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Re: A paper contrasting Wittgenstein and Dennett on consciousness

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  • SWM
    ... http://herts.academia.edu/DanielDHutto/Papers/663851/Consciousness_Demystified_A _Wittgensteinian_Critique_of_Dennetts_Project ... I want to take a
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 8, 2013
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      --- In ai-philosophy@yahoogroups.com, Eray Ozkural <erayo@...> wrote:
      > http://www.academia.edu/653799/Consciousness_Demystified_A_Wittgensteinian_Critique_of_Dennetts_Project
      >
      > --
      > Eray Ozkural
      >


      Have taken the liberty of re-posting this, Eray, from my response to this same article when it was introduced by Sean on his Philosophy and Science of Mind List:


      --- In Phil-Sci-Mind@yahoogroups.com, "seanwilsonorg" <whoooo26505@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      http://herts.academia.edu/DanielDHutto/Papers/663851/Consciousness_Demystified_A\
      _Wittgensteinian_Critique_of_Dennetts_Project
      >

      <snip>

      I want to take a little more time to complete my reply to the Hutto article, begun last night. I've selected a series of excerpts from the second part of his paper (it appears to be in draft form since there are a lot of typos and no pagination) to which I will add my comments along the way (offered in upper case letters to distinguish my text from his):

      Hutto writes -

      . . . in collaborating to create your heterophenomenological world I hear you say "I see a purple cow". But what is it that I take you to be saying? How I am to understand the meaning of that report? IS it referring to some item in your notional world? What is it about my knowledge of English that enables me to 'know what you mean'? It cannot be that I understand you because I know what kind of notional objects your words designate. For, to put the point succinctly, the private language argument will work just as effectively against objects in a 'notional world' as in a 'private' inner world. Beetles in boxes are beetles in boxes, whether they are real or notional.


      IT SEEMS TO ME THAT HUTTO HERE MISUNDERSTANDS DENNETT'S POINT ABOUT THE FICTIONAL NATURE (FICTIONAL IN A SPECIALIZED WAY OF COURSE) OF OUR NOTIONS, AND ESPECIALLY NOTIONS ABOUT THE ELEMENTS OF OUR OWN MINDS. TO HAVE A WAY WE THINK OF OUR MENTAL WORLD, AS CONSISTING OF VARIOUS DISTINCT ELEMENTS WHICH WE ATTEMPT TO PICK OUT LINGUISTICALLY (BUT WITHOUT ANYTHING LIKE THE PARTICULARITY -- PRECISION? -- WE ATTAIN IN PICKING OUT PUBLIC PHENOMENA) IS NOT TO ASSUME THAT THERE ARE BEETLES TO BE FOUND AND SO IS ENTIRELY CONSISTENT WITH WITTGENSTEIN'S BEETLE IN THE BOX PICTURE. MOREOVER, WHEN HUTTO ASKS WHAT IT IS TO UNDERSTAND A REFERENCE TO A PURPLE COW, AND DENIES THAT THERE CAN BE A MENTAL PICTURE OF PURPLE COWS THAT TWO LANGUAGE SPEAKERS WHO APPARENTLY UNDERSTAND THIS REFERENCE MUST HAVE IN COMMON, HE HAS SAID NOTHING AGAINST DENNETT'S ARGUMENT.

