death of the mind.

David Longley David at
Sun Jul 11 03:27:22 EST 2004

In article <8d8494cf.0407102125.1ae8184a at>, dan
michaels <feedbackdroids at> writes
>"John Hasenkam" <johnh at faraway.> wrote in message news:<40f
>0105f at>...
>I suppose one way to approach this is to
>> conceive of indoctrination as the beginning of education, hopefully
>> thereafter the student can move on. Nor does the application of Skinner's
>> ideas to humans constitute "unethical" behavior. He is simply asking us to
>> be more conscious of how our behavior is shaped and how his ideas can allow
>> us to better shape behavior without resort to practises that have been going
>> on since day dot. 20 years ago I read Beyond Freedom and Dignity and thought
>> it was fascist. I've grown up somewhat since then. Wherefore art thou
>> freedom Johnno?
>Well, it WAS facist 20 years ago. But now society has caught up with
>it. Ever hear of the "The Fourth Turning"? In those 20 years you've
>learned that there has been nothing for you to take credit nor
>responsibility for. Life has played its hand. Maybe that's "true"
>freedom. Remember what Socrates said just before drinking hemlock?
>You might also want to take a look at Freedom Evolves by Dennett. It
>is to 2004 what BFAD was to 1954. Don't miss the part about the
>spectre of creeping exculpation. It's not my fault. My car broke down.
>The bus was late. I didn't have taxi fare. My bicycle had a flat tire.
>The plane couldn't leave the gate. The air controllers were on strike.
>We circled for 6 hours over Chicago. My brain cells went on strike.
>Amyloid is dogging my tracks. My sympathetic nervous system is out of
>wack. And so it goes.

As usual, little of what you write makes sense. "Beyond Freedom and
Dignity" was published in 1971, and is, history shows, all too easily
misunderstood. Secondly, what you're describing in your last paragraph
is more akin to the folk psychological instrumentalism which
characterises Fodors LOT and Dennett's Intentional Stance. Fodor, like
Dennett makes a pigs ear of the history of psychology in my view, as did
Chomsky. These opportunists appear to be your mentors.

Here's something I said in c.a.p as far back as in August 1995, which is
in the early part of "Fragments"
<>. It has been discussed and
explicated in so many ways since that your above comments should I think
be taken by other reads as an ongoing illustrations of just how
resistant to corrective evidence people's prejudices and other
intensional heuristics are. This has been a point I have been making for
several years in this newsgroup. It accounts not only for why "Cognitive
Skills" programmes are so ineffective, but why so much of "AI" is
misguided as well.

You don't understand how little you understand of what you read on these



Any explanation which is

  '....relative to the purposes and knowledge of the inquirer....'

is precisely what I have taken issue with in 'Fragments of Behaviour:
The Extensional Stance'. Here was how Geach dealt with Fodor in 1980:

    'Fodor  thinks that when we explain behaviour by  mental
    causes,   these   causes   would   be   given   "opaque"
    descriptions  "true  in  virtue of  the  way  the  agent
    represents   the  objects  of  his  wants   (intentions,
    beliefs,  etc.) to HIMSELF" (his emphasis). But what  an
    agent  intends may be widely different from the  way  he
    represents the object of his intention to himself. A man
    cannot shuck off the responsibility for killing  another
    man by just 'directing his intention' at the firing of a

           "I press a trigger - Well, I'm blessed!
            he's hit my bullet with his chest!"'

    P. Geach
    Commentary on J A Fodor's
    Methodological Solipsism Considered as a Research Strategy in
    Cognitive Psychology
    Brain and Behavior Sciences (1980) vol 3, p80

I think there *is* a problem here, and it is one that we, working in the
field of 'corrections*' have to deal with. The material I review in  the
set of articles entitled 'Fragments......' ( 29/7/95).

It's an issue which, (understandably given the basic issue which
prompted Fodor to  write  his paper) which changes its complexion as one
considers it in different  contexts.  Putnam's 'Representation and
Reality' (1988) and Quine's 'Pursuit of Truth' (1992) are about as far
as I have got with the issues.

Do you (or anyone else) have anything further?

* Inferences in such contexts, ie predictions, can be insidious.
David Longley

David Longley

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