, to be called 
"substance dualism."

However, as already said by me, I do not like the term "substance dualism" 
since I think it is archaic and does not fit well with our modern picture of 
the universe (i.e., physics does not describe the universe in terms of 
"substances"), thus I prefer to speak of ontological basics, meaning by this 
whatever it is that underlies the physical universe we encounter on our level 
of observation, operation, etc.

> * * *
> after all this time, all we know is that:
> [1] you accuse Searle of implicit Cartesian dualism because of the CRAP.

You haven't demonstrated any grasp yet of my point, let alone actually 
addressed its step-by-step progression.

> [2] you claim that the CRAP may itself be implicit or even denied by the
> one doing the CRAP.

This is a very stupid and offensive way of speaking. I don't like your 
sophomoric acronym here anymore than I liked your use of "cooties" before. What 
can start out as cute and clever may quickly become juvenile as it has here.

I don't see the point of continuing. (I'll put the necessary line breaks in 
below to avoid the 25 line rejection rule instituted by Sean -- that way your 
ongoing rhetorical baloney can remain for the record).

Note that you end below by accusing me of making "fallacious" arguments. But 
the only one here who has demonstrated a penchant for fallacious reasoning in 
this discussion is you since you have frequently relied on equivocation and the 
strawman fallacy to get by in these discussions. I don't know if you even grasp 
what you're doing but it's certainly clear that there is no gain in further 
discourse with you since you don't understand the points I've made and evidence 
an angry and rather juvenile attitude in your non-comprehending responses, as 
manifested in the all too typical array of insults and such that you are now 
engaged in.

Until you can exchange comments with me more dispassionately and courteously, I 
shall leave you to engage here with any others who may be more willing than I 
am to endure such nonsense.


> [3] you claim that the CRAP is not a presumption of interactive
> substance dualism; but rather, a presumption of some other (vaguely
> defined) proposition that "is consistent with the way Descartes
> understood consciousness"; and, which (allegedly) justifies attributing
> 'Cartesian dualism' to Searle and others making the same CRAP.

> [4] you have a simple procedure for detecting the CRAP in those who do
> not admit to being implicit Cartesian dualists: If someone thinks that
> consciousness cannot be broken down to non-conscious constituents; then,
> that thinker is a Cartesian Dualist.

> [5] Dennett understands 'Cartesian dualism' to mean 'Interactive
> Substance Dualism' --- Descartes' actual philosophy

> [6] you claim Dennett agrees with you.

> [7] you admit that Searle is not a Cartesian Dualist as Dennett
> understands that term; and, you claim that someone does not have to
> believe all of Descartes' philosophy to be a Cartesian Dualist; but, you
> refuse to clarify whether substance dualism is a necessary prerequisite
> for 'Cartesian Dualism' *as you define it*.

> [8] clarifying whether substance dualism (whether interactive or not) is
> a necessary prerequisite for 'Cartesian Dualism' *as you define it* is
> important because you admit that any other form of dualism is a matter
> of insignificance.

> * * *
> well, Stuart, if you want to put the CRAP behind you, you might try
> clarifying the definition of 'Cartesian Dualism' and refining your CRAP
> detecting protocol. as it stands, it is fallacious.
> Joe

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