      THE WITTGENSTEINIAN VIEW WHICH TELLS US THAT MEANING IN A LARGE NUMBER OF CASES IS JUST THE USE WE PUT OUR WORDS TO IS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH AN IDEA LIKE THE INDETERMINACY OF TRANSLATION, AS ADVANCED BY QUINE. QUINE MAY BE NO WITTGENSTEINIAN IN HIS LARGER PHILOSOPHICAL PROJECT BUT ONE DOESN'T HAVE TO DENY WITTGENSTEIN'S INSIGHT THAT "PURPLE COW" DOES NOT DERIVE ITS MEANING FROM SOME COMMON PICTURE, QUA MENTAL OBJECT, THAT THE TWO SPEAKERS HAVE IN COMMON, IN ORDER TO EMBRACE THE WITTGENSTEINIAN IDEA THAT THE MEANING OF OUR WORDS IS LARGELY FOUND IN THEIR USE. THERE'S NOTHING IN THE MEANING AS USE IDEA THAT REQUIRES US TO DOUBT OR DENY THAT OUR USES ARE UNDERWRITTEN BY REPRESENTATIONS WHICH INCLUDE MENTAL IMAGES. WITTGENSTEIN, HIMSELF, WAS NO DENIER OF SUCH IMAGES SINCE HE OFTEN REFERRED TO OUR HAVING THIS OR THAT PICTURE IN MIND WHEN WE SAY OR DO CERTAIN THINGS.

      HERE I WOULD LIKE TO RECALL ANOTHER EXPERIENCE I'VE HAD AND OFTEN TALKED ABOUT IN THESE DISCUSSIONS: THAT TIME I WAS DRIVING THROUGH THE CAROLINAS WITH MY WIFE AND THINKING ABOUT LANGUAGE AND MEANING AND SUDDENLY, SEEING A ROAD SIGN WITH AN UNFAMILIAR VERNACULAR, DREW A BLANK. ALTHOUGH I UNDERSTOOD THE WORDS AS ENGLISH AND EACH OF THE WORDS INDIVIDUALLY, I GOT A MENTAL PICTURE WHICH WAS ENTIRELY
      DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING THAT MIGHT HAVE MADE SENSE IN THAT CONTEXT.
      THE SIGN SAID SOMETHING LIKE "BURN LIGHTS WITH WIPERS" AND I GOT AN IMAGE OF A BONFIRE WITH PEOPLE TOSSING LIGHT BULBS AND WINDSHIELD WIPER BLADES ONTO IT. IT ONLY LASTED AN INSTANT AND WHILE I WAS THINKING THAT, HOLDING THAT PICTURE IN MY MIND, I WAS CONFUSED.

      THEN I MADE THE ADJUSTMENT AND GOT A DIFFERENT PICTURE, ONE THAT MADE SENSE IN THE CONTEXT OF DRIVING ON A ROAD AS A DIRECTION FOR DRIVERS. I REALIZED THE UNFAMILIAR ARRANGEMENT OF FAMILIAR WORDS I HAD SEEN WERE A LOCAL IDIOM FOR SOMETHING THAT I MIGHT HAVE SAID TO DRIVERS WERE I WRITING THE TEXT OF THE SIGN: "TURN ON HEADLIGHTS WHEN RUNNING WINDHSIELD WIPER BLADES".

      AT THAT POINT, I GOT A MENTAL IMAGE OF MYSELF DRIVING IN THE RAIN, LEANING OVER TO SWITCH ON MY CAR'S HEADLIGHTS AS THE WINDSHIELD WIPER BLADES WERE RUNNING. AND ANOTHER IMAGE OF ME CRASHING MY CAR WITHOUT THE LIGHTS ON BECAUSE THE VISIBILITY WAS SO POOR SOME OTHER VEHICLE HADN'T SEEN ME. AND MORE SUCH PICTURES KEPT RUNNING THROUGH MY MIND UNTIL I TURNED TO MY WIFE TO TRY TO EXPLAIN TO HER WHAT I HAD BEEN THINKING ABOUT, HOW I HAD FIRST MISCONSTRUED AND THEN UNDERSTOOD THE SIGN'S TEXT, AND SHE, HAVING NO INTEREST IN SUCH STRAINED PHILOSOPHICAL MUSINGS, CHANGED THE SUBJECT AND WE WENT ON TO TALK OF OTHER THINGS (AND I, TO HAVE OTHER QUITE UNRELATED PICTURES).

