[ExI] How not to make a thought experiment

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 21 13:15:42 UTC 2010

"It remains only to note that if Searle himself were executing the computer program, he would still not be understanding Chinese. Hence (by (2)) neither would the computer, executing the very same program. Q.E.D. Computationalism is false."

Ah, I see.  I see where the misunderstanding lies.

The idea the author has is that the thing that implements the program is the same as the thing that has the mental states (which are the result of the running of the program).  

Which is equivalent to saying that the neurons which implement thinking are themselves thinking.

If that were true, then indeed, the whole argument would be valid.  But it's not true.

So, this suggests that Searle and his disciples do not see the difference between a bunch of neurons and a mind (or a computer and a running program).

Strictly speaking, the sentence above is quite correct, the computer itself would not understand chinese, any more than it understands maths when it runs a spreadsheet.  

The thing that puzzles me is that it's not obvious to these people that a brain doesn't understand anything either. The same argument proves it.

Ben Zaiboc


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