Searle vs. Pinker...

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Alexander Gross

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Jun 18, 2002, 1:57:51 AM6/18/02
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Just in case some of you may be interested, the latest installment
of the Searle Saga just came out in the New York Review of Books, an
exchange between Pinker & Searle.

I find it a bit underwhelming, but judge for yourselves. It's also
on-line at:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15541


G

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Jun 18, 2002, 5:10:42 AM6/18/02
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Hey George, even if i'm quiet most of the time, i'm reading your posts quite regularly and i'm with you. And it makes me happy being with you.

G.


George wrote:

> How did you feel when you posted this message? Satisfied?
>
> Are you against me?
>
> Are you happy being against me?
>
> George
>

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:26:37 AM6/18/02
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Pinky: Searle's eccentric decree has not kept thousands of cognitive
scientists and neuroscientists from invoking signals, codes, rules,
representations, neural computation, parallel distributed processing, and
other information-theoretic constructs that are neither blind
neurophysiology nor accessible to consciousness.

GS: And such invocations have led to the singularly most ridiculous
"science" since alchemy. At least alchemy led to modern chemistry, cognitive
"science" is a dead-end money pit.

"Alexander Gross" <lang...@sprynet.com> wrote in message
news:aem78v$vn8$1...@slb6.atl.mindspring.net...

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:26:37 AM6/18/02
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Pinky: Searle's eccentric decree has not kept thousands of cognitive
scientists and neuroscientists from invoking signals, codes, rules,
representations, neural computation, parallel distributed processing, and
other information-theoretic constructs that are neither blind
neurophysiology nor accessible to consciousness.

GS: And such invocations have led to the singularly most ridiculous
"science" since alchemy. At least alchemy led to modern chemistry, cognitive
"science" is a dead-end money pit.

"Alexander Gross" <lang...@sprynet.com> wrote in message
news:aem78v$vn8$1...@slb6.atl.mindspring.net...

George

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Jun 18, 2002, 6:38:23 AM6/18/02
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Alexander Gross wrote:

Is your name really Alexander Gross?

George


rick++

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Jun 18, 2002, 9:51:32 AM6/18/02
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I consider Pinker's third and least popular book "Words and Rules" to be
the most scientifically interesting because it based on Pinker's own
peer-reviewed scientific investigations. Pinker's two previous books
are more broad-based philosophical speculations as well as most of Searle's
writings. Introspection and speculation can be important and interesting,
but generally vaporous until grounded in repeatable observation.

Alexander Gross

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Jun 18, 2002, 5:36:27 PM6/18/02
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> GS: And such invocations have led to the singularly most
> ridiculous "science" since alchemy. At least alchemy led to
> modern chemistry, cognitive "science" is a dead-end money
> pit.

Three cheers for Glen Sizemore! Some of you might want to look at my
discussion with AI's grandfather John McCarthy at:

http://language.home.sprynet.com/lingdex/autocars.htm#totop

or my contribution to the science of AE (or Artificial Eroticism) at:

http://language.home.sprynet.com/lingdex/arterot.htm#totop

George wrote:

> Is your name really Alexander Gross?

Yes. Why? Precisely what epistemological, ontological, or onomastic
problem do you have with it?

best to all,

alex


Jim Balter

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Jun 21, 2002, 10:50:14 PM6/21/02
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"The fact is that in over twenty years of debating these issues, I have
never relied on common sense."

Searle is a liar. See, e.g.,
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Papers/Py104/searle.prob.html:

"I would like to think that everything I have said so far is just a form
of common sense."

Or, from _The Rediscovery of the Mind_, p. 35:

``Though perhaps most of the discussions in the philosophical literature
concern the "technical" objections, in fact it is the commonsense
objections that are the most embarrassing. The absurdity of behaviorism
lies in the fact that it denies the existence of any inner mental states
in addition to external behavior... And this, we know, runs dead counter
to our ordinary experiences of what it is like to be a human being.''

Searl's writings are litterer with appeals to common sense and
accusations of "absurdity".

