the homunculus

F. Frank LeFever flefever at ix.netcom.com
Sat Apr 10 19:57:13 EST 1999


Just a note to express my agreement.  Re Searle: I heard him speak
"recently" (probably Dec. 1997, at ARNMD annual meeting) and was very
attentive, alert to hear his definition of "consciousness" if (for
once) he offered one.  Indeed, early in his talk he alluded to the
problem of defining the term, but so far as I could tell did not
actually attempt it at any time in the rest of his talk.  I asked a
colleague afterwards if he had heard a definition, and he said he had
not heard one.  

It is mind-boggling that one can have such an exalted reputation and 
be so much in demand as a speaker on this topic and yet shirk the
"Philosophy 101" basic task of defining one's terms before discussing
their supposed referents and pontificating on them.

His IMPLICIT definition does indeed seem to be something along the
lines you suggest it is: something carbon-based life-forms with DNA can
have and others can not.  Armed with this implicit assumption he can
then go through the motions of demonstrating that a computer cannot be
conscious; unnecessary work (the conclusion predetermined) but
well-paid.

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group






In <370e94ca.0 at ns2.wsg.net> "Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at wsg.net> writes: 
>
>
>The homunculus is the little man (green?) who sits in the middle of
the
>head, watching a TV set, and punching buttons. We are too
sophisticated to
>believe in such a little man, instead we have the soul (mind,
intellect,
>self, that which stands behind the brain, that which is other). The
soul
>(mind) selects from the data proffered by the brain, manipulates the
data,
>reaches a decision, and forwards the result to the brain for
execution.
>
>Do we really need such an entity?
>
>It seems that many, who profess materialism but are actually dualists,
need
>one. They need something or someone to do the "thinking". The notion
of a
>brain composed of neurons, each doing its own little thing, being a
>structure that can remember, associate, think, and decide is
unsettling.
>
>All those who ask, "Can the machine think?" are in need of a soul
(mind) to
>be associated with the machine.
>
>John Searle says that a formal system will never give rise to a soul
(mind).
>He apparently thinks a soul (mind) will only show up in an organism
carbon
>based and driven by a DNA molecule.
>
>All those who claim that emotion is necessary for an advance in AI are
>invoking an homunculus.
>
>All those who say we can never explain a brain by itself, we may only
>understand it embedded in a culture are also invoking homunculi.
>
>Ray
>Those interested in how the brain works might look at
>www.wsg.net/~rscanlon/brain.html
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>




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