Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Could a machine ever think dialectically? There are many ways to make this a stupid question, or to make it beside the point. You could say, for example, that even a machine that can play Chess and beat up Chess grandmasters is not really thinking Chess (cf. Searle, Dreyfuss). But I think it’s enough of a question that, to treat it properly, you have to handle it with kid gloves. You have to define its terms in such a way that it is a good question, even if the definitions are not good definitions but only barely passable ones.

Maybe it can be rephrased this way. Could a computer be programmed to manipulate symbols such that a clever drudge – someone not entirely shut away from latent dialectical possibilities, and yet not so utterly their agent that inert material also becomes the occasion for their activation – reading its outputs would be led by the nose to think dialectically?

You could say such a clever drudge is a propagandistic grey area who necessarily doesn’t exist. If so, is it for the sake of the dialectic that she doesn’t?


  1. Open paper for Chaos Sutherland? Baby flakes think IPR, think! Sx

  2. yeah- but only if the evolutionary process that gives rise to the perceptual systemisation which makes the abstraction possible/necessary could be uploaded into said kasporov engine.

    Thought, and other responses to the environment, are at some level transmitted biologically over generations and this process needs to be unlocked before the machine could get the significance of, say, the Lewis pieces. In this argument dialectic thought is not so much a sign of human activity but intrinsic to it, like.