Most sad is Searle's claim that "I argued that the computer theory of
the mind could not be right because if it were I would acquire a
knowledge of Chinese just by following the steps in a computer program
for answering questions in Chinese."

when in fact a) the "computer theory of mind" implies no such thing
and b) that's not even what Searle argued. Rather, he argued
(fallaciously) that he would not understand Chinese
merely by virtue of following the steps in a computer program,
quite a different thing, but the argument, even if it weren't
fallacious, would be irrelevant, since it isn't he, but the Chinese
Room, that is claimed to understand Chinese. His response to that
is to put the Chinese Room inside of himself and claim that he
still doesn't understand Chinese, but *that* claim indeed does rest
on Searle's intuitive "common sense": "The idea is that while a person
doesn’t understand Chinese, somehow the conjunction of that person and
bits of paper might understand Chinese. It is not easy for me to imagine
how someone who was not in the grip of an ideology would find the idea
at all plausible." But Searle's intuition is broken because
Searle with the Chinese Room inside of him would, ex hypothesi,
understand Chinese in the standard performance sense of being able
to competently converse in Chinese. And thus virtually no
reputable philosopher, logician, or cognitive scientist agrees with
Searle that he "refuted [the computational theory of the mind]
in a number of places". Compare this boast, which Searle repeats
frequently, with the standard of proof applied to Andrew Wyle
and Fermat's Last Theorem, and Wyle's despair when a flaw
was found in his original attempt at a proof. Dennett's
statement "Someone less self-confident might reason: 'I must be missing
something; these colleagues of mine are coming out too stupid for
words!' But if this occurs to Searle, it does not prompt any serious
consideration by him." is indeed right on.
--
<J Q B>

--
<J Q B>

ozan s yigit

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Jun 27, 2002, 3:35:22 PM6/27/02
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Jim Balter [good summary elided]:

> Searle that he "refuted [the computational theory of the mind]
> in a number of places". Compare this boast, which Searle repeats

> frequently, ...

this is the worst part; as others discovered in the past (eg. propaganda
chapter of _mein kampf_ :), if something is repeated often enough, people
begin to think it must be true. he has been repeating this "refutation"
line for a long time... sigh.

oz
--
the most underused tool in the kitchen is the brain. -- alton brown

ian glendinning

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Jul 4, 2002, 6:58:10 PM7/4/02
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Pity to see another binary argument, however the disagreement is 80%
about representation of each others thoughts, not about the actual
philosophy being debated. Both agree 100% on ...
Pinker : "words and rules are necessary for understanding but not
sufficient."
Searle : "words and rules are never enough to determine
interpretation, not even in the simplest cases"

The other unnecessary binary argument ...
"There are brute, blind neurophysiological processes and there is
consciousness," Searle wrote, "but there is nothing else." He also
goes on to say "I have **never** relied on common sense. I appeal to a
logical distinction between the syntax of the implemented program and
the semantics of actual human understanding, and the thought
experiment in question is designed to illustrate the distinction
between the syntax and the semantics. I am not sure I know what common
sense is, but I doubt that it contains theories about the distinction
between syntax and semantics."

Surely common sense and experience remains a good test of deductive
reasoning, even if not a sound basis of inductive logic. Cognitive
"science" may deserve a bad name if it insists on the rationale of
scientific method, and fails to suspend disbelief in common
experience. We are talking about the human mind, a social "science"
here - as with anthropology and ethnography, the rules of scientific
method need not be presumed to address the whole problem.

The distinction between the "programming syntax" and the "human
semantics" is clear, what is not clear is how the former can actually
represent the latter. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater ?

Ian Glendinning
http://www.aboh44.ukgateway.net/knowledge/webloghome.html

"Alexander Gross" <lang...@sprynet.com> wrote in message news:<aem78v$vn8$1...@slb6.atl.mindspring.net>...

Jim Balter

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Jul 5, 2002, 10:29:30 AM7/5/02
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On 7/4/02 3:58 PM, ian glendinning wrote:

> The other unnecessary binary argument ...
> "There are brute, blind neurophysiological processes and there is
> consciousness," Searle wrote, "but there is nothing else." He also
> goes on to say "I have **never** relied on common sense.

