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Denting Dennett

Joe wrote:

"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations §109


Khuno reels-off howlers - such as that CDs experience empathy and thermostats "have representational states". He routinely confounds, mauls and murders Dennett and Chalmers - but from the cultists no condemnations are audible.

Khuno wrote:
JoshingThySelf wrote:
Thermostats don't have minds.

Right. I'm glad we agree about this. I'm glad, more so, that you disagree with Dennett who attributes extremely low levels of consciousness to thermostats. I'm glad we both find this absurd.

First, Khuno brands Dennett as "absurd", falsely asserting that Dennett has maintained that thermostats possess "low levels of consciousness". Dennett ascribes neither minds nor consciousness to thermostats. He's an AI guy. Dennett attributes consciousness to things capable of implementing a "Joycean machine" - where the machine produces "multiple drafts" of its own hypotheses about itself and the world inside of itself. Consciousness emerges - only when those who can have it turn it towards themselves. Their own mechanisms and processes must contain the required level of complexity to recognize and understand that other minds have the same level of complexity. To Dennett, consciousness is a process, used to communicate "with ourselves about ourselves". Thermostats cannot be Dennett's "Joycean machines". Thermostats would - first - have to pass the Turing test for them to be coronated with the crown of consciousness, i.e. a thermostat's verbal behavior would have to be indistinguishable from that of a human being.

Khuno wrote:
I clearly don't define consciousness as psychological consciousness. Thermostats are psychologically conscious...primitive low level intentionality, but they have representational states.

Second - presto chango - after Dennett was wrongly denounced and flogged as an absurdist for assigning consciousness to thermostats, Khuno maintains that thermostats are "psychologically conscious" - because these devices possess "low level intentionality" and "representational states". However for a thing to "have representational states", it must have a conscious mind for it to represent concepts, objects, states, percepts, truth-values, etc. in its conscious mind, and the term "psychological consciousness" (well known to psychologists) has been equivocated away by Khuno into the utter lack of consciousness - a bold, stunning and wondrous self-contradiction. Thermostats have no "representational states" - as they lack minds with which to represent these states, and (see below) thermostats are - in no way, shape or form - "psychologically conscious".

psychological consciousness
"an advanced form of self-consciousness, which consists of: 1. spatialization - having an internal mental "space" in which hypothetical events can "happen". 2. analog I - being able to see "in" one's spatialized mind what one would "see" if one were in a certain situation. 3. analog Me - the "I" is the subject performing actions, through whose eyes we "see". The "Me" is an object "seen" in its entirety. 4. excerption - the taking of a small aspect of something to stand for that whole thing. 5. conciliation - something similar to assimilation of knowledge to fit a schema but done "in" a conscious mind. 6. narratization - the constant unnoticed activity of thinking of one's life in terms of stories, in which one is the star character."

One conspicuous seam that Khuno cannot sew-up is that representational states require consciousness. To Dennett, a manufactured object (a thermostat) with its low-levels of intentionality does not have what it takes to have any sort of consciousness or "representational states". On the other hand - to Chalmers, a pan-psychic, non-interactionary dualist - since rocks are conscious, imputing consciousness to more complicated thermostats is redundant. Khuno repeatedly jumbles-up the mutually-exclusive ideas of two philosophers, conflating Dennett with Chalmers and Chalmers with Dennett. For Dennett, it's positively obscene to attribute consciousness to thermostats. For Chalmers, rocks, thermostats, barbed-wire, whoopie-cushions, piles of manure, etc. possess consciousness.

Khuno wrote:
Magnitude of complexity and number of causal operations is all that distinguishes a human mind from a thermostat for dennett.

Third, Dennett, a one-time absurdist for allegedly imputing "low levels of consciousness" to thermostats (even though Dennett holds the polar-opposite view) has been elevated to the status of the infallible. To Dennett - again, a technological device must pass the Turning test for it to be said to possess any mind or consciousness, i.e. a piece of technology (say a highly advanced robot) would have to be indistinguishable in its verbal competence/language mastery from a human speaker.

Is Dennett an absurdist, or is he infallible on this trivial matter of consciousness? (From sentence to sentence, Khuno unloads confusion, self-contradiction and equivocation - over and over again.) Here's what Dennett actually wrote about intentionality and thermostats:

"Intentional systems have beliefs, or as-good-as beliefs. I use the word beliefs for the intentional states of all of them, including the notorious thermostat. But we have opinions as well as beliefs." -- Dennett