[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 14 13:37:59 UTC 2010

--- On Wed, 1/13/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> The problem is that you can't explain how humans get their
> understanding. 

I can explain how they do not get their understanding, which brings us one step closer to understanding how they do.

> It doesn't help to say that some physical activity
> happens in neurons which produces the understanding, not
> because you haven't given the details of the physical activity, but
> because you haven't explained how, in general terms, it is possible for
> the physical activity in a brain to pull off that trick but not
> the physical activity in a computer. 

But I have. You just don't believe me or understand me or both.

> Even if it's true that computers only do syntax and syntax can't 
> produce meaning (it isn't, since logically there is nowhere else for 
> meaning to come from)

I think that last thought of yours needs some work. :)

You say "logically there is nowhere else for meaning to come from", but *logically* nothing can get semantics from knowing rules of syntax, or vocabulary from knowing rules of grammar. 

Instead of accepting an illogical answer to the question of meaning as you seem wont to do, I submit that the only logical choice is to accept that brains do something we don't yet fully understand. That leaves us with a bit of a mystery, but at least we haven't sacrificed logic to get there.

We would be pretty arrogant to pretend that we fully understand the human brain in 2010. We don't yet know even why George Foreman fell down in the 8th round against Muhammad Ali. Neuroscience is still in its infancy.



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