Having Thought: Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Having Thought: Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

John Haugeland

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0674004159

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The unifying theme of these thirteen essays is understanding. What is it? What does it take to have it? What does it presuppose in what can be understood? In the first group of essays, John Haugeland addresses mind and intelligence. Intelligibility comes to the fore in a set of “metaphysical” pieces on analog and digital systems and supervenience. In the third set of papers, Haugeland elaborates and then undermines a battery of common presuppositions about the foundational notions of intentionality and representation. Finally, the fourth and most recent group of essays confronts the essential character of understanding in relation to what is understood. The necessary interdependence between personality and intelligence is developed and explained, specifically in the conditions of the possibility of objective scientific knowledge.

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Actually, in a complete reduction of a fancy computer program, there can be several stages of intentional instantiation. Thus, lisp languages are generally written (compiled) in still more basic languages—say, ones in which the only ibb abilities are number-crunching and inequality testing (the conditional branch). The last intentional instantiation is in a primitive “machine language”, socalled because that is the one which is finally reduced by physical Copyright © 1998 The President and

in this case, there is nothing anomalous about pants with paint on them—they would even clash with ‘stylish’, explaining the conjunction ‘Though …’. On that reading, however, the sentence would be silly, whereas the metaphor is so apt that most people don’t even notice the alternative. These examples are meant only to illustrate the subtlety of common sense. They show that no obvious or crude representation will capture it, and suggest that a sophisticated, cross-referenced encyclopedia may not

Parking the car in the garage (in the normal manner) is a positive procedure, if getting it all the way in is all it takes to succeed; but if complete success requires getting it exactly centered between the walls, then no parking procedure will be positive. There is no positive procedure for cutting a six-foot board, but there are plenty for cutting boards six feet, plus or minus an inch. The ‘can succeed’ means feasibly, and that will depend on the technology and resources available. But we

Spinoza’s system is symmetrical: it entails mental exhaustion as well. The point is that brilliantly kooky metaphysics knows no bounds. (If the seventeenth century doesn’t persuade you, try the nineteenth.) I don’t think any definitive principle will ever suffice to rule out all and only those systems that are currently embarrassing. In other words, I expect that we will need our new corollary to handle arbitrarily many peculiar schemes that are compatible with supervenience, physical exhaustion,

semantically articulated—that is, systematically composed of atomic symbols and operations, such that the content and validity of the composites is structurally determined by that of their components. The relevant formal level, therefore, is not physical but syntactical, and hence also digital. Vapid reduction to syntactical operations and operands suffices for materialism, however, because we know independently how to reduce these to physics—or, at any rate, how to “implement” them in physical

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