Re: Symbolic vs Situated Action (Re: "Consciousness")

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Mon, 1 Jul 1996 19:14:00 -0700

On Mon, 1 Jul 1996, Sheldon Klein wrote:
answering my comment:

> > I can understand from this that, suitably analyzed, "free will" is
> > a relic of "folk psychology," but not "consciousness." Is there
> > some real reason for linking them?
> >
> > (Cogent points, BTW)
> Can you make the 'suitable analysis' explicit?
> I sometimes tell my classes that,
> "People don't think- they just think they think."
> A decade ago, this was good for smiles all around.
> Now, to my dismay, it's taken seriously.

Progris! Ain't it grand?

Suitable analysis: Doing much handwaving here, I could argue that
most of the actions I take, from scratching at my nose to falling in love
to selecting cheeseburger over filet mignon at lunchtime, are done without
great intellectual involvement. I am more machine-like than I care to
admit to myself. This puts constraints on the circumstances in which I am
apt to find myself-- I won't be in Chicago at midnight, for example, hunting
pixies with bow and arrow--, which makes my life even more stable, serene,
and machinelike.
(In some paradoxical way, it seems the more I use my intellect to
dominate the world about me, the less need I have for an intellect. But this
is just a throwaway remark.)
Anyhow, any analysis of my behavior which ignored intentionality and
consciousness would probably be 90% right-- and more accurate than analysis
which assumed I actually planned every action and remark and nervous tic
that I produced. Thus my belief that I control my actions is mistaken--
it's "folk psychology."

This contains some incredibly sloppy reasoning, but you didn't ask
for rigor as I read your request, just the outlines of some kind of
plausibility argument, which I was free to believe or disbelieve in.
(I've made it, I don't believe it.)

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge