john searle

All posts tagged john searle

I think that his Chinese Room argument entirely misses the point of the functionalist perspective. He proposes the software as the “aware thing” rather than understanding that it would be the interactions between components and the PROCESSES which would be, together, the thing.

That is, in the Chinese Room, he says that a person in a room who has been given a set of call-and-response variable rules that govern which Chinese characters they are to put together in what order in which situations DOES NOT KNOW CHINESE. And He’s Right. That person is a functional component in a larger system—the room—which uses all of its components to communicate.

In short, The Room Itself Knows Chinese. The room, and the builders, and the people who presented the rules, and the person who performs the physical operations all form the “Mind” that “Knows” “The Language.”

So, bringing the metaphor back around, “A Mind,” for functionalists, is any combination of processes which can reflexively and reflectively engage inputs, outputs, and desires. A cybernetic feedback loop of interaction and awareness. In that picture of a mind, the “software” isn’t consciousness. The process is consciousness.

TL;DR: He’s wrong, for a number of reasons, of which “an imperfect understanding or potentially intentional miscasting of functionalism” is just one.