UFO Conjectures

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seeing Things as They Are: A Theory of Perception by John R Searle

This is from Amazon's cursory introduction to John Searle's book (entitled above):

"Searle begins by criticizing the classical theories of perception and identifies a single fallacy, what he calls the Bad Argument, as the source of nearly all of the confusions in the history of the philosophy of perception. He next justifies the claim that perceptual experiences have presentational intentionality and shows how this justifies the direct realism of his account. In the central theoretical chapters, he shows how it is possible that the raw phenomenology must necessarily determine certain form of intentionality. Searle introduces, in detail, the distinction between different levels of perception from the basic level to the higher levels and shows the internal relation between the features of the experience and the states of affairs presented by the experience. The account applies not just to language possessing human beings but to infants and conscious animals. He also discusses how the account relates to certain traditional puzzles about spectrum inversion, color and size constancy and the brain-in-the-vat thought experiments. In the final chapters he explains and refutes Disjunctivist theories of perception, explains the role of unconscious perception, and concludes by discussing traditional problems of perception such as skepticism."

This is from Wikipedia about John Searle:

John Rogers Searle (/sɜrl/; born July 31, 1932) is an American philosopher and currently the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. Widely noted for his contributions to thephilosophy of language, philosophy of mind and social philosophy, he began teaching at Berkeley in 1959. He received the Jean Nicod Prize in 2000; the National Humanities Medal in 2004 and the Mind and Brain Prize in 2006. Among his notable concepts is the "Chinese room" argument against "strong" artificial intelligence.

You can read the whole Searle bio here:


Some comments from the Wikipedia article:

Searle argues that philosophy has been trapped by a false dichotomy: that, on the one hand, the world consists of nothing but objective particles in fields of force, but that yet, on the other hand, consciousness is clearly a subjective first-person experience.

Searle says simply that both are true: consciousness is a real subjective experience, caused by the physical processes of the brain. (A view which he suggests might be called biological naturalism.)

Searle goes on to affirm that "where consciousness is concerned, the existence of the appearance is the reality".[40] His view that the epistemic and ontological senses of objective/subjective are cleanly separable is crucial to his self-proclaimed biological naturalism.

A consequence of biological naturalism is that if we want to create a conscious being, we will have to duplicate whatever physical processes the brain goes through to cause consciousness. Searle thereby means to contradict what he calls "Strong AI", defined by the assumption that as soon as a certain kind of software is running on a computer, a conscious being is thereby created.

Searle argues that this is impossible, since consciousness is a physical property, like digestion or fire. No matter how good a simulation of digestion you build on the computer, it will not digest anything; no matter how well you simulate fire, nothing will get burnt. By contrast, informational processes are observer-relative: observers pick out certain patterns in the world and consider them information processes, but information processes are not things-in-the-world themselves. Since they do not exist at a physical level, Searle argues, they cannot have causal efficacy and thus cannot cause consciousness. There is no physical law, Searle insists, that can see the equivalence between a personal computer, a series of ping-pong balls and beer cans, and a pipe-and-water system all implementing the same program.

Why am I presenting this here?

It represents a collegial/academic approach to the study of UFOs, a new kind of ufology as it were.

That is, the discussion of UFOs has got to enter a new phase, a reboot, as Psychologist Tim Brigham recommended in a comment to my posting about the demise of "ufology."

Ufology, as it is, is worthless, dead in every sense of the term...except to those who think "the Walking Dead" are viable creatures.

Ufology, and Roswell, with it, despite my friend Kevin Randle's insistent resurrection of Roswell (to what end, baffles), need to be addressed (or refreshed) in new ways, using a new sobriquet and methodology that takes into account the rational aspects of philosophy, psychology, neurology, and the physical sciences such as cosmology and quantum mechanics.

Understanding Searle and other thinkers, skeptics among, them is a first step in intellectualizing UFOs and a new "ufology."

Any suggestions for a new agnomen is welcome for discussion.