      DIFFERENT PICTURES, DIFFERENT MEANINGS. SO THEN I THOUGHT HOW COULD THAT MEANING WHICH THE SIGNMAKERS WANTED TO CONVEY PASS FROM THEM TO THE DRIVERS THEY INTENDED TO COMMUNICATE WITH? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT ANY TWO DRIVERS WOULD HAVE THE SAME PICTURE AFTER ALL? WOULDN'T OTHER DRIVERS MENTALLY "SEE" VERY DIFFERENT THINGS THAN I DID, SINCE WHAT I SAW REFLECTED MY OWN HISTORY, MY OWN EXPERIENCES AND WHAT THEY SAW WOULD REFLECT THEIRS? AND YET SUCH SIGNS ARE TYPICALLY EFFECTIVE, I.E., MEANINGS ARE CONVEYED!

      THIS LED ME TO THE NOTION THAT MEANING LAY NOT IN SOME ONE-TO-ONE CORRELATION BETWEEN A WORD OR PHRASE AND A MENTAL PICTURE BUT, RATHER, THAT IT WAS A FUNCTION OF A VAST NETWORK OF PICTURES AND THAT, TO THE DEGREE THAT ANY TWO SPEAKERS SHARE ROUGHLY SIMILAR PICTURES (OR NETWORKS OF ROUGHLY SIMILAR PICTURES), THEY WILL UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER. BUT THE KEY IS "ROUGHLY SIMILAR" NOT THE SAME. MEANING, I CONCLUDED, LAY IN THE CROSSING OF A CERTAIN THRESHOLD OF ROUGH SIMILARITY, NOT IN ACHIEVING A PERFECT MATCH IN THE MENTAL PICTURES VARIOUS SPEAKERS MAY BE HAVING.

      SO ANY TWO OF US MAY HAVE, BASED ON OUR HISTORIES, A VAST ARRAY OF DIFFERENT PICTURES WHEN WE HEAR OR READ THE SAME WORD OR PHRASE. AND YET WE UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER (WHEN WE DO UNDERSTAND!) BECAUSE THERE IS A BROAD COMMONALITY, A CRITICAL MASS OF RELATED PICTURES. ON THIS VIEW MEANING IS DYNAMIC AND ENDLESSLY FORMING AND REFORMING IN THE CONTEXT OF LINGUISTIC USAGE (WHICH IS FULLY CONSISTENT WITH ANOTHER IMPORTANT WITTGENSTEINIAN INSIGHT, THAT LANGUAGE IS IN CONSTANT FLUX AND THAT MEANING IS GENERALLY DERIVED FROM THE USES WE PUT OUR
      WORDS TO). IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THIS VIEW IS NOT ONLY CONSISTENT WITH THE WITTGENSTEINIAN INSIGHT THAT MEANINGS ARE NOT FOUND IN PRIVATE MENTAL OBJECTS, WHICH HUTTO REMINDS US OF, BUT WITH A NOTION, LIKE DENNETT'S, THAT CONSCIOUSNESS (INCLUDING THE GETTING OR RECOGNITION OF MEANINGS) IS A COMPLEX ARRAY OF BRAIN PROCESSES DOING A GREAT MANY THINGS IN A CERTAIN WAY.


      Hutto -

      Having seen the folly of thinking that you are referring to a private object of experience when making an utterance about your state of mind, Dennett does not go on to provide any plausible positive account as to how we might make sense of such utterances even though "typically, he has subjects being conscious only of the content of their mental states".27 But if this is the case why doesn't Dennett give more attention to the content of the 'seeming' reports about conscious seemings? He doesn't even begin to seriously address such questions other than to appeal to the fact that for most 'conscious beings' who speak the same language it will be unproblematic to determine what they mean. I believe he is faced with this problem because, despite his reduction of consciousness to the intentional, Dennett is also deeply suspicious of 'meaning' and follows a Quinean eliminativist line treating 'meaning' as non-objective and hence of second-rate importance.


      I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE SECOND-RATE IMPORTANCE REFERENCE BUT IT DOES SEEM TO ME THAT DENNETT'S VIEW IS CONSISTENT WITH QUINE'S NOTION OF THE INDETERMINACY OF TRANSLATION BUT THAT THAT QUINEAN VIEW IS ALSO CONSISTENT WITH WITTGENSTEIN'S NOTION THAT LANGUAGE IS A SOMEWHAT OPEN-ENDED SET OF PRACTICES (RULE FOLLOWING) WHICH CONSISTS OF MANY DISTINGUISHABLE LANGUAGE GAMES THAT INTERLOCK IN ACTUAL
      PRACTICE AND ARE SUBJECT TO ONGOING CHANGE. NOTHING DAMNING IN HIS CRITICISM OF DENNETT HERE!


      Hutto -

      I do not decide that I am in pain by first noticing a cut on my leg, nor do I decide this by noticing that I am having an 'inner' sensation of pain by some process of introspection. I simply feel pain and say so. Psychological language is 'expressive' not'referential'. This is why "a lie about inner processes is of a different category form [from?] one about outer processes".30 My linguistic utterances of pain are 'natural extensions' of, or replacements for, my earlier ways of expressing pain - i.e. shouting, bawling, etc. A development of more
      primitive forms of response that we share with animals. It is because
      psychological language is expressive that Johnson tells us that the basis of our sophisticated kind of language game is more to do with sincerity than accuracy.31 Accuracy presupposes some independent means of verification and that is precisely what we lack in this case. Hence, Wittgenstein encourages us to treat the speech acts concerning our 'inner life' as confessional in nature. He writes: "What is the importance of someone making this or that confession? Does he have to be able to judge his condition correctly? What matters here is not an
      inner condition he judges,but just his confession."32 And of course "confession is of course something exterior".33


      THAT WITTGENSTEIN RIGHTLY NOTICED THAT, MUCH OF THE TIME WHEN WE SPEAK OF OUR SENSATIONS, SUCH AS PAIN, WE ARE EXPRESSING SOMETHING RATHER THAN DESCRIBING OR EVEN REFERRING TO SOMETHING, DOES NOT IMPLY THAT IT IS ALWAYS SO. MY OWN EXPERIENCE ON ENTERING AN EMERGENCY ROOM, WHERE THE DOCTORS ASKED ME IF I WAS IN PAIN (I WASN'T BUT CLEARLY WAS IN DISTRESS), IS AN IMPORTANT CASE IN POINT. WAS I, IN SAYING YES WHEN, UNDER ORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES I WOULD HAVE SAID NO, MERELY FAKING IT? SHOULD THEY HAVE TESTED ME TO SEE IF I WAS LYING? THAT IS SIMPLY ABSURD. WHAT THEY WANTED AT THAT POINT WAS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERSON WHO WAS BEFORE THEM, A PERSON IN APPARENT DISTRESS IN A VARIETY OF CLEARLY OBSERVABLE WAYS. AND WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TO GIVE THEM THAT INFORMATION. ON THIS VIEW, IT IS ABSURD TO TAKE THE WITTGENSTEINIAN POINT THAT TO SAY "I HAVE PAIN" IS JUST TO SAY "OUCH!" AS EXHAUSTIVE. NOR DO I THINK WITTGENSTEIN WOULD HAVE DONE SO. AFTER ALL, AS HUTTO REMINDS US BELOW, HE NEVER DENIED THAT WE HAVE INNER LIVES! I CHOSE TO REFER TO MY "PAIN" (THOUGH IT WAS A MISLEADING REFERENCE IN THE ORDINARY WAY BUT NOT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PARTICULAR SITUATION). AND THE DOCTORS WERE INTERESTED IN THAT REFERENCE. WHERE WAS IT? WHAT BEST DESCRIBED IT? SOMETIMES EVEN A WITTGENSTEINIAN MAY BE CALLED UPON TO REFER TO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE.


