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On Consciousness: Understanding John Searle's Basic Teachings - Essay Example

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On Consciousness: Understanding John Searle's Basic Teachings

However, Searle points out that consciousness differs from other biological phenomena since it has a subjective or first-person ontology. With this, Searle asserts that a conscious state is not a separate entity from a physical state, but rather a state where the brain is in. Through this reasoning Searle is able to deny the concepts of duality (separation of soul from the body) and materialism (no material but only spiritual). Jean Searle’s concept of biological naturalism is unique in a sense that it marries physicality and spirituality in defining the nature of consciousness. This is tightly linked with his definition of the human brain, that which sustains human subjectivity. For this matter, I strongly believe that Jean Searle’s notion is conceptually problematic in a number of ways. Firstly, Searle is misled by the concepts of human brain and human intellect. While it is true that psychological activities are and should be within the boundaries of the physical body, this does not directly mean that all activities are contained within a specific section of the human brain. This is the reason why it will be difficult and almost impossible to embark on an experiment that specifically tackles consciousness because this is spiritual in nature. Secondly, his notion of a unified subjective experience as a definition of consciousness reinforces the fact that the human brain can only act as a mediator for the spiritual facet of human nature. This is precisely because intellectual activities, although solely mediated by a physical object, relies on a spiritual realm for it to function. Such a thing, I believe, is the human soul. 2. What is the difference between syntactic knowledge and semantic knowledge? Cite examples from your own experience.  Syntactic knowledge pertains to syntax or grammar while semantic knowledge relates with the full meaning of the language. Syntactic knowledge is the information that is used and maintained to efficiently use a system. Thus, syntactic knowledge is mastered through a particular programming language that comes from a series of commands and syntactical rules. However, it is crucial to note that complex systems are often difficult to use, especially with hierarchical or modular structures. For example, in a mail system where there are various commands that terminate a writing activity (cancelling a work, sending a message, storing a draft, or quitting the message altogether), most of these commands usually have a similar syntax but different modes of operation. Based on my own experience, syntactic knowledge is best displayed in one of my programming classes wherein I had to create a simple program for an online survey. Through use of yes-no logical statements, I were able to craft the overall flow of the questionnaire for the survey. Semantic knowledge, on the other hand, is the meaning created by the agent about external reality. Such knowledge is built through human language. In this regard, the assignment of meaning on an external phenomenon begins with the agent’s contact of any physical entity. This contact allows the agent to construct symbolic meaning about the phenomenon which is influenced by a variety of factors such as demographical background, cultural influences, and quality of lifestyle. The consolidation of these symbolic meanings shapes the agent’ ...Show more


On Consciousness: Understanding John Searle’s Basic Teachings Name Year Level – Section Subject Professor May 8, 2012 On Consciousness by John Searle 1. In the Electronic Reserve Reading “Consciousness,” John Searle poses some basic questions regarding the subjectivity of consciousness and whether this is strictly a biological process…
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