Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Graded Blog - Option 1

I am not going to lie; this paper was very difficult for me to read. I found many of the passages hard to interpret in Lyotard’s “Can Thought Go On Without A Body.” I may have interpreted certain parts very differently than other people. I tried to use a passage that others haven’t discussed yet. It is very hard to try to think of a way that a machine could possibly think as a human does, while possessing emotion and everything else that goes through the human brain.

One of the passages that I had to read over numerous times was when Lyotard said, “The unthought hurts because we’re comfortable in what’s already thought. And thinking, which is accepting this discomfort, is also, to put it bluntly, and attempt to have done with it. That’s the hope sustaining all writing (painting, etc.): that at the end, things will be better. As there is no end, this hope is illusory. So: the unthought would have to make your machines uncomfortable, the uninscribed that remains to be inscribed would have to make their memory suffer. Do you see what I mean? Otherwise why would they ever start thinking? We need machines that suffer from the burden of their memory.” (Lyotard, 20).

What Lyotard is trying to say in this passage is that if we let things go and don’t think about things that bother us, that they will just go away. The problems will just solve themselves. “That at the end, things will be better.” We don’t want to have to think of ways to solve problems, especially if they are uncomfortable to even think about. Also, if some of these thoughts haven’t been thought yet then we could not possible inscribe them into a machine. That would be like giving a machine knowledge that we do not even have yet (which would not be possible).

If we were to make machines that were capable of human thought, then they would also have to be able to have feelings as humans do. They would have to have feelings because some of our human thoughts cause discomfort and uneasiness to the thinker. If we were to make a machine that thought like a human then to make it legit, they would have to get the same feelings from the thoughts.

In my opinion, this is such a