I pointed out (documented) earlier that Searle lied
(his claim is prima facie preposterous but textual search
of his writings clinches it). This sort of
lying is one of the reasons that so many professional
philosophers have such disdain for him (you wouldn't know of it
from the popular press, of course). Larry Hauser has done
a particularly thorough job of ripping Searle to shreds in
such papers as

http://www.wutsamada.com/work/nixgoes6.htm

and

http://members.aol.com/lshauser2/chinabox.html


Also well worth reading is

http://members.aol.com/lshauser/harnad3.html

which argues that Steven Harnad's valid arguments
from Searle's assumptions to unacceptable conclusions
(which Harnad nonetheless accepts) demonstrates that
the assumptions are erroneous. This is a very rich paper,
carefully covering the concepts relevant to Turing Test
and the Chinese Room in fine detail. Anyone who reads
these papers should come away with a much less naive
view of these subjects. Perhaps if enough people read
them, "common" sense would even come into alignment
with actual sense, rather than the nonsense that is
"commonly" spouted.

BTW, relevant to the subject of Searle's lies as the basis
for disdain is this footnote from the last paper cited above:

``Searle explicitly disavows dualism [(1980b), p.454; (1982), p.57)],
yet speaks of "ontological subjectivity" [(1989), p.194];
he continues to "always insist on the first-person point of view"
[(1980b), p.451], yet explicitly disavows "Cartesian paraphernalia"
[Searle (1987), p.146]; and he accords lack of introspective awareness
of understanding, or first-person disavowals of understanding,
the privilege of overriding all behavioral evidence in his
Chinese-Room thought experiment, yet says, "I assign no epistemic
privilege to our knowledge of our own conscious states"
[(1990b), p.635]. I call it the Richard Nixon reply:
"I am not a dualist." (Just an as-if dualist.)''

--
<J Q B>

ian glendinning

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Jul 5, 2002, 4:13:14 PM7/5/02
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Thanks for the additional references on this subject. Genuinely
appreciated.

But is it really necessary to describe the views of someone who, in
you opinion, is wrong, inconsistent or misguided as "lies".

My point really was about seeking common ground and building on it.

Ian Glendinning

Jim Balter <j...@exodus.nospam> wrote in message news:<3D25AD37...@exodus.nospam>...

Jim Balter

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Jul 5, 2002, 8:17:49 PM7/5/02
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On 7/5/02 1:13 PM, ian glendinning wrote:
> Thanks for the additional references on this subject. Genuinely
> appreciated.
>
> But is it really necessary to describe the views of someone who, in
> you opinion, is wrong, inconsistent or misguided as "lies".

Is it really necessary to mischaracterize? My comment is
not about his opinion, but about the *documented fact that
he lied*. Even people you completely agree with can LIE.
Searle LIED, whether you agree with him or not.
He lied about not relying on common sense, and he lies
about not being a dualist. As Hauser points out several times,
when Searle protests that he is not a dualist,
"he protests /too much/". Whether or not you agree with
dualism, Searle's claim that he isn't one is a LIE;
virtually every commentator on Searle, dualist or not,
concurs that Searle is a dualist.

Of course there's a reason that Searle lies about being a
dualist, and that's because admission that he's a dualist
confers upon him the philosophical burden of answering the
various and well-known challenges to dualism.

--
<J Q B>

ian glendinning

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Jul 6, 2002, 10:06:00 AM7/6/02
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OK Jim, you believe strongly that....

>Whether or not you agree with
>dualism, Searle's claim that he isn't one is a LIE;
>virtually every commentator on Searle, dualist or not,
>concurs that Searle is a dualist.

I can't disagree with that, and have no reason to do so, so my
apologies if my previous comment appeared to mis-characterise your
point.

The only difference in my opinion is that I'm not sure how important
it is, to achieveing workable models for knowledge, to worry about
pigeon-holeing people according to their "isms". But I'm here to be
educated by the debate.

Ian Glendinning
http://www.glenco.ukgateway.net/knowledge/webloghome.html

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Jim Balter <j...@exodus.nospam> wrote in message news:<3D26371...@exodus.nospam>...

Jim Balter

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Jul 6, 2002, 11:03:18 PM7/6/02
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On 7/6/02 7:06 AM, ian glendinning wrote:

> The only difference in my opinion is that I'm not sure how important
> it is, to achieveing workable models for knowledge, to worry about
> pigeon-holeing people according to their "isms". But I'm here to be
> educated by the debate.

I touched on that earlier:

> admission that he's a dualist
> confers upon him the philosophical burden of answering the
> various and well-known challenges to dualism.

