[Wittrs] Re: Understanding "Understanding" in Searle

  • From: "jrstern" <jrstern@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 15:54:19 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, "SWM" <SWMirsky@...> wrote:
> > > "The CRA exhibits behaviours in response to an input of Chinese language. 
> > >  It must, then have a source of those behaviours.  The only thing in the 
> > > CRA which is capable of behaving is Searle.
> >
> > Nope.
> ...
> I do think he's missed it entirely with his assertion that it is 
> Searle-in-the-room's behavior that is relevant. It is, rather, the overall 
> system behavior that is relevant though, in the CR as specked by Searle, the 
> behavior, even if we stipulate that it is sufficient to fool an observer 
> would not be enough.

My point is even a rock "behaves".

> However, this still leaves open the question of what is the "mental"? 
> Dennett's approach is to say it is a certain kind of process based system 
> while Searle, I believe, fails to adequately explicate or even attempt to 
> offer a description of what it is beyond asserting what he takes to be the 
> significance of so-called "first person ontology" to its description.

In alternate paragraphs Searle agrees it is a physical process, he just seems 
to have some magical knowledge that the physical process involved is not one 
that a computer can do.  Which is pretty much the old Penrose position.

I just see all of this as a failure of nerve, more than a failure of theory, 
and of course the rampant remnant Platonism that assumes and insists that 
things like understanding can be reified.  And the tradition in philosophy that 
a good rationalization is a good argument, whether it constitutes a verifiable 
physical theory in scientific terms or not.  I'd say such things are 
interesting, but have to be kept as games or grammars or therapy or poetry, and 
not anything to be called a "theory" at all.


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