X-Message-Number: 21695
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 13:21:32 EDT
Subject: more misunderstandings

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Thomas Donaldson writes:

> No, everything we do is NOT symbolic. The fact that we can use
> symbols to describe it does not mean that it is itself symbolic,
> other than in the trivial sense in which you simply identify
> events and symbols. I will go so far as to say that this is
> a fundamental but common error which ultimately comes from the
> fact that human beings use language to describe the world. (Yes,
> we describe the world with a symbolic language, but the world
> itself is not symbolic).

Well, you said you were sleepy, Thomas, so maybe you were dreaming that I 
said or implied that everything we do is symbolic. (Hmm, what was that dream 
a symbol of?) The question was whether our brains use symbols to represent 
and interpret the environment, and of course they do. The environment is 
real, and our brains are real, but the signals inside the brain that allow us 
to think about the environment are obviously used as symbols--except for 
qualia, which are not just signals or symbols but experiences, although they 
also have signal functions.

Robert Ettinger


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