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John Searle on the Human Mind and the Nature of Intelligence
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2008-01-07 10:22:08
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Modern rationalists whose paradigm of reality is Descartes’ philosophy and its idea that we are nothing but so much matter extended into space and complicated biological machines are fond of pointing out that our brains are similar to a computer program and that therefore computers are conscious or will soon be. In some way artificial intelligence is superior to human intelligence: quicker, more precise, clearer and so the sooner we become “humbots,” the better. After all, doesn’t a computer beat most of us at chess most of the times? What is never mentioned, or is considered superseded in this kind of reductionism, are the ideas of mind and soul, very well know to the ancients as integral characteristics of human beings.

But we need not go all the way back to Plato, or closer to us, Vico, to find major opponents of this dehumanizing view of the nature of man. There is a contemporary philosopher of language still alive who has dedicated his life to the study of the mind and has become a pioneer in the field of cognitive science. His name is John Searle.

Searle counters what he dubs “strong AI” (Artificial Intelligence) with a famous thought experiment, which he calls the Chinese Room argument. This is how it goes: imagine you find yourself in a room containing an enormous rule book, which allows you to look up Chinese sentences and tells you how to reply to them in Chinese. Through a hole in the wall you are handed a piece of paper with a question written on it in Chinese. Using the rule book, you look up the answer to this question which you write on another piece of paper, in Chinese, and pass through another hole. To the people outside the room you appear to have thorough understanding of the Chinese language, whereas in fact you could perform the required task without understanding a word of it.

Searle argues that the Chinese room is an analogy for so-called artificial intelligence. The rule book is the equivalent of a computer program, which manipulates symbols according to a set of rules, and produces answers. By doing so it can give the appearance of being intelligent. But it is nothing of the sort. A computer model of the mind is not actually conscious, just as a computer model of the digestive system cannot actually eat pizza. A computer model of falling in love or reading a novel or getting drunk does not actually experience these things, but simply produces a simulation of these processes. The basic ingredient that distinguishes human minds from computers, according to Searle, is intentionality. Computers are defined syntactically, in terms of formal symbol manipulation, and that, he argues, is insufficient to imply consciousness.

So if consciousness is not something that can be experienced by a computer, what is it exactly and how does it emerge? In his theories about the mind and consciousness, Searle rejects Cartesian dualism—that the mind is something non-physical and separate from the body. He also rejects the reductionism of thinkers such as Daniel Dennet, who believe that consciousness can be reduced to a series of physical processes in the brain similar to a software program.

Instead Searle adopts a position which he call biological naturalism. As per this view, consciousness is an emergent phenomenon of the brain. To explain what he means by this, he cites as an analogy the liquidity, or wetness, of water as being an emergent phenomenon brought about by the behavior of the molecules that it is composed of. You cannot pinpoint a particular molecule and say “this one is wet”—the wetness is a feature of the whole system of molecules. In the same way, one cannot point to a neuron and say “this one is conscious.” Consciousness emerges as a result of the whole system. Events at the micro-level—perhaps at the level of individual neurons—causes a phenonmenon, which we call consciousness, at the macro-level.

Some have seen biological naturalism as a form of dualism since micro-level properties can be objectively studied by a brain surgeon. But the brain surgeon cannot in the same way access macro-level properties such as pain, desire, joy. Searle rejects this suggestion. He stresses that consciousness is a type of physical property; it is not something separate like a kind of juice that is squirted out by the neurons, it is the state that the system is in, part of that system and inseparable from it. How it works—how micro-level behavior creates consciousness at the macro level—is a question for the neuroscientists. But as a problem for philosophers, Searle regards it as solved.

His philosophy solves it by intentionality which is the attachment of meaning to an object, such as a belief about it, possession of it or contempt towards it. In his Collective Intentions and Actions, Searle seeks to show how intentionality can operate on the collective level. He contends that collective intentional behavior exists and is not the same as the sum of individual intentional behavior. Vico called it “common sense” while Jung calls it “the collective unconscious,” but Seale insists that there is no such thing as group mind or group consciousness; society consists of individuals. In this there are clear parallels with his theories of mind and his rejection of dualism and reductionism as explanations of consciousness.

In his The Construction of Social Reality (1996), Searle applies his theory of intentionality to society, looking at the way certain aspects of our world are created as a result of the combined intentionality of those who make use of them. We assign functions to physical objects—turning matter into chairs, money, swimming pools and countries, for example—by our common intention to treat objects in that way, and by our willingness to conform to rules for the treatment of those objects.

Other essential readings for an in depth study of Searle’s theories are Speech Acts: an Essay in the Philosophy of Language (1969), Minds, Brains and Programs (1980), Intentionality: an Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (1983).

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Jack2008-01-08 00:37:13
Man will always be superior than anything which he creates. Even if a thing that is created is more capable than the one that created it, it can never be superior. It can not create itself. Only the human mind...more clever than anything he will create.

