[FOM] The Lucas-Penrose Thesis

hendrik@topoi.pooq.com hendrik at topoi.pooq.com
Thu Sep 28 11:27:51 EDT 2006

On Wed, Sep 27, 2006 at 08:01:22AM +0200, Muller F.A. wrote:
>  In 1961 the Oxford philosopher J.R. Lucas
>  argued, roughly put (I know), that minds 
>  cannot be (modelled as) machines due to Godel's
>  Incompleteness Theorem.
>  The thesis became famous when Roger Penrose
>  propounded it in his best-seller *The
>  Emperor's New Mind*.

I have always been impressed by the clarity of his argument
which says (oversimplified) that if his mind is an automoton 
(however constructed), and if further his mind perceives its own
consistency, then he is caught in a contradiction.

What surprised me was that he chooses to interpret this as an
argument that his mind in not an automaton, rather than an
argument that his mind may be capable of mistaken, even
inconsistent reasoning.

Inconsistent reasoning might indeed lead him to believe
that his reasoning is consistent.

>  Rumour has it
>  that he only responds to friendly criticisms,
>  which leave the core of the cherished thesis 
>  in tact, while he ignores devastating 
>  criticisms, or only mentions them in order
>  to ignore them. 

I am aware that most people reason inconsistently at times,
and many resist any suggestion that they might be doing so.

-- hendrik boom

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