Re: Searle: Minds, Brains & Programs

From: Baden, Denise (
Date: Tue Jan 23 1996 - 16:45:30 GMT

sh> Have to agree with Denise that there's more to understanding than just
sh> fitting input to memory. Besides, it's not just a matter of
sh> "understanding experience," for understanding ANYTHING is an experience.
sh> In other words, the system needs to be capable of having conscious
sh> experience: somebeody's got to be home in there. Searle has shown that
sh> that's not just something you can "programme."
sh> But don't get too carried away with the "mattering" (apart from the
sh> pun-value), because ANY experience will do, even a perfectly
sh> indifferent, apathetic, null sort of experience, emotionally speaking.
sh> Have one of those blah experiences and you are already eligible for the
sh> full-blown mind/body pproblem...

O.K, After our long debate I will admit that the Chinese penpal
writing to Searle would be a bit dismayed at his lack of real
understanding of their correspondence. I do maintain however, that
Searle would not have been able to help himself putting some
interpretation on these symbols, even if you rule out cryptology,
because thats the sort of thing brains do. And I do believe I have
made the point that Searle has not managed to show that he actually
would not be 'at home' as you claim above. Also to say that this
doesn't count as Searle has a brain and computers don't, is then
saying that Searles experiment is a waste of time, because the whole
point of it was to put Searle himself in the unsymbol-grounded world
of the computer and to then hypothesize about what he could or could
not understand. I admit that he wouldn't understand Chinese without
some sort of cryptology, but he can't say how much he'd understand
because he hasn't done it. To fool a penpal would take such an
extremely sophisticated and extensive analysis of the texts which
would take years. I do not believe Searle would be able to fool
anybody without at the same time having his own interpretations and
ideas and senses of meaning emerge. Obviously he would be wrong, but
then we were wrong about the earth being the centre of the universe.
My little son is wrong when he tells me he is 'cum big' to climb on
the toilet by himself, when he really means he is 'too small'. You
don't have to be right to demonstrate a sense of meaning. you don't
even have to be grounded. I've been to European discos where everyone
is singing along to English records, and getting the words 100%
wrong. I admit they won't know what the words actually mean in the
sense that an English person will agree, but to say as Searle does
that they have zero understanding is not true. I bet if you asked
them to tell you what a song sung in a foreign language, which they
have listened to time and time again means to them, they will have an
awful lot to say.

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