The point is that, unless we are to start from scratch every time,
we need to employ labels. "ism" labels in philosophy are shorthands
for a whole host of assumptions and intuitions -- they are somewhat
akin to what philosophers of science refer to as "research programmes"
in science.

When Searle offers up a position on mental states, it helps to
categorize it according to the set of assumptions on which it
rests, rather than having to reinvent the entire history
of the debate amongst those who have been proponents or
opponents of that particular model. Despite his protests,
when Searle's language is untangled, it comes out to
rest on dualistic assumptions, assumptions that have well known
problems, and thus Searle's position suffers from the same
problems.

In Larry Hauser's delightfully witty http://members.aol.com/lshauser/zombies.html
he notes that ``Searle claims to "give a coherent account of
the facts about the mind without endorsing any of the discredited
Cartesian apparatus"''. Searle's language is very significant here;
if his account *did* "endorse" "discredited Cartesian apparatus",
the his account would itself not be creditable.
But Hauser identifies "at least seven Cartesian devices"
deployed by Searle:

``That account affirms (1) the essential subjectivity of mental phenomena;
(2) the ontological character of the subjectivity;
(3) a distinction between "as-if" and true conscious mentality
(which Descartes deploys to deny "the brutes" any mentality --
which Searle redeploys against computers);
(4) the "Connection Principle" that "[b]eliefs, desires, etc. . . .
are always potentially conscious";
(5) a methodological principle of privileged access --
"that the first-person point of view is primary";
(6) a Cartesian ego, i.e., "a `first person' an `I,' that has these
mental states" (n.b., this I <> my brain or body!);
(7) a distinction between primary ("intrinsic") and secondary
("observer relative") properties. Perhaps Searle thinks all this
Cartesian apparatus creditable -- but then, one wonders what
Cartesian paraphernalia he thinks discredited. (C.f. Searle 1987:146.)
(Hauser 1993a, chapt.6, shows how Searlean as-if dualism inherits
all the most pressing difficulties -- about introspection,
knowledge of other minds, and mind-body interaction --
of plain old dualism. See also Hauser 1993b; 1994.)''


I hope you do find that "educational". :-)

--
<J Q B>

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jul 7, 2002, 8:57:27 AM7/7/02
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<snip>

JB: Despite his protests, when Searle's language is untangled, it comes out


to rest on dualistic assumptions, assumptions that have well known problems,
and thus Searle's position suffers from the same problems.

<snip>

GS: I don't think this is true. If I recall your "evidence" for this is that
Searle uses the term "subjective" and it is that usage that you take as an
admission of a mental realm. Right? But one may hold that there are
subjective phenomena and still not be a dualist. This characterizes Skinner'
s position, for example. Indeed, when Searle was informed that his position
was very behavioristic he was somewhat shocked and promised to look into it.
I don't think he ever did, though. The main point, though, is that
"subjective" need not mean "mental."

I agree with you, BTW, on "isms." Ignoring "isms" is like ignoring what has
already been said about a topic.

"Jim Balter" <j...@exodus.nospam>


ian glendinning

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Jul 7, 2002, 11:40:55 AM7/7/02
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Thanks Jim, you've given be a bit of reading and thinking to do.
I may be some time ;-)

Ian Glendinning

Jim Balter <j...@exodus.nospam> wrote in message news:<3D27AF65...@exodus.nospam>...

Jim Balter

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Jul 8, 2002, 8:26:06 AM7/8/02
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On 7/7/02 5:57 AM, Glen M. Sizemore wrote:
> <snip>
>
> JB: Despite his protests, when Searle's language is untangled, it comes out
> to rest on dualistic assumptions, assumptions that have well known problems,
> and thus Searle's position suffers from the same problems.
>
> <snip>
>
> GS: I don't think this is true. If I recall your "evidence" for this is that
> Searle uses the term "subjective" and it is that usage that you take as an
> admission of a mental realm. Right?

I have no idea what you're talking about; the evidence as presented by
Larry Hauser was in the very post you're responding to.

