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[Philosophy 100] John Searle's Chinese Room Argument

  • Feb 21, 2013 · 7:00 PM

The Chinese Room Argument, John Searle

Wikipedia entry:

Discussion on Stanford's Plato site:

Wikipedia entry on Turing Test:

Various versions of the argument should be available online with a bit of searching. I highly recommend reading some of the responses to the argument as well (Dennett, Minsky, Churchland, Block and/or Boden, would be good ones to start with).


A note on text selection:
It was decided in our last meeting (Feb. 8 2013), that we'd break-up a more-or-less chronological/thematic series of readings with smaller contemporary or ancient readings. This would be our approach moving forward.

So, for example, we'll take a session to read a short paper by John Searle (a modern American philosopher) before returning to read John Locke (as the follow-on to Descartes). There's some interest in reading a Platonic dialogue as well, so we might tackle a short dialogue like The Symposium when we're through with Locke.

A note on our methodology.
READING: We don't tackle the full text in one sitting. We read smaller pieces of the text so we may have more detailed and (hopefully) rewarding discussion at the meetings. We will follow natural breaks in the texts and try to ensure no text takes longer than three months to read in full.

PRESENTATION: One member of the group will be responsible for presenting the reading at each meeting. The presenter should come prepared, preferably with notes to share with the other members of the group. Presentation is voluntary and really just ensures that at least ONE member of the group has actually read the assignment critically. Presenters are decided at the previous meeting and it is entirely voluntary (i.e. no one will force you to present).

SCHEDULE: We will try to schedule our meetings twice a month; on the first and third Thursday.

SECONDARY/SUPPLEMENT READING: We may - often - supplement the primary text with some secondary or supplemental reading to better understand/situate the text.

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  • Joe G.

    was just sharing with Kit on how i sometimes just read sparknotes, since they do cite the key ideas in any reading, but also acknowledge that when u skip the main text, u lose out on some interesting examples that the authors cite. i was just glancing thru the 6th meditation when i notice this ...

    "And yet I have sometimes been informed by parties whose arm or leg had been amputated, that they still occasionally seemed to feel pain in that part of the body which they had lost"

    wow. he cited the phemomena of "phantom limb" in 1650s.
    that is pretty awesome.

    February 24, 2013

  • kit

    Hope it's okay if I advertize the next meetup for the Philosophy Group.

    Liberty,equality, justice: what is the most fundamental societal value?

    February 24, 2013

  • Valerie

    Hi All. Would like to join the next discussion, if it is on Thursday after next?

    February 23, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      eh, where got? :-P

      February 23, 2013

    • Joe G.

      when my phone loaded, i got a bit confused, cos Valerie had the exact same photo as Weiyang. but sometimes, the phone does strange things. right now, the computer is showing it as empty. anyway, just to highlight again, its an open group, and everyone is free to join. now that Kit has uploaded a photo, it would be much easier to recognize any of us. and yes, like Mark, i learned a lot about AI - history and all - from both Mischa and Kit. this filler episode has been great fun, but now onto the main story arc :)

      February 23, 2013

  • Mark

    Found out a lot of fascinating stuff about Artificial Intelligence and how it relates to the human mind. I don't think John Searle's arguments withstand all the criticisms directed at it, but I found the article a really valuable (and mostly sensible) one for framing the problems and issues at stake. Thanks Joe for presenting, and Kit and Mischa for filling us in on the history and workings of AI.

    February 22, 2013

  • Thomas L

    sorry I have something on tmr. See you guys another time!

    February 20, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    sorry, gotta pass on this. i promise to read up though. it is a fascinating topic!

    February 20, 2013

  • Joe G.

    hi all, receive queries from interested ppl - its an open group :) anyone can come along :) kindly just RSVP. see u ppl soon.

    February 15, 2013

  • Joe G. - think i found the room, with the man sitting in it.

    February 9, 2013

  • Mischa Beitz changed the date and time to Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    February 8, 2013

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