Do You Know the Way to San Jose ?

I’ve just started reading John Searle’s latest, “Mind – A Brief Introduction”.
Interestingly, David Chalmers (see two posts earlier) is credited as a reviewer and also appears in the bibliography.

So far I’ve just done the 7 pages of introduction, and already getting that impatient “Oh fer chris’sakes get on with it” feeling – but hang on a minute …

When he says “How can something subjective like pain exist in a world of physical particles … How can your intention, not part of the phsyical world, cause your physical arm to move … ?” I can’t help jumping in with the observation that the world hasn’t existed as fundamentally comprising physical particles in any physicists mind for a century or more, let’s move on. Thought and particles are surely equally manifestations of the same world of physics – emergent from disturbances in the chaotic void or whatever. Why contemplate anything more mystical ? Although he hints at the significance of recent neurobiological research into consciousness, he doesn’t give any clue as to the significance of “new” physics later in the book – but here’s hoping.

When he talks of subjectivity and qualitativeness he is getting closer. In fact he goes on to make his main distinction between apects of the world that are observer-dependent and observer-independent. I’ve been heard to utter the mantra “objectivity is over-rated” on one or two occasions. A second distinction he sets up is between intrinsic (original) intentionality [eg of a map maker] and derived intentionality [eg in the information symbolicaly represented on a map]. Crucially he concludes his introduction with the point that these two binary classifications are systematically related – derived intentionality is always observer-dependent. Hooray, perhaps we will navigate our way to San Jose after all.

(Aside – As part of neutral information modelling activities, I’ve long been an advocate of the essential [intrinsic] vs functional [intentional] human artefact axis of taxonomy or “deemed” ontology. Intent is THE key dimension of any knowledge model in the real human world, IMHO natch.)

(HOLD – read a negative review of Galdwell’s Blink in the NYT, courtesy of the UK’s Daily Telegraph – too much sloppy intuition – link & comments to follow.)

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