Letter to John Searle

My chances of meeting a philosophy professor casually have been dashed forever with the demise of Sadlacks, but 20 (ugh) years ago I took a Philosophy of Mind course at NCSU. I didn’t do too well I thought and squeaked out a B. I wasn’t a Philosophy major so I would casually use rhetorical arguments instead of rigorous proof in my essays. Someone that caught me particularly was John Searle and I knew intuitively that I had to tear down his arguments. But that was not what was required from the class. It’s interesting to see that Searle backed off from his Chinese Experiment a bit and I had always wanted to talk to him about it because I thought at scale, if there were billions of Chinese rooms fulfilling different algorithms on external data, they might be running a consciousness program… and then how do you prove that organism was or was not conscious?

I always thought of him as an unpleasant person but after watching him on video last year I found him to be an absolute charmer. A very pleasant and engaging personality. There are still some points that I just don’t know how I could agree with him on but in general he seemed most delightful indeed. I recently took a trip to California and my friend suggested I attempt to contact him… but aside from my chickening out entirely the logistics of my stay were centred around my not putting a lot of effort into my entertainment.

So a blog post will do for now 🙂