How marvelous is man...limited only by himself.

Dimitrios2008-01-08 18:51:51
This is very interesting stuff.
I didn't quite understand why Searle's view is not compatible with the computer model. A program brings a computer to a specific "total state" that is the sum of a vast amount of "micro-states"(e.g. binary states). Can you give some more details?

Sand2008-01-08 19:23:21
The problems raised by Searle have been examined by other thinkers on the problems with consciousness. The site at http://www.imprint.co.uk/Moody_zombies.html goes into some detail and is recognized as "The zombie problem" Modern brain studies aided by brain scan systems are beginning to approach the problems of consciousness but they have only started. One of the many studies is at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145022.htm

The idea that inferior activists cannot create something superior to themselves is easily denied by the brain itself which is composed of a mass of neurons which individually are obviously inferior to the total brain but all group activity in nature such as organized bees, ants, termites, etc are obviously individually inferior to the colonies. Within human culture there is no doubt that, despite extraordinary individuals, teams of scientists and managers and workers are obviously superior to an individual alone in moving an original conception into a produced and distributed concept even though each of the individuals alone is inferior to the total organized group. By that it is not inconceivable that a thinking computer might well acquire a consciousness with capabilities beyond that of a normal human.

Sand2008-01-08 19:31:40
An analysis in depth of the problem of machine consciousness can be found at http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0474.html

Lars2008-01-08 21:43:23
Searle's understanding of the mind (and consciousness) is appealing at first glance but unfortunately his theory faces many difficulties. First, he insists that himself in the chinese room will not understand chinese, but why not? If he is the for a long enough time maybe he will start to understand; he does not say what it is for a system (e.g., a human) to understand; what would we require of a system to reconize it as to "understanding" something? (see,


for further discussion) Secondly, his biological naturalism looks like emergentism (which had its peak with C.D. Broad in the 1920's if I'm not mistaken); thirdly, how does Searle's theory respons to the so-called "exclusion problem"? Can he show us how mental properties are causally efficious and not merely "epiphenomenal". I, also, have a strong intuition against reduction of the mental, but it looks like that is just what Searle does (with his analogy with H2O and water)(and sometimes he argues for what sounds like functionalism). Finally, he is so to say alone in hold that the relation between mind and body (or mental and physical properties) is a causal relation. See


Emanuel Paparella2008-01-08 21:44:11
So much for Searle and forty years of scholarship in the field of cognitive science. Searle to the bonfife you go, you are not modern and reductionist enough.

To Dimitrios: Searle does not reject the computer nor does it deny it its rationalistic powers; what he does say however is that it is a fallacy to impute consciousness (or intentionality) to a computer and to reduce man to nothing else than a complicated machine manipulated by the mind, if mind is even conceived any longer. Admittedly mine is a schematization of his thinking on the subject and that is why I included three of his essential writings at the end of the essay, for all those who may be intrigued by his views of what it means to be human and do not wish to reduce the issue to some kind of caricature.

Sand2008-01-08 21:51:30
I have no conception as to how the bonfife sounds (evidently a French instrument - perhaps a miniature French horn)but it seems the tune it plays is, to say the least, rather uninspiring.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-09 13:00:33
A reply to Jack, Dimitrios and Lars:

On p. 93 of his The Rediscovery of the Mind John Searle points out that “Conscious mental states and processes have a special feature not possessed by other natural phenomena, namely, subjectivity. It is this feature of consciousness that makes its study so recalcitrant to the conventional methods of biological and psychological research, and most puzzling to philosophical analysis.”
That means that John Searle is building on the anti-materialistic anti-Cartesian philosophies of the mind of Giambattista Vico and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Within our current modernity Merleau-Ponty breaks away from the dualism of empiricism and rationalism, which he sees as the fatal weakness of those systems, and sees the body existing in a third state, between subject and object (see his Phenomenology of Perception). Perception and consciousness are primary in this kind of epistemology which in effect means that truth can be determined by other means than that of reason alone as rationalists surmise, and perception is a subject-object dialogue, experienced through the “lived body.” In other words perception is not something that exists purely in our minds, but is experienced in through our bodies. Descartes’ reductionism: that our body is simply a machine that is manipulated by the mind is thus demonstrated as false and rejected. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-09 13:01:29
The body must be understood as something more than a set of separate parts; it must be understood as a whole, as it is lived. Merleau-Ponty gives as an example a phantom limb: amputees who often continue to feel a missing limb, meaning that in effect the body is something lived through in relation to possibilities in the world or to say it in other words, nothing is experienced independently of one’s experience as an embodied being in the world. It allows us to perceive things as hot or cold, big or small, near or far. That experience is based on our body’s location in space; similarly our experience of time is based on our body’s inability to be anywhere but the present. Each experience arrives in context with everything that surrounds it in space and everything that preceded it in time. Thus he resolves Meno’s paradox: how do we know that we have found what we are looking for if we do not yet know what it is? Because the embodied experience gives it meaning. Perception and consciousness are primary. That also means that every scientific characterization is an abstract and derivative sign language, as is geography to the countryside.

us2008-01-10 03:43:44
I've philosophized about consciousness a bit and at the very least this seems a bit grander then what this article describes.