> But one may hold that there are
> subjective phenomena and still not be a dualist. This characterizes Skinner'
> s position, for example. Indeed, when Searle was informed that his position
> was very behavioristic he was somewhat shocked and promised to look into it.
> I don't think he ever did, though. The main point, though, is that
> "subjective" need not mean "mental."
>
> I agree with you, BTW, on "isms." Ignoring "isms" is like ignoring what has
> already been said about a topic.
>
> "Jim Balter" <j...@exodus.nospam>
>
>

--
<J Q B>

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jul 8, 2002, 11:19:08 AM7/8/02
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You have no idea what I'm talking about? Ok, so it wasn't your argument, but
one you endorsed. What I am saying is that the argument more-or-less amounts
to saying that if you endorse the notion of subjectivity, you are a dualist.
That is nonsense. Is that clear enough for you?

"Jim Balter" <j...@exodus.nospam> wrote in message
news:3D2984CA...@exodus.nospam...

Jim Balter

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Jul 8, 2002, 11:34:49 AM7/8/02
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On 7/8/02 8:19 AM, Glen M. Sizemore wrote:
> You have no idea what I'm talking about? Ok, so it wasn't your argument, but
> one you endorsed.

*What* argument that I endorsed?

> What I am saying is that the argument more-or-less amounts
> to saying that if you endorse the notion of subjectivity, you are a dualist.

*What* argument? *Whose* argument? I've certainly never
claimed that merely endorsing the notion of subjectivity means one is
a dualist.

> That is nonsense. Is that clear enough for you?

I wrote below "Despite his protests, when Searle's language is untangled,
it comes out to rest on dualistic assumptions ..." and you wrote
"I don't think this is true" -- and yet you paid no attention
to the basis for the claim, which was sitting right in front
of your eyes. You wrote "But one may hold that there are
subjective phenomena and still not be a dualist". Sure,
and you can hold that Jesus lived and not be a Christian.
But if you *also* hold that Jesus is the divine Son of God,
that kinda makes you a Christian.

Searle doesn't *merely* endorse the notion of subjectivity;
he does a lot more -- and I quoted Larry Hauser's enumeration
of seven Cartesian devices that Searle deploys. What isn't
clear is why you persist in simply ignoring that.

--
<J Q B>

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jul 9, 2002, 8:32:50 AM7/9/02
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On 7/8/02 8:19 AM, Glen M. Sizemore wrote:
> You have no idea what I'm talking about? Ok, so it wasn't your argument,
but
> one you endorsed.

JB: *What* argument that I endorsed?

GS: Hauser’s, you ninny.

> What I am saying is that the argument more-or-less amounts
> to saying that if you endorse the notion of subjectivity, you are a
dualist.

JB: *What* argument? *Whose* argument? I've certainly never


claimed that merely endorsing the notion of subjectivity means one is
a dualist.

GS: But that’s about the extent of Hauser’s argument in this direction

> That is nonsense. Is that clear enough for you?

JB: I wrote below "Despite his protests, when Searle's language is


untangled,
it comes out to rest on dualistic assumptions ..." and you wrote
"I don't think this is true" -- and yet you paid no attention
to the basis for the claim, which was sitting right in front
of your eyes. You wrote "But one may hold that there are
subjective phenomena and still not be a dualist". Sure,
and you can hold that Jesus lived and not be a Christian.
But if you *also* hold that Jesus is the divine Son of God,
that kinda makes you a Christian.

GS: But this is not what Searle appears to do. I am not an expert on Searle,
but from what I have seen so far, the term mental is simply synonymous with
"subjective," and the extent of Hauser’s attack seems to be limited to his
recognition of the "reality of subjective phenomena," and peoples’
first-person reports.

Hauser writes:

Suppose, then, instead of going Aristotelian, we try being thoroughly
Cartesian, taking the hypothesized general mental force to be a force of
consciousness: identify different levels of brainpower with having varying
degrees of private, introspectable, conscious experience. Certainly, much of
what Searle has said in these connections, from his insistence on "the first
person point of view" (Searle 1980c, p. 421) to talk of "ontological
subjectivity" (Searle 1989b) suggests he is all too willing to appeal to
consciousness in this thoroughly Cartesian manner . . . and all too
unwilling to face up to the well-known difficulties with such appeals.

GS: It sure looks to me that what Hauser is saying is that Searle is a
Cartesian dualist because he acknowledges that subjective phenomena are real
and that we can talk about them. Right?