      Hutto -

      Wittgenstein reminds us that: "Above all pretence has its own outward signs. How could we otherwise talk about pretence at all?".34 Moreover he makes it perfectly clear how we are to treat such cases when he talks about the role trust plays in dealing with another's psychology. He writes: "Do I pay any mind to his inner processes if I trust him? If I don't trust him I say, "I don't know what's going on inside him". But if I trust him, I don't say I know what's going on inside him."35 That is to say, if I do trust him I treat his utterances as being genuinely expressive - just as in a more primitive setting his facial or other bodily expressions would be transparent to me. If there is an asymmetry between these cases it [is] just the opposite of what one would expect if we thought there were objects of consciousness. In the case where there is pain we can get by with just the 'expression', in the case of pretence, where there is no 'pain' we must treat the utterance as serving a different and potentially deceptive function. The point is that we need not return to the idea of a reified mind in order to make logical space for the possibility of 'pretence'.


      THIS IS TRUE ENOUGH AND NOT AT ALL AT ODDS WITH A VIEW SUCH AS THE ONE I'VE DESCRIBED HERE, I.E., THAT WE CAN AND DO SOMETIMES HAVE OCCASION TO REFER TO THE ELEMENTS OF OUR MENTAL LIVES. THE DOCTORS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM WANTED TO KNOW MORE THAN MY FEELING. THEY NEEDED INFORMATION THAT WOULD HELP THEM MAKE SENSE OF HOW I WAS PRESENTING AND SO BY SAYING YES TO THE "DO YOU HAVE PAIN IN YOUR CHEST" QUESTION I WAS NOT EXPRESSING PAIN (SAYING OUCH) NOR WAS I LYING TO THEM. I WAS INTERPRETING THEIR QUESTION AND PROVIDING A REFERENTIAL ANSWER TO IT WHICH TURNED OUT TO BE WHAT THEY WANTED.

      SO AM I SAYING THAT MEANING IS WHAT WE HAVE IN MIND WHEN WE USE A WORD OR PHRASE (WHICH DOES NOT SOUND AT ALL LIKE WITTGENSTEIN'S MEANING AS USE PROPOSAL)? WELL YES, I AM. BUT WHAT WE HAVE IN MIND NEED NOT BE THE SAME AT EVERY LEVEL OF DETAIL. WE NEED NOT EXPECT TO FIND A PERFECT ONE TO ONE CORRELATION BETWEEN A WORD AND A PICTURE. WE ONLY NEED TO FIND ENOUGH SIMILARITY IN PICTURES TO PROMPT CORRECT RESPONSES. AT A CERTAIN LEVEL OF DETAIL DIFFERENCES WILL NOT MATTER. BUT, AS WITH THE CASE OF THE ROAD SIGN, WHERE WAS NO BEHAVIOR OF A SPEAKER TO INTERPRET THE WORDS' MEANING, THE MENTAL IMAGES PROVIDE THE BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING SINCE THEY PROMPT THE RIGHT BEHAVIOR AS LONG AS THERE IS ENOUGH COMMONALITY IN THE PICTURES HELD BY THE SPEAKER (OR WRITER) AND THE LISTENER (OR READER). ANY EFFORT TO PROGRAM UNDERSTANDING INTO AN AI WOULD THUS SEEM TO REQUIRE INTRODUCTION OF A CAPACITY TO REPRESENT A COMPLEX ARRAY OF ASSOCIATED IMAGES IN SUCH MACHINES IN ROUGHLY THE SAME WAY THEY ARE REPRESENTED IN BRAINS. BUT THIS IS HARDLY CONTRARY TO THE WITTGENSTEINIAN DENIAL OF PRIVATE LANGUAGE OR HIS NOTION OF MEANING AS USE.


      Hutto -

      Is this, in effect, a reduction of the inner to outer behaviour? Wittgenstein constantly rejects this interpretation of his project. This occurs in many places in the later writings. I have collected but a few to support my view that it is wrong to read him as sponsoring behaviourism in any form.