I'm not sure how you qualify talk about something like this but regardless I guess I believe consciousness is singular, not existing of multiple minds or souls, experiencing the universe vastly in all ways possible. This consciousness is brought forth or tied directly to the complex interactions and structures of matter or energy. While we may think this is limited to humans as all life is aware of it's environment in unimaginable unique and complex ways.

Yet what if consciousness extends beyond life, as with the question of a computer having consciousness, is it also possible that larger structures in the universe are conscious? While a neuron in our brain may have an awareness threw chemical and electrical signals of other neurons around it and structures with in it, it has no knowledge of what were experiencing. Could the boundless number of interactions of matter and energy be applied to multiple multiple scales say a galaxy or the entire universe entire universe? While they certainly wouldn't be conscious as we are is it possible to determine or tell if a consciousness or awareness is present on those levels?

I at least find this an inspiring thought.

Sand2008-01-10 06:28:34
One of the problems of discussions like this is the unconscious assumption of participants that the definitions of the terminology used is common to everybody. It is obvious that this is not so. For one example, it is not so that to be aware is the same as to be conscious. When a rock is thrown in a gravity field its path conforms to the restraints of the field so that, on Earth its path attempts to be orbital. This indicates that the rock is "aware" of the gravity field but it seems unlikely the rock is conscious.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 11:12:14
A response to us:

Indeed, you are quite right: it is definitely grander than what the article describes, much grander. As I pointed out the article is a schematic presentation of the issue under the light of Searle’s theories on subjectivity vis a vis artificial intelligence; or, as he himself points out, a rediscovery of Mind. No doubt schematic presentations are always inadequate and risk superficiality, however they are a way of starting a fruitful dialogue with others who may disagree on the issue but are willing to keep an open mind and thus encourage philosophizing on it. Also, they serve to motivate the sincerely inquisitive to read first hand the works of the particular thinker presented. If that turns out to be the case, then the article will have fulfilled its intention. That intention is not contained in the medium, the computer which transmitted the article, but in the minds of the author of the article and those dialoguing and searching for the truth of the matter with the author, something that transcends hidden ideological sophistic propagandistic agendas which do nothing more than demagogue the issue and are ultimately sterile.(continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 11:13:40
The perplexities you list as your particular personal reflections on the matter are undoubtedly valid and intriguing, even more so since they lead to inspiration. Indeed, philosophy begins in wonder and proceeds in perplexity and doubt guided by reason and often ends in inspiration and insight. The essential ingredient in the whole process is a sincere will to truth. Nowadays, unfortunately, the will to power is often confused with the will to truth.

Whitehead said somewhere that the whole of Western philosophy is a footnote to Plato and he might have had a point. One hears much nowadays about Gaya or Mother Earth with a cosmic consciousness, a sort of scientific goddess of old. It seems to me that many have stumbled upon the ancient problematic of mind or intelligence governing the universe (what Plato called “nous”), and some may indeed have reinvented the wheel; which is to say, unbeknown to them they have written another footnote to Plato. (continued below)

Sand2008-01-10 11:19:05
Gaya is, of course, the god of homosexuality not to be confused with Gaia.
It is very clear that this discussion is moving very well through perplexity as proposed.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 11:24:32

In the “Philebus” Plato writes that “all the wise agree that ‘nous” is the kind of heaven and earth and that the sum of things, the universe, is ruled by reason and wondrous regular intelligence (28 c,d). In the “Timaeus” he identifies this world governing power as the demiurge, the divine crafter and world-maker. Through rational reflection the demiurge discovers that it is impossible for “nous” to come to be something without soul and thus makes the world whole, itself as ensouled, mindful living thing, that is, an animate being with soul in its body and “nous” (mind) in its soul. In effect this is Plato’s answer to the question about how rational order can transmitted from the intelligible to the sensible realm. “Nous” does not impose order on the material world by an external dictate, rather it creates the world-soul as an instrument of rational governance. When the demiurge has created the world soul, its rational soul is interwoven with the world body and thus communicates its rational order to the bodies which it animates. Plato defines soul as “self-moved”; thus every body moved from without is soul-less, and every body moved from within is ensouled (see Phaedrus 245 e). He further speculates that the demiurge blends together portions of the eternal immutable realm together with the transient mutable realm. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 11:30:14
The above is admittedly a schematization. Many today no longer grasp notions such as soul, mind, salvation, redemption, virtue, transcendental, purpose. They will read this schematization and charge it with superficiality or confusion. It simply contradicts their bottom line beliefs but the hypocrisy lies in their insistence that their particular rationalistic brand of reality is objective and that of their interlocutors is subjective and false. After all, what could Plato possibly know about neurons and gravitation field. However Plato too, like ourselves wondered at the orderliness of the universe and how it interacted with man’s consciousness. The science that cames after him is the footnote of which Whitehead was talking about. It is the static geographical map of the countryside. The map is dead matter, the universe is alive and on a fantastic journey. Man’s journey may reflect it, as Star Treck certainly implies. But the journey is not only external. There is also an internal journey. Enter Dante.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 12:19:43
To the footnoter above: the one who has appointeded himself the corrector of typos and politically incorrect positions in this magazine:

