Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mind or Machine?

I have, in various posts, expressed skepticism about the long-standing conversation about whether or not the mind is computational. I pay attention to the debate because I have a professional obligation to know something about it. But those discussions don’t tell me anything I can use in my intellectual work, whether it’s analyzing literary texts and movies, or thinking more generally about mind and culture. Those discussions rarely engage the with ideas and observations that one uses is more “practical” – as if analyzing “Kubla Khan” or King Kong were practical! – intellectual work.

It seems to me that those discussions are fundamentally metaphysical – well, duh! it’s philosophy of mind, no? – but likely ideological and even theological as well. We’ve got thinkers butting heads over fundamental assumptions, but not actually trying to figure anything out. In a way, machine is a proxy for man and all his works while mind is a proxy for God and mystery, or perhaps crass commerce vs. aristocratic noblesse oblige. Maybe both.

It’s not a problem that’s going to be solved. Perhaps, though, it will simply disappear. Spontaneous combustion.

I hope so.

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