Searle-Myth of the Computre

Searle-Myth of the Computre - The Myth of the Computer -...

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The Myth of the Computer - The New York Review of Books http://www.nybooks.com/articles/6628 1 of 7 11/23/07 9:00 PM VOLUME 29, NUMBER 7 · APRIL 29, 1982 The Myth of the Computer By John R. Searle The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul composed and arranged by Douglas R. Hofstadter, by Daniel C. Dennett Basic Books, 501 pp., $16.95 Our ordinary ways of talking about ourselves and other people, of justifying our behavior and explaining that of others, express a certain conception of human life that is so close to us, so much a part of common sense that we can hardly see it. It is a conception according to which each person has (or perhaps is ) a mind; the contents of the mind—beliefs, fears, hopes, motives, desires, etc.—cause and therefore explain our actions; and the continuity of our minds is the source of our individuality and identity as persons. In the past couple of centuries we have also become convinced that this common-sense psychology is grounded in the brain, that these mental states and events are somehow, we are not quite sure how, going on in the neurophysiological processes of the brain. So this leaves us with two levels at which we can describe and explain human beings: a level of common-sense psychology, which seems to work well enough in practice but which is not scientific; and a level of neurophysiology, which is certainly scientific but which even the most advanced specialists know very little about. But couldn't there be a third possibility, a science of human beings that was not introspective common-sense psychology but was not neurophysiology either? This has been the great dream of the human sciences in the twentieth century, but so far all of the efforts have been, in varying degrees, failures. The most spectacular failure was behaviorism, but in my intellectual lifetime I have lived through exaggerated hopes placed on and disappointed by games theory, cybernetics, information theory, generative grammar, structuralism, and Freudian psychology, among others. Indeed it has become something of a scandal of twentieth-century intellectual life that we lack a science of the human mind and human behavior, that the methods of the natural sciences have produced such meager results when applied to human beings. T he latest candidate or family of candidates to fill the gap is called cognitive science, a collection of related investigations into the human mind involving psychology, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and artificial intelligence. Cognitive science is really the name of a family of research projects and not a theory, but many of its practitioners think that the heart of cognitive science is a theory of the mind based on artificial intelligence (AI). According to this theory minds just are computer programs of certain kinds. The main ideological aim of
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2011 for the course PHIL 201 taught by Professor Mikegold during the Spring '11 term at NYU.

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Searle-Myth of the Computre - The Myth of the Computer -...

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