      "the impression that we wanted to deny something arises from our setting our faces against the picture of the 'inner process'. What we deny is that the picture of the inner process gives us the correct idea of the use of the [psychological]word[s] 36 Are you not really a behaviourist in disguise? Aren't you at bottom really saying that everything except human behaviour is a fiction?" If I do speak of a fiction, then it is of a grammatical fiction.37"

      "we have to deny the yet uncomprehended process in the yet uncomprehended medium. And now it looks as if we had denied mental processes. And naturally we don't want to deny them.38"

      "But am I not really speaking only of the outer? ... it is as if I wanted to explain (quasi-define) the inner through the outer. And yet it isn't so.39"

      [Wittgenstein] writes: "The connection of inner and outer is part of these concepts. We don't draw this connection in order to magically remove the inner. There are inner concepts and outer concepts." 40 Thus, although Wittgenstein is often regarded as the grand guru of 'logical behaviourism' with respect to 'the mental', it is in fact more appropriate that Dennett should wear this title. For Wittgenstein the inner is not demystified through elimination it is demystified
      because in attending to the nature of psychological language our understanding of 'consciousness' is, to use Mulhall's words, 'de-mythologized'.

      I AGREE WITH HUTTO'S ASSESSMENT THAT WITTGENSTEIN IS VERY FAR FROM BEING BEHAVIORIST ALTHOUGH AS WE SAW WHEN GLENN SIZEMORE AND GERARDO USED TO ARGUE FOR BEHAVIORISM, PERHAPS THE NOTION THAT WITTGENSTEIN IS TRYING TO DIFFERENTIATE HIMSELF FROM WAS NEVER WHAT TRUE BEHAVIORISTS REALLY MEANT AT ALL. I AM NOT ENTIRELY CERTAIN, MYSELF, BUT AT LEAST THE TWO AFOREMENTIONED INDIVIDUALS HAVE ARGUED ON OTHER LISTS THAT MAINSTREAM PHILOSOPHY HAS GOT BEHAVIORISM WRONG.

      HOWEVER, I THINK HUTTO IS QUITE WRONG TO PLACE DENNETT IN THE BEHAVIORIST CAMP, ESPECIALLY IN THE (POSSIBLY IMAGINED) CAMP OF BEHAVIORISTS WHO COMPLETELY DENY AN INNER WORLD. DENNETT'S WHOLE POINT IN HIS WORK IS TO EXPLAIN THE INNER WORLD.

      NOW HUTTO SEEMS TO THINK ONE CANNOT DO THAT. YET THERE CAN BE NO DENYING THAT 1) THERE ARE SUBJECTS WITH EXPERIENCE AND 2) BRAINS APPEAR TO BE THE SOURCE/CAUSE OF THAT EXPERIENCE, OF THAT SUBJECTIVITY. SO THERE IS A LEGITIMATE SCIENTIFIC QUESTION HERE OF HOW SUBJECTIVITY/EXPERIENCE COMES TO BE. AND, TO ANSWER THAT, WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS. TAKING REFUGE IN WITTGENSTEIN'S INSIGHTS CONCERNING PRIVATE LANGUAGE AND THE NON-EXISTENCE OF MENTAL OBJECTS STRIKES ME AS MISSING THE POINT, PERHAPS EVEN DOING SO INTENTIONALLY.

      IF BRAINS DO CAUSE MINDS (AND THAT SEEMS A QUITE REASONABLE HYPOTHESIS!) THEN THERE IS A LEGITIMATE SCIENTIFIC QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED ABOUT THAT. HOW DO THEY DO IT? YOU CAN'T AVOID IT BY TRYING TO RE-DIVERT THE ISSUE TO HOW PYSCHOLOGICAL LANGUAGE WORKS. THAT CONCERN IS ONLY A STEP, AN IMPORTANT ONE BUT ONE ONLY, IN ANY EFFORT TO FIGURE OUT HOW BRAINS DO WHAT THEY DO.


