[Wittrs] Re: Who beat Kapsaprov?

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 21:48:51 -0000

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

> --- On Tue, 3/16/10, SWM <wittrsamr@...> wrote:
> >> According to his own theory of mind, Dennett has no
> >> conscious intentionality of the kind that Searle affirms,
> >> i.e., he has no mental contents.
> >
> > That is absolutely not so. I have seen some react to his
> > claims by supposing that but it's just not true. He
> > recognizes that we have experience and sensation and feeling
> > and thought and everything else everyone else who thinks
> > about it recognizes. His dispute is with those who then
> > elaborate from this to a claim that there are some special
> > "mental properties" that ARE these things.

> You say it's not so, but then you confirm my suspicions: Dennett dismisses 
> the reality of mental phenomena. We can describe his philosophy as 
> eliminativist. From an eliminativist's perspective, everyone looks like a 
> dualist.

Well you can read his book where he writes at length about the quality of his 
experiences. He doesn't say they don't exist. He just says they are what they 
are because of certain physical phenomena.

> As you may recall, about ten years ago IBM pitted a chess computer named Deep 
> Blue against the world champion Gary Kasparov. Kasparov lost. Did you know 
> Dennett believes Deep Blue actually beat Kasparov at chess -- not Deep Blue's 
> designers at IBM?

I do, too. The designers designed and built a machine and that machine acted in 
the world and did what it did. Of course if it won,  it beat Kasparov. The 
designers didn't play in the game, face the particular plays Kasparov made. The 
machine did and did what it did by brute data crunching as I recall, rather 
than by thinking about the game the way humans do. But so what? Whatever it did 
it still played against Kasparov and a more sophisticated machine MIGHT have 
accomplished the same end in a more human like way. That the designers get 
credit for designing it is beside the point.

> I can understand how one might use such an anthropomorphism in casual 
> conversation, but Dennett states it as a philosophical truth. He sees no 
> important difference between the mind of a chess computer and the mind of a 
> conscious human. He assigns personhood to a computer not even considered to 
> have strong AI, much less weak AI. Ridiculous, I think.

I haven't seen him "assign personhood to a computer" as you put it but I agree 
he believes we can do that in principle, if a computer can operate at the same 
level we operate at. More, I would agree with that viewpoint.

> In any case...
> > However, as I have already pointed out, what you are
> > referring to as the "third axiom" (which Searle used to call
> > a premise in earlier iterations) is, insofar as it is taken
> > as an axiom, beyond argument because that's what axioms are.
> > You either accept it or you don't. So what kind of argument
> > do you think should be marshalled against it?
> If Dennett believes that "more of the same" (more syntactic operations over 
> formal elements with more cpu's, whatever) will lead to the man or computer 
> obtaining semantics from syntax then he should > show us how that magic will 
> happen.

That you think magic must be invoked is interesting. He certainly isn't 
ascribing any of it to magic. Why do you think that is needed? If consciousness 
is a feature (or features) of a certain type of system there is nothing magical 
at work at all. However, there would be if we wanted to say it's an irreducible 
property in the world. In that case where does it come from and how does it 
manage to coexist with other classes of properties and even to interact with 

> He should give us a logical argument or another thought experiment -- 
> something with teeth -- to counter Searle's CRA.

He did (albeit not a formal argument as in a syllogism). But I can't make you 
see it I suppose.

> Instead he just says that more of the same could give rise to genuine 
> understanding (a hand-waving argument), and calls Searle a dualist for 
> disagreeing.
> -gts

No, you miss the point. But I have already made it several times and I see it 
is having no impact. One more time perhaps?

1) If consciousness is irreducible to anything unlike itself (what isn't 
conscious) then if it isn't present in the CR among any of the CR's constituent 
processes then, obviously, nothing in the CR can bring it about.

2) But if consciousness IS reducible to something unlike itself (what isn't 
conscious) then there is no reason why the constituent processes of the CR 
should not be capable of bringing consciousness about in a more robust 

If the first is the case then the CR demonstrates that computational processes 
running on computers cannot cause consciousness BUT THAT IS ONLY BECAUSE OF A 
DUALIST PRESUMPTION of irreducibility.

If the second is the case, then the CR does not demonstrate that computational 
processes running on computers cannot cause consciousness (whether they can or 
cannot based on empirical evidence).

Why does Dennett call Searle a dualist? Is it just because he disagrees with 
Searle as you put it? No, because, if you look at the two statements above the 
first reflects the CRA, Searle's argument, and it is grounded in a dualist 
presumption (that consciousness is irreducible to anything unlike itself).

So there is an argument here and, in fact, a fairly rigorous one. Here is how I 
put it earlier in these discussions to Joe:

1) If you think consciousness is irreducible to anything that isn't like itself 
(conscious), then you hold a dualist presumption regarding what consciousness 

2) The only reason the CR might suggest a conclusion that what the constituents 
of the CR cannot do there they cannot do in any other configuration, is if you 
think that consciousness is irreducible as described in #1 above.

3) Searle thinks that the CR demonstrates that what the constituents of the CR 
cannot do in the CR they cannot do in any other configuration (see his CRA).

4) Therefore Searle holds a dualist presumption (whether he acknowledges it 
explicitly or not).

This isn't name calling. It's to show something about the implications of his 
claims. Personally I have nothing against dualists and don't even consider 
dualism a pejorative term, contra some. I just think we ought to call a spade a 
spade and recognize what underlies claims like Searle's.


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