Smart Software Can Output Like a Real Humanoid Philosopher. Mere Humanoids Are Fooled.

August 5, 2022

I cannot resist commenting on “In Experiment, AI Successfully Impersonates Famous Philosopher.” For a year or two I studied phenomenological existentialism at the Jesuit-linked Duquesne University in the idyllic village of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yes, take a deep breath. Enjoy the clean, crisp air. Ahh, memories.

Here’s a sample of the texts the quite serious and generally smart, multi-lingual students read, discussed, and in one case came to fisticuffs over a controversial interpretation by a free thinking student. (Jesuit school, philosophy, and reasonably bright students. Quite a tinderbox after a two hour lecture, a couple of short presentations, and the invigorating Pittsburgh air flowing into the classroom on a muggy early May day.

This passage comes from Edmund Husserl’s Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy:

Any eidetic particularization and singularization of an eidetically universal predicatively formed affair-complex, in so far as it is that, is called an eidetic necessity. Eidetic universality and eidetic necessity are therefore correlates. But the use of the word “necessity” varies following the interrelated correlations: the corresponding judgments are also called necessary. It is important, however, to heed the distinctions and above all not to designate eidetic universality a necessity (as people usually do). The consciousness of a necessity, more particularly a judging consciousness in which there is consciousness of a predicatively formed affair-complex as a particularization of an eidetic universality, is called an apodictic consciousness; the judgment itself, the asserted proposition, is called an apodictic (also an apodictically “ necessary” ) consequence of the universal judgment with which it is connected. The stated propositions about the relations among universality, necessity, and apodicticity can be framed more universally so that they hold good for any, and not only for purely eidetic, spheres. Obviously, however, they require a distinctive and particularly important sense within the eidetic limitation. (page 37)

Keep in mind that this passage from Edmund’s pen is “real”, just translated from the German original because why put another hurdle in front of a Husserl lover who wants to do a TikTok on Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy.

Now here’s a passage from the article cited above “In Experiment, AI Successfully Impersonates Famous Philosopher.” I want to point out the AI did not go for Husserl, who admittedly, is going to require time and patience to read. (Hey, the mid-term in Dr. Chivers’ class was a hoot. Wow, everyone loved Husserl except the Jesuit who bashed the non-believer in the nose about eidetic signs.)

“Even knowledgeable philosophers who are experts on Dan Dennett’s [a modern philosopher presumably more clear than Edmund] work have substantial difficulty distinguishing the answers created by this language generation program from Dennett’s own answers,” said Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at University California Riverside.

My reaction? Wow, people cannot tell the difference between output from smart software and prose generated by thinkers of Edmund Husserl’s ilk?

Who would have thought this possible?

Answer: Anyone familiar with the intellectual capabilities of some modern readers and some smart software. Why didn’t the now famous former Google engineer dive into the philosophy space? Too late now.

Stephen E Arnold, August 5, 2022


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