Re: Searle's Chinese Room Argument

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Sat Mar 08 1997 - 20:39:24 GMT

> Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 11:10:20 GMT
> "Intrinsic" referred to the meaning embedded in a symbol system.
> Extrinsic would be the meaning embedded in the invariant properties of
> the object ( ie., those which are generally sufficient to identify one
> object from another.

But there is no meaning "embedded" in a symbol system any more than
there is meaning embedded in a book. The book consists of inert symbols
that can be INTERPRETED as meaning something. But THAT meaning in a book
is clearly not intrisic to the book: It is only in the heads of the
readers of the book.

And why would the redness of an apple be "extrinsic" meaning. Isn't it
just that: the redness of an apple.

Now the redness in your HEAD when you see or think of an apple is
intrinsic -- but intrinsic to you head, not to the apple.

> My proposition is that the invariant properties of description (ie
> those which extrinsically are sufficient generally to visually identify
> one object from another - by shadows or angles for example) are one
> aspect of the structure of the mind which interacts with the symbol
> system.

That sounds ok.

> Stevan, on this last point are you saying that SOME objects
> are not linked as you describe or that some symbols are not?

No, when I say the mind cannot be JUST the implementation of a symbol
system I just mean that it's not just symbols/rules.

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