Matter & Memory

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Apr 5 08:03:07 PDT 2000

>>> "Dace" <edace at> 04/05/00 02:59AM >>>
>Brad De Long wrote:
>> Searle's argument proves that a collection of electro-chemically
>> activated cells can fulfill the functions of a mind without anything
>> within the collection comprehending *anything.* That means we have no
>> basis for believing that brains "think," i.e. engage in cognition.
>> Now, do you have any response to this argument?
>That is correct. We also do not have any reason to believe that
>any potential candidate for the task of thinker exists. I suppose
>myself the "answer" (assuming answers can be found to every
>question humans choose to ask) will be found somewhere in
>the general realm of the intersections of neuroscience and
>social relations. Or we might not ever know. Worse things
>have happened to the human species. One of those
>worse things would be to sink into the pit of religion.

I've got a candidate. How about you, Carrol? Are you not the thinker in your mind? I certainly am in mine. And I think everyone reading this post is probably thinking something or other as well. We start with this.

-clip-It's the beginning of philosophy, the one assumption we can really count on, __________

CB: This sounds just like Descartes.


We start with the assumption that each of us exists. We are not images which depend for their existence on someone imagining us, for that someone could only be ourselves, which puts us back where we started. It's the beginning of philosophy, the one assumption we can really count on, because we all have unmediated knowledge of its truth. Starting philosophy without the recognition of one's own self-existence is like performing a long algorithm, and since the very first step is wrong, further steps only lead deeper into cognitive error.


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