      Hutto -

      Conclusion

      What would Wittgenstein make of Dennett's 'demystifying investigation"? I think he would regard the latter's counter-intuitive 'theory' as a bad response to a series of problems which rest on a house of cards. In offering us such a 'theory' Dennett would be falling into the trap of trying to give 'new information' or a 'new discovery' to solve a philosophical problem41 when instead what is needed is an investigation into the way psychological language
      operates.42 Ironically, by advancing his 'metaphysically minimalist' account of consciousness which introduces us to such things as 'notional worlds' Dennett has simply generated his own, new sort of 'mythology'. Rather than settling the issue his 'new set of metaphors' simply creates different puzzles to confuse the metaphysician.


      THERE IS A FUNDAMENTAL MISUNDERSTANDING ON HUTTO'S PART HERE, I THINK. DENNETT'S WORK IS AIMED AT CONCEPTUALLY CLARIFYING WHAT WE MEAN BY CONSCIOUSNESS IN ORDER TO DISCERN WHAT IT IS THAT WE CALL "CONSCIOUSNESS". IT'S A STEP IN SUPPORT OF A LEGITIMATE SCIENTIFIC PROJECT. CONFUSING IT WITH METAPHYSICS IS THE MISTAKE HERE. SURE THERE ARE METAPHYSICAL ISSUES BUT IT IS NOT THESE THAT ARE AT STAKE BUT ONLY THE WAYS WE THINK AND TALK ABOUT MINDS. TO ARGUE FOR A CONCEPTUALIZATION OF MIND THAT ENABLES IT TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS A FUNCTION OF ENTIRELY PHYSICAL BRAINS IS NOT TO ARGUE FOR OR AGAINST THE ONTOLOGICAL PRIMACY OF PHYSICAL PHENOMENA. INDEED, DENNETT'S POINT (AT LEAST IN CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED) IS TO OFFER A RE-CONCEPTUALIZATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT ASSUMES THAT PRIMACY, NOT TO ARGUE FOR IT!

      Hutto -

      We will not escape our philosophical problems by supplanting [psychological] talk (or surpassing it) by advancing a superior theory. This reveals the crucial difference in the character of their 'demystifying' investigations. To successfully demystify consciousness Dennett thinks we need to develop a principled, and revisionist, theory of consciousness - but, if Wittgenstein is right what we require is a rearrangement of facts we have already always known.
      We need to get a clear view of the nature of our psychological language.

      HERE IS WHERE HUTTO GOES WRONG, I THINK. HE SEEMS TO BELIEVE THAT DENNETT'S CONCERN IS, OR SHOULD BE, THE SAME AS WITTGENSTEIN'S -- WHICH WAS TO EXPLORE AND UNDERSTAND PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS AS THEY PRESENTED THEMSELVES TO PHILOSOPHERS OF HIS DAY (AND EVEN, AS WE HAVE OFTEN SEEN, TODAY). BUT, IN FACT, THAT IS QUITE WRONG. DENNETT ISN'T INTERESTED IN ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM OF PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS AND ISN'T ENGAGED IN THAT KIND OF ENTERPRISE AT ALL. HE IS CONCERNED
      WITH ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM OF UNDERSTANDING CONSCIOUSNESS IN A WAY THAT'S CONSISTENT WITH A SCIENTIFICALLY ARTICULATED EXPRESSION OF THE PRIMACY OF PHYSICAL PHENOMENA IN THE UNIVERSE. THAT THE QUESTION IS ONE OF THOSE LONGSTANDING PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS IS ALMOST BESIDE THE POINT. BUT TO THE EXTENT THAT DENNETT BELIEVES IT ISN'T, HE HAS TAKEN A WITTGENSTEINIAN POSITION VIS A VIS HOW WE USE WORDS ABOUT MINDS, CONSCIOUSNESS AND SO FORTH.

      SWM
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