“Koi Mil Gaya” is India’s first Science Fiction Film which came out in 2004. Nietzsche wrote a book titled The Gay Science. Neither has anything to do with homosexuality although gods are mentioned in both. But “of course” a rationalist has the consummate capacity to take any word, especially one that is a typographical error (which he also makes) and egregiously transform it to serve its own purposes, even for the creation of new gods. That actually may be the silver lining here: the implication that the gods are back.

Sand2008-01-10 12:44:54
Delighted that my newly created god Gaya has found easy acceptance. It is obvious that the triumvirate god Moe, Curly and Larry have moved securely into this discussion and taken over.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 14:20:33
Watch your typos: if it is a triumvirate then the word should be spelled "gods." Delighted to have been of help in the guarding of English grammar. Of course you are allowed to create your own gods in your head who come to visit from time to time, but not your own English grammar, unless you have declared yourself a god. In that case the ambulance should be called.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 14:23:59
P.S. There is a difference between a discussion in a public forum and a solipsistic monologue parading as the search for the truth.

Sand2008-01-10 14:45:33
I have long ago dismissed the possibility that truth had anything to do with your discussions, Paparella. You are blatantly a literary ghoul ingesting the the corpses of dead and irrelevant musings since you have none of your own.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 15:15:26
The logical inference is that you are not searching for the truth or you would have a long time ago desisted from reading my comments and contributions with no possibility of truth. There is another hidden agenda at work. Thank you for the information. What remains to be done now is to let us know what the hidden agenda is. Surely the shadow you keep projecting knows.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 15:17:27
P.S. By the way, watch the syntax: only one "the" suffices. Delighted to be of help.

Sand2008-01-10 15:43:56
Aah, the hidden agenda ploy. Your paranoia hard at work again.
A true seeker after truth always displays many doubts about not only others who engage him in discussion but about his own ideas as he is well aware that the whole truth is never totally available and must be continuously puzzled out. There is an inherent integrity in this capability to hold ideas tentatively which you have never displayed in the slightest way. Any opposition at all invokes in you a total dismissal that anything you may say can be questioned in the slightest, even to your doubts of the existence a word openly displayed in several accepted dictionaries. This attitude is far more in concert with a manic psychosis than with a seeker after truth who welcomes questions that permits exploration of the possible faults in his ideas. What is most amusing about you is that the strength of an idea is not tested by current experience of the idea itself against the latest findings but that it has been proposed by some hoary ancient philosopher (especially if he is a theologian) ignorant of the current understanding of the nature of the universe and how it functions.
You are, simply, a salesman of philosophical coprolite and will brook no sensible assessment of your product.

Sand2008-01-10 16:04:59
The inference that I peruse your offerings for truth is unfortunately totally misplaced. When I see one of your published articles it arouses a definite odor of corrupt decay and I do my best to apply enough common sense to cauterize it as any decent person would do.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 16:23:50
Ahh, we are back to the poetics of defecation redolent of the odors of corrupt decay...We have heard that before, ad nauseam, to stick to your poetics. Strange though that you have not revealed yet why this strange psychological compulsion to be the Grand Inquisitor in charge of the defense of politically correct and current assumptions, the biggest and most misguided one being that a theory is superior to another just because it arrived on the scene later. I am pretty confident that no editor has appointed to such a self-appointed position but you consider it your duty to carry it out. Love of truth? Perhaps but that too was the answer give to Socrates by the Sophists. He never accepted it as authentic. Neither do I. Too much circumstantial evidence to the contrary, I am afraid.

Sand2008-01-10 16:32:21
It seems anybody who confronts you must be a Grand something or other which of course implies you yourself have some stature. Since you are a small minded man fumbling with ideas well beyond your capability be reassured I hardly need be anything more than someone with ordinary integrity and decency to find it worthwhile to clean up after you. No one needs appoint me anymore than someone had to appoint you to make your messes.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 16:47:23
Delighted to hear that you find it "worthwhile" to be a pooper scooper and that you do so voluntarily and free of charge with no appointment.Hey, nothing to write home about but it's an occupation of sort and it is freely done. Of course the other way applies too. Others in a public forum remain free to observe and laugh at, and clean up your abundant messes. Or are yours perfumed? For example, I still think that capacity is more elegant than capability that, true to form, you keep stubbornly using. Pretty sterile stuff, but hilarious nonetheless.