JB: Searle doesn't *merely* endorse the notion of subjectivity;


he does a lot more

GS: Right. He says that subjective phenomena are real, and that we talk
about them, and that this is what "consciousness" is. But that is not
Cartesian, or dualist.


JB: -- and I quoted Larry Hauser's enumeration


of seven Cartesian devices that Searle deploys. What isn't
clear is why you persist in simply ignoring that.

GS: I didn’t ignore them. There just isn’t much substance there.

"Jim Balter" <j...@exodus.nospam>


Jim Balter

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Jul 10, 2002, 5:11:06 PM7/10/02
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On 7/9/02 5:32 AM, Glen M. Sizemore wrote:

> Hauser writes:
>
> Suppose, then, instead of going Aristotelian, we try being thoroughly
> Cartesian, taking the hypothesized general mental force to be a force of
> consciousness: identify different levels of brainpower with having varying
> degrees of private, introspectable, conscious experience. Certainly, much of
> what Searle has said in these connections, from his insistence on "the first
> person point of view" (Searle 1980c, p. 421) to talk of "ontological
> subjectivity" (Searle 1989b) suggests he is all too willing to appeal to
> consciousness in this thoroughly Cartesian manner . . . and all too
> unwilling to face up to the well-known difficulties with such appeals.
>
> GS: It sure looks to me that what Hauser is saying is that Searle is a
> Cartesian dualist because he acknowledges that subjective phenomena are real
> and that we can talk about them. Right?

No, wrong.

> GS: I didn’t ignore them. There just isn’t much substance there.

I can imagine how someone with so little grasp of the subject might think so.

The idea that Searle, who explicitly disavows that behavior is
adequate for ascribing understanding, is a behaviorist is
ludicrous in the extreme. Searle holds "first person experience"
to be ontologically primary, overriding all third-person observation
that contradicts it. In fact, as Hauser points out, Searle gives
this primacy not only to first person experience but to *imagined*
first person experience, ruling that Searle-with-internalized-Chinese-Room
doesn't understand Chinese if we merely *imagine* that,if we were
that Searle, it would seem to us that we didn't understand Chinese --
despite our evident ability to speak fluent Chinese, giving correct
responses to Chinese queries, doing in fact what is *normally* described,
by those other than philosophers "in the grips of an ideology",
to use Searle's phrase, as understanding Chinese.

--
<J Q B>

Gary Forbis

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Jul 11, 2002, 9:37:42 AM7/11/02
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Jim Balter <j...@exodus.nospam> wrote in message news:<3D2CA2CE...@exodus.nospam>...


> The idea that Searle, who explicitly disavows that behavior is
> adequate for ascribing understanding, is a behaviorist is
> ludicrous in the extreme.

I agree, but that doesn't make him a dualist.

> Searle holds "first person experience"
> to be ontologically primary, overriding all third-person observation
> that contradicts it.

As it should. One can be mistaken about many things but one cannot
be mistaken about one's experiences. One can even be mistaken about
the nature of one's experiences and their sources but one will hurt
just as bad when all third parties deny one's pain as when they accept
it.

> In fact, as Hauser points out, Searle gives this primacy not
> only to first person experience but to *imagined* first person
> experience, ruling that Searle-with-internalized-Chinese-Room
> doesn't understand Chinese if we merely *imagine* that,if we were
> that Searle, it would seem to us that we didn't understand Chinese --
> despite our evident ability to speak fluent Chinese, giving correct
> responses to Chinese queries, doing in fact what is *normally* described,
> by those other than philosophers "in the grips of an ideology",
> to use Searle's phrase, as understanding Chinese.

Speaking Chinese isn't the same as understanding Chinese. I'm pretty
sure that anyone with a sufficiently neuanced ear could repeat Chinese
words spoken to him or her. Some could probably even repeat entire
sentences. I'm pretty sure tape recorders don't understand Chinese
even though they can emit perfectly good Chinese sentences in play
back mode.

Maybe telepones understand Chinese since one can see people talking
to them in Chinese. OK, it's the system of telephone and Chinese
speaking person at the other end that understands Chinese, but the
telephone doesn't add much to the system other than displacement in space.

I'd really like to know how those holding the "systems" reply separate
out the part that understands from the part that doesn't.

