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Comment on Searle's Chinese Room
The argument proves too much: among other things it proves that John Searle does not think...
ARTICLE INFOSearle's Chinese Room argument--if valid--proves, among other things, that John Searle does not understand English.
Searle's Chinese Room
added 2001 june 22 by Rich
Further Comment on Searle's Chinese Room
added 2001 april 07 by redfox
In the Chinese Room argument, people would write questions in Chinese on cards and pass them through a slot to an operator in the room: analogously, people ask questions in English of the body "John Searle."
In the Chinese Room argument, the operator of the room couldn't understand or speak Chinese, but she did have a big set of instructions written in English for manipulating the Chinese characters, including looking stuff up in books full of other Chinese characters and doing lots of other systematic stuff that she didn't understand at all: analogously, there is no one cubic millimeter of John Searle's brain that "understands" English--but there are "instructions" and patterns for message-passing within the brain.
In the Chinese Room argument, finally the operator would end up with a set of Chinese characters that she'd write down on a piece of paper and pass it out of the room: analogously, finally John Searle's brain will produce signals that will cause the body "John Searle" to "reply".
In the Chinese Room argument, the people outside the room wouldn't get to see the inside--they'd only pass questions in and get sensible answers back. Now, does the room display intelligence? Does it understand Chinese? John Searle says "no." Analogously, the people outside John Searle's body don't get to see the inside--they only pass questions in and get sensible answers back.
Does John Searle understand English? The force of Searle's argument would seem to inevitably lead to the conclusion "no" if Searle is right in concluding that his argument demonstrates that the Chinese Room does not understand Chinese.
It is hard to understand why a philosopher would like to make arguments that entail the conclusion that he is incapable of thought--capable only of a clever simulation of thought. But chacun a son gout...