Sand2008-01-10 17:08:02
Why sneer at responsible citizenry?

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 17:21:16
No doubt the voices have informed you that you are part of the responsible virtuous citizenry, like the Jacobins of the French Revolution...Show them the lantern man "doing light unto himself" in the dark cave of Dante's Hell, next time they visit and they may desist; but there are no guarantees.

Sand2008-01-10 18:48:27
And your voices no doubt have informed you that all your arguments are totally without error and you are, like that fine President Bush, the ultimate decider and all objectors should be subject to waterboarding or some other appropriate torture approved in the dungeons of Hell by your Christian god.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 19:39:08
Indeed there are no guarantees. As I have suspected all along, there is indeed an agenda behind all that pompous show of virtuous citizenry, and sooner or later it reveals its true colors; and a Punch and Judy show it is not. The lantern man is a most appropriate image telling with one picture what a thousand words cannot.

Sand2008-01-10 20:14:00
There is nothing more comfortable than diving into unintelligibility to hide from the world.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 22:54:37
Are you quoting or speaking from direct experience?

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-10 23:07:23
To Jack, Dimitrios, Lars, and us: sorry if our dialogue was sucked in the unconvivial Punch and Judy show... Should you still be following this thread and aside from the hilarity of it all, be interested in further explorations of the problematic of consciousness vis a vis the universe as seen under the light of the greatest of Italian humanists (G. Vico)you may wish to take a look at this article of mine whose link I place below:



Sand2008-01-11 07:13:15
There is nothing humorous about somebody attempting to present tired confused unhelpful obsolete speculations about consciousness as valid thinking. It is an area that requires cognizance of the latest efforts to penetrate the problems of this very difficult area and some small progress is being made with neurological brain scan techniques but there is much distance yet to be traveled. It has been the concern of much speculation over centuries but speculation unsupported by reference to the structures of the brain responsible for mental phenomena remain fantasies with small utility for real progress in the area. Theologians have always been partial to primitive concepts of souls or spirits without responsibility to the unrelenting physics of the material world but at each progress in understanding of material phenomena the theologies have shown to be useless speculation more manufactured to support theological power structures than to reveal anything fundamental in the nature of consciousness.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-11 08:59:44
Spoken as the High Priest of positivistic atheistic scientific materialism presenting the politically correct othodoxy parading as "objective" inexcapable observation of reality out there. When one examines the core beliefs of those high priest one soon discovers that there is nothing objective about them; that the agenda is quite subjective and is that of the liquidation of the Mind and the Soul and everything spiritual for the privileging of a flat, crude, sterile culture which considers the True, the Beautiful and the Good as chimera superseded by "the bottom life," or the needs of the body exclusively. After all nobody has seen them walking about. The deviousness of that kind of barbarism of the intellect consists in not openly declaring such an agenda and hiding behind that kind of spurious "objectivity." But the emperor reamins naked. Indeed, there is nothing humorous about that kind of deception which willy nilly will end up liquidating civilization too.

For a thorough analysis and examination of this cultural disaster see Roger Primrose "The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics" (Oxford Univiversity Press, 1989), and William Barrett's "Death of the Soul: from Descartes to the Computer."

Sand2008-01-11 09:12:29
To proclaim my system of values subjective and yours free of subjectivity is an amusing way that you deceive yourself but you can't kid anybody else.
It is fascinating that you continuously endow me with being a High Priest or a High Executioner to bulk up your own overblown ego as the virtuous underdog dispensing absolute beauty and truth. It clearly indicates a sore sense of your own inferiority which you are understandably reluctant to acknowledge.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-11 09:26:58
I seeeeee, first one declares one's superiority than one looks for the inferior types that proves one's superiority. It was with that kind of skewed logic that the extermination of six million Jews, not to talk of the burning of "unacceptable" books, was rationalized and carried out. To assume that technocracy and materialistic scientism will ensure that it never happens again is to be a simpleton indeed.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-11 12:27:49
PS "...is an amusing way that you deceive yourself" is awful syntax, better rendered as "is and amusing way by which you deceive yourself," or if you prefer: "of deceiving yourself." Glad to be of help in the pooper scooping of messes of English grammar, and logic and sophistry and bashing and slanders before the door of the magazine...

Sand2008-01-11 17:51:08
Stumbled, as usual.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-11 23:22:58
As usual the Punch and Judy show must go on before the door but do those charaters dare knock at the door and enter. When they do and the door opens, they may well find out that, as Rumi aptly puts it: they have been knocking from the inside.

Sand2008-01-12 07:26:25
Stumbled again.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-12 10:03:45
You forgot "as usual." When people keep repeating obsessively the same mantra as a pat enigmatic answer, either the psychiatrist or an ambulance is called.

Might you be referring to stumble.com which signaled the article above and increased the visiting to Ovi by 500% a few days ago? In that case you should not be speechless and livid and just keep repeating "stumbled." You should be congratulating Ovi and its team, given that you are a contributor too. Or are you merely a pooper scooper and guardina of the door?

Sand2008-01-12 17:47:24
No, Paparella, merely a friendly notification you are inept and should watch yourself. After all, a layman like myself is expected to let an error or two slip through but a Ph.D. with a lifetime of academic experience should demonstrate more rigid discipline. Goes with the territory.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-12 21:30:13
Issue adroitely avoided. Dishonesty, slander and innuendos seems to go with your territory. You might be able to obtain a Ph.D. in it, honoris causa. I'll write a glowing referece.

Sand2008-01-13 05:19:42
I really would not know what to do with a referece. Naturally, anything from you would be treated with extreme caution, especially if it emitted a ticking noise.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-13 07:01:38
Ah, the unibomber. One of the voices that has been visiting lately? Not to worry, he only sends references to professors and scholars and pretty much ignores charlatans.

Sand2008-01-13 10:43:57
It's comforting to know you feel safe from explosives. But, not to worry. You seem as behind in current events as you are in all other matters. The man has been behind bars for years.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-13 13:38:00
So has Charles Manson and the voices in his head keep telling him that he was born innocent and society corrupted him, and truth is relative and therefore he doesn't understand what he is doing behind bars. If he has a computer there, I suppose he consoles himself with flaming, casting gratuitous aspersions, vituperations and mean-spirited and negative attacks on others which allows him not to have to contemplate his own contribution to society's corruption. So it goes. As Descartes said: I think therefore I am. The question is what kind of thinking and what kind of reason has made you what you are?

Sand2008-01-13 13:47:43
Interesting the way you tie Manson with Descartes. Aside with the fact the coupling has nothing to do with our discussion, I wonder why you attempt to smear Descartes as someone involved with mass murder.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-13 16:41:39
Is that what the voices told you to do? To make a connection between Manson and Descartes? The perniciousness of Descartes is of another kind. It has to do with the mind and how it thinks. But that seems to escape escape the voices in your head. You ought to consider dialoguing (authentically though) with those who have a different opinion from Descartes paradigm, and ignore the voices.

Sand2008-01-13 16:59:17
You brought up Descartes and Manson, not me. Obviously you don't even know what you're talking about.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-13 18:36:55
To reiterate what I already said under today's cover story to those who may be wandering about the Punch and Judy show going on on a separate track in this magazine here is an apt link. I predict it will be consigned to the virtual bonfire simply because I recommended it. In any case here is the link:

Jeremy Sherman,one of my colleagues at Global Spiral (of the Metanexus Institutue), who like me writes a weekly column for said widely read publication, has posted recently an intriguing and interesting column on this very subject of opinions that all too easily become bones of contentions and even negative and debasing vituperations in a debate, thus detracting from its conviviality and credability. Any reader interested in reading it should open the following link:


Sand2008-01-13 19:02:25
Surely there are better places to wander.

Sand2008-01-13 19:29:20
Since you keep throwing literature on the fire, Paparella I suggest we all bring hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks to put all that CO2 to good use.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-13 23:15:09
Wonder and/or wander no more. Jeremy Sherman and
Gobal Spiral to the bonfire. Indeed, the new coming barbarism will make the old one look like a picnic. Don't forget the matches and bring the mustard too.

Sand2008-01-14 07:50:24
Pyromaniacs can be spectacular but not useful. It is unfortunate that Descartes' aphorism is absolutely not functional in reverse in you. You seemingly are but do not think.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 08:38:45
I think therefore I am. It sounds so objective but he too like all of us had a value system, or core beliefs by which willy nilly we live. The question is not do we have values but do we have ethics and common sense and common decency? There is a difference between values and ethics. The former former can be negative; the latter are always positive as the Greeks taughts us 24 centuries ago. Monsters like Hitler and Stalin had values for sure, but alas they were the wrong narcisistic ones oblivious of the common good and the true nature of man, ever ready to defame and slander and bash anybody or anything that did not further their ideological agenda. Rings any bell? If not, ask the voices about their values when they come to visit.

