Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Francois-Marie Voltaire, John Searle and Barbara Vetter

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4 ideas

15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
We don't have a "theory" that other people have minds [Searle]
     Full Idea: Except when doing philosophy there is no "problem" of other minds, because we do not hold a "hypothesis" or "belief" or "supposition" that other people are conscious.
     From: John Searle (The Rediscovery of the Mind [1992], Ch. 3.IV)
     A reaction: Our commitment to other minds is so deep-ingrained that it is a candidate for one of Hume's 'natural beliefs', or even (a step further) for an innate idea. Babies have an innate recognition of faces, so why can't an expectation of a mind be hard-wired?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / d. Other minds by analogy
Other minds are not inferred by analogy, but are our best explanation [Searle]
     Full Idea: If we inferred other minds simply from behaviour, we would conclude that radios are conscious; it is rather the combination of behaviour with knowledge of the causal underpinnings of behaviour.
     From: John Searle (The Rediscovery of the Mind [1992], Ch. 1.V.4)
     A reaction: Personally I am inclined to think that Searle has said the last word on the fairly uninteresting problem of other minds. Dualism generates a deep privacy problem, and analogy is a flawed argument, but best explanation is exactly what we rely on.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
We experience unity at an instant and across time [Searle]
     Full Idea: We experience 'horizontal unity' in the organisation of conscious experiences through short stretches of time, and 'vertical unity' in simultaneous awareness of diverse features of our experience.
     From: John Searle (The Rediscovery of the Mind [1992], Ch. 6.I.2)
     A reaction: See Betjeman's poem "On the Ninth Green at St Enedoc". The brain is an information-unification machine, and 'I' am located at the crossroads where these unifications meet. Analysis of mind is good for us, but so is reunification afterwards.
Explanation of how we unify our mental stimuli into a single experience is the 'binding problem' [Searle]
     Full Idea: The 'binding problem' is how to explain how the brain binds all our different stimuli into a single unified experience of an object.
     From: John Searle (The Mystery of Consciousness [1997], Ch.2)
     A reaction: This may be the best way of expressing what philosophers call (after Chalmers) the 'Hard Question'. Large objects are held together by gravity, and small objects by electro-magnetism. We don't see a 'binding problem' in the function of a leaf.