[ExI] digital simulations, descriptions and copies

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 21 13:43:59 UTC 2010

--- On Thu, 1/21/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> But finding a physical correlate does not provide an
> "explanation". I can stubbornly point out that there is no logical
> pathway from a lump of matter to meaning, even if there is an apparent
> correlation. 

To say "there is no logical pathway from a lump of matter to meaning" is equivalent to saying that mind and matter exist in separate realms. It seems then that you really do want to espouse the mind/matter dualism handed down to us from Descartes. 

> This is at least as convincing as your assertion that syntax
> can't produce meaning. 

That's just strictly logical argument. You don't like it, but it remains nevertheless true that the man in the chinese room cannot understand the meanings of the symbols merely from manipulating them according to syntactic rules the way computers actually do. At least you (and nobody else) have not shown how that miracle can happen.

> All you can do then is point to the brain and say, but there is the
> proof, it thinks, you just have to accept it as a raw fact. 

Yes. That's all I can do.

> So why can't someone point to a computer and say the same thing

People can point all they want, but they need to explain how a program and its hardware can get semantics from the syntactic rules programmed into the machine by the programmer. We don't know exactly how the natural brain does it, but it sure looks like it cannot do it *that* way.



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