Sand2008-01-14 15:32:03
Ethics and morality are a wonderful playground for speculation as to what may and what may not be be universal good and evil. An exploratory article indicating how these can vary can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=science&oref=slogin

Sand2008-01-14 15:36:10
"I think, therefor I am" Is one of the most subjective comments ever made. To claim otherwise indicates a severe lack of understanding of basic English.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 16:33:02
I seeeeeeeeeeeee! That is why Dante wrote the Divine Comedy. So that people could get their jollies in imagining immorality duly punished. How medieval! And yet, and yet, the Divine Comedy and The New Science continue to be taught at Harvard and Yale Universities. They may have gothic architecture but are surely not mere intellectual vestiges of the Dark Ages. Those works of the imagination and the intellect are not taught there as a caricature and a spoof on the Middle Ages. That ought to leave a tiny doubt in the mind of the Harvard professor and his cohorts of nihilists and relativists including the atheist Bertrand Russell that perhaps the concept of hell has a nexus to the concept of free will, given that all those people we meet there in Dante’s hell (all historical and including three Popes) are there of their own free choice. Santayana, for one well understood that nexus. He too taught at Harvard University.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 16:43:15
I wonder who were the professors who taught you philosophy, if you ever took a philosophy course. since what Descartes says at the beginning of his method is there to lay the foundations of objective knowledge and to claim otherwise indicated a sever lack of understanding of basic philosophy. Ask the voices when they come to visit. Even they will confirm it.

As for knowledge of English: "therefore" is mispelled in your comment but I'll be a bit more rational and just call it a typo. But the question persists: should those who live in glass houses be claiming an absolute knowledge of English and be obsessively and selectively be correcting others? What does that say about the true agenda behind your comments? Answer that to yourself, subjectively, no need to incriminate yourself.

Sand2008-01-14 17:25:35
Taking Descartes' statement as it is written, to describe it as anything but subjective (since it is about an individual perceiving his own thoughts) can only be the conclusion of a total fool, no matter how it was qualified. I don't need a professor to teach me to understand a simple sentence.
"Therefor" is spelled precisely as I wrote it on page 1472 of the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary Copyright 1989. You might have dozed quite a bit in class in attaining your degree.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 18:03:52
Let us if I understand this semtemce of yours:

""Therefor" is spelled precisely as I wrote it on page 1472 of the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary Copyright 1989."

As per the English of most sane people that means that you wrote the dictionary and have therefore decided on your authority and in your head that "therefore" is to be spelled "therefor" and that my Oxford University Dictionary has mispelled the word. What do the Oxford dons know about the English language? The question therefore arises: have the voices been visiting again? You still have not answered whether or not those who live in glass houses ought to be throwing stones at those passing by.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 18:08:01
The first sentence above contains a typo: semtemce should be spelled sentence even if you consult the dictionary in your head. Moreover the word "if" before I is missing. It it indeed easy to acknowledge reality and fess up to one's mistakes and ignorance. Even Socrates used to say: I know that I don't know.

Sand2008-01-14 18:45:54
You deserve a pat on the head. You're a good boy. Intellectually challenged but good.

Sand2008-01-14 18:48:21
I am not about to get in between you and a war with the Webster people. But until you demolish them I will treat them as a valid source.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 19:38:40
I thought so! A high five for deviousness. Continue spelling therefore with a final e, that way you'll stand out better and may receive more high fives by the sycophantic voices who agree with you.

Sand2008-01-14 20:05:08
Since I never used a final "e" you have demonstrated that not only are you careless and stupid, you are going blind. Poor fellow!

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-14 21:18:55
And yet there are other writings of yours where the final e is used. One thing is going blind and another is to be so devious that one ends up tricking oneself and throwing oneself out the window with one's own bootstraps. Poor fellow, indeed.

Sand2008-01-15 06:39:14
First you claim my absence of the final "e" is objectionable and then you complain that my use of it is bad. Whatever mind you may possess (which you continuously demonstrate is feeble and badly structured)seems to be at war with itself.
My Webster dictionary presents both spellings as acceptable so you had better get a more current dictionary if you want to be seriously considered.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-15 15:43:28
Considered for what? By whom, the voices? For the bonfire perhaps?

Sand2008-01-15 17:08:52
Although your church and the Nazis were fond of consigning people and documents to the flames it really does you no good to participate in the process. Just spend a bit of your ill gotten gains for a decent dictionary. And don't drool over the pages.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 13:03:55
Since true to form you cavalierly and egregiously slander and smear from the relative legal safety of a far away country, one has to begin wandering whether or not you may indeed be refugee of sort spending there your "ill gotten gains." I predict that being served with one's own medicine will prove somewhat distastful to your palate, but then inveterate rationalists simply do not know where to draw the line.

Sand2008-01-16 15:47:25
"Slander and smear" are rather peculiar characterization of my informing you of a correct dictionary spelling. I can only conclude your responses are a definite indication of some sort of psychosis.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 18:28:22
Indeed! My dictionary spells therefore with an e at the end and yours without an e since you informed us that you wrote the ditionary. Who is the psychotic? That ought to be an easy one. If it its not, ask the voices next time they visit.

Sand2008-01-16 19:20:36
This is my previous post. Read it again more carefully.
I never, anywhere, claimed to have written a ditionary, whatever that might be.