Glen M. Sizemore

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Jul 11, 2002, 9:50:42 AM7/11/02
to
> Hauser writes:
>
> Suppose, then, instead of going Aristotelian, we try being thoroughly
> Cartesian, taking the hypothesized general mental force to be a force of
> consciousness: identify different levels of brainpower with having varying
> degrees of private, introspectable, conscious experience. Certainly, much
of
> what Searle has said in these connections, from his insistence on "the
first
> person point of view" (Searle 1980c, p. 421) to talk of "ontological
> subjectivity" (Searle 1989b) suggests he is all too willing to appeal to
> consciousness in this thoroughly Cartesian manner . . . and all too
> unwilling to face up to the well-known difficulties with such appeals.
>
> GS: It sure looks to me that what Hauser is saying is that Searle is a
> Cartesian dualist because he acknowledges that subjective phenomena are
real
> and that we can talk about them. Right?

JB: No, wrong.

> GS: I didn’’t ignore them. There just isn’’t much substance there.

JB: I can imagine how someone with so little grasp of the subject might
think so.

The idea that Searle, who explicitly disavows that behavior is
adequate for ascribing understanding, is a behaviorist is
ludicrous in the extreme. Searle holds "first person experience"
to be ontologically primary, overriding all third-person observation
that contradicts it.

GS: Sorry, Balter, but you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
You don’t know anything about behaviorism. Searle’s anti-cognitivist
viewpoint clearly puts him closer to the behaviorist camp than even he
suspects. His attack on the notion of the brain computing (and even
computers computing) is very similar to attacks mounted by Skinnerians.
Since you don’t know anything about behaviorism, you do not understand its
position on "first-person experience." You also don’t understand its
position on the identification of units of behavior. See, you want to say
that behaviorism must say that the Chinese Room understands Chinese, but
this is to mistake the form of behavior for its function. Indeed, it is sort
of not even behavior...the person inside the room is behaving, but he or she
is clearly not behaving in the sense that a native speaker behaves. And
asking the person in the room if they "understand Chinese" is reasonable.
Say we train someone to deliver a talk about a difficult issue in physics,
the person is not a physicist, but they are taught what to say and what to
draw on the blackboard etc. and may be very convincing. We may, after the
talk, ask "Do you understand what you just said?" and an honest person would
answer "no." Clearly, one meaning of "understand" involves our "ability" to
judge the effects of other’s verbal behavior upon our behavior. Now, a
behaviorist might argue that other variables may be operating but, in
principle, it has no problem with the fact that people are frequently in the
best position to judge how they are affected by someone’s verbal behavior.

I’m not saying I agree with everything that Searle says, but much of what he
says IS consistent with radical behaviorism. And I still see no evidence
that he is a dualist.

JB: In fact, as Hauser points out, Searle gives


this primacy not only to first person experience but to *imagined*
first person experience, ruling that Searle-with-internalized-Chinese-Room
doesn't understand Chinese if we merely *imagine* that,if we were
that Searle, it would seem to us that we didn't understand Chinese --
despite our evident ability to speak fluent Chinese, giving correct
responses to Chinese queries, doing in fact what is *normally* described,
by those other than philosophers "in the grips of an ideology",
to use Searle's phrase, as understanding Chinese.

GS: One way to determine if a person is reciting something "from rote" or
doing something like looking up the questions and passing the answers out,
rather than what it is that native speakers and physicists do, is to ask
them, and behaviorism has taken the lead in explaining why, and under what
circumstances, the answer will be meaningful. Definitively so, in fact.
Again, the "faux physicist" example is perfect. The appearance of the
behavior of the faux and real physicist may be identical, but the response
classes are not the same and the person him or herself is in a good position
to observe private correlates of these different circumstances, provided
that they have been suitably trained.


"Jim Balter" <j...@exodus.nospam>


Glen M. Sizemore

unread,
Jul 11, 2002, 9:52:29 AM7/11/02
to
>Balter: The idea that Searle, who explicitly disavows that behavior is

> adequate for ascribing understanding, is a behaviorist is
> ludicrous in the extreme.

GF: I agree, but that doesn't make him a dualist.

GS: You would be as wrong as Balter, then.

"Gary Forbis" <forbi...@msn.com> hat doesn't.


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