Monday, January 30, 2012

Neuroscience of Happiness guy defends computational theory of mind

from Salon
"One perhaps controversial claim your book makes early on is that the brain can literally, rather than metaphorically, be thought of as a computer – and following from this, that an identical, non-biological computational device could be created (as in artificial intelligence). Is this idea widely accepted in the field of philosophy of mind today? In philosophy of mind I would say, maybe 50/50. It used to be very popular when Hilary Putnam formalized the solution of functionalism with regard to minds: the idea that what the system does is what matters, not what it is made of. But then he repudiated his stance and it gets a bit complicated. I think as far as the -isms go in philosophy, there’s a blend between an old-fashioned school (mid-1950s), which says the mind is literally what this brain does, it’s this brain’s mind. But then you have to admit there are very simple philosophical arguments that when certain changes are made to the composition of the system, its function would not matter. For instance, right now you and I are interconnected cognitive mental states. So if I tell you, Look at your hand and count your fingers, while I’m looking at mine, we both see five fingers. We have the number five in our minds; what does it reside in? It’s definitely not your neurons because your neurons are yours and my neurons are mine. So it cannot be those neurons specifically; it’s what those neurons do. So if you accept that, the question then becomes, is it a slippery slope? Where does it stop, what can you do with or to a system without disrupting the mind that exists in it? And that’s a question that would take much longer than a couple of minutes to get into."

No comments:

Post a Comment