Sand 2008-01-15 06:39:14
First you claim my absence of the final "e" is objectionable and then you complain that my use of it is bad. Whatever mind you may possess (which you continuously demonstrate is feeble and badly structured)seems to be at war with itself.
My Webster dictionary presents both spellings as acceptable so you had better get a more current dictionary if you want to be seriously considered.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 20:53:17
""Therefor" is spelled precisely as I wrote it on page 1472 of the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary Copyright 1989."

The above is your previous posting copied verbatim. From it, anybody with a modicum of knowledge of the English language would have to conclude that you wrote a dictionary (in your head) where "therefore" is spelled without an "e" at the end. It may be a Freudian slip but revealing nonetheless. As Kierkegaard pointed out, the worst sickness is that of which we are not even aware of. In any case, it is unwise and even stupid for those living in glass house to be throwing stones at those passing by the house. Given that fifty per cent of those who write in this magazine have typos and even bad grammar and syntax in their writings, your selectivity in correcting mistakes (without accepting any directed at you) parading as a passionate love of the English language is also quite revealing. We need not exclaim "go figure!" Even a Forrest Gump could figure out what the real motive is, and it is not an very honorable one either.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 21:03:24
The above comment has two grammar mistakes: the "a" before hourse is missing and the "an" should be "a." In case you have not noticed yet, typos are practically unavoidable by mere mortals, especially when they are more concerned with content than form and are writing fast. Only the gods make no mistakes and when a human declares that he makes no mistake, i.e., that he is a god most other humans begin to suspect his sanity and watch him carefully.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 21:08:47
Here is the above corrected:

The above comment has two grammar mistakes: the "a" before house is missing and the "an" should be "a." In case you have not noticed yet, typos are practically unavoidable by mere mortals, especially when they are more concerned with content than form and are writing fast. Only the gods make no mistakes and when a human declares that he makes no mistakes, i.e., that he is a god, most other humans begin to suspect his sanity and watch him carefully.

Most publishers have editors to correct typos which are made even by English professors, even by those who write dictionaries in their head; most probably even by editors. Indeed we are not gods and it behoves us to recognize it.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-16 21:13:11
P.S. By the way, before you jump on it, the above "behove" is not a typo. The Oxford University English Dictionary allows for a dual spelling as "behove" or "behoove" (more common in the US). The same dictionary says nothing about dual spelling for "therefore."

Sand2008-01-16 21:27:34
I wonder how a university could possibly hire an idiot like you.
I have no interest in your linguistic explorations.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-17 02:29:00
That makes sense. To be interested in those exploration may mean to find out that therefore is spelled with an a "e" at the end and obviate one's own personal mental dictionary.

Regarding your vituperations which seem to be integral part of your boorish personality and mind-set, has it ever occurred to you that to call anybody who disagrees with you an idiot and other egregious epithets of a foul mouth may well be the most idiotic stance that a man endowed with a mind can take in the interrelationship with his fellow men? Besides what it says about your lack of honesty and integrity, at all levels. I doubt it, and that is a pity!

Sand2008-01-17 06:28:36
If my appraisal of you was a matter of vituperation it indeed would not be admirable but since you have exhibited a plethora of idiotic characteristic it is obvious to even the casual observer that you are indeed an idiot so my labeling of you as such can only be considered a dispassionate evaluation with which, considering the situation, I hardly expect you to concur.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-17 11:00:34
I concur that you really believe that yours is an objecive and "dispassionate evaluation," but you see, that is the problem. In insane asylums they all believe that they have a dispassionate and objective evaluation of one another.

Sand2008-01-17 14:52:25
Your absolute familiarity with what goes on in insane asylums contributes to my suspicions about your sanity. You seem to have spent a good deal of time there.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-17 17:07:11
No doubt the voices who visit you from time to time have convinced you that this too is a "dispassioned evaluation." Do what Descartes did: sit in a closet and make believe they don't exist and then create your own logic and methodology for arriving at reality. Who knows, they may stop visiting.

Sand2008-01-17 17:37:24
Whether or not I am without passion is a subjective judgment of my own and you have no way to determine this.
All people have internal discussions and those voices are used to determine thinking processes. Since you find these internal discussions alien you therefor have no means to progress in thinking and thereby confirm why you say such stupid things.

Emanuel Paparella2008-01-19 02:10:23
When you have those internal discussion do those characters show up with a tail, horns and pitchfork? Could they be the succubi described by you in another piece where you slander the Church about whom you seem to have same familiarity? If they encourage to wear horns besides a tail, do not follow their advice; they are deceivers.

d7samurai2012-02-22 02:02:38
Sand for president!

Popcorn2014-07-24 22:39:14
I don't see anything in the argument that supports the implied assertion that human minds are different from Chinese Rooms. Our subjective experience of "intentionality" and "understanding" are not sufficient. Neither is understood well enough, nor is the "artificial" version developed enough, for this to be taken as fact.

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