Re: Qualia (Was Re: Re: Emulation vs. Simulation)

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Tue Mar 27 2001 - 16:03:37 MST

Brent Allsop wrote:

> But then Dennett's claim: we don't have qualia "It just seems
> that we do" wasn't published in his book until 1992 right? Who had
> this idea before him so that Fodor could make this criticism?

Dennett is just the latest in a long string of folks of this kind.

Skinner is probably the first and most well known proponent of a
theory like this, though most people today regard his theory to be
wildly flawed. Hilary Putnam invented the philosophy of
functionalism; coupled with Alan Turing's work, one of the most
popular mental anti-realist views today is Turing-functionalism, the
view that X is conscious if X has the capacity to pass the Turing

(Turing himself was influenced by the logical positivists like Ayer,
who regard non-empirical questions which aren't questions of pure
logic to be entirely meaningless. Nobody likes logical positivism any
more either, as it is widely regarded as radically

Those are definitely amongst the most important names in the 20th
century. To the best of my knowledge, Dennett hasn't really
contributed much to the philosophical field as such, except to the
extent that his work with Hofstadter and others on AI has formalized
physicalist answers to old mental realist objections. As AI becomes a
richer and richer field, the views of Turing-functionalists and others
become increasingly plausible.

Frege, who invented modern logic, had some really wacky views about
the philosophy of language, one of which was that ordinary sentences
had two parts to their meaning, one of which might be a real thing,
the other of which existed not in the mind or in the world but in a
"third realm" not unlike the realm of Plato's forms. How did he get
people to believe this? Well, by showing how useful his logic is, and
demonstrating how his philosophy of language could be used to settle
interesting puzzles in the analysis of reference.

Dennett's doing something similar.

> I'm sure not very good at history. It's to bad such good ideas are
> so easily lost or ignored by people such as Dennett...? I
> continually find that most of the Ideas I've had about consciousness
> many philosophers have had very close ideas to such as far back as
> Descartes and earlier. I just can't understand why so many people
> so easily dismiss, ignore, and more or less loose such great
> information and more of it isn't maintained in the popular press and
> writings on this topic. How can it be that all forms of
> "representationalism", and it's implications, and ease of
> explaining/predicting so many things, are so completely ignored
> today? It just blows my mind.

Anyway, Dennett has NOT ignored representationalism. Fodor and
Dennett have discussed these arguments *in person.* Go to his online
publications listing:

I count at least three references to Fodor in article titles alone,
say nothing of further responses to Fodor in articles he's already

Here, read this, for example:

Anyway, such objections as representationalism are in no way decisive
against Dennett's views about the mind. Read Churchland's "Matter and
Consciousness," which is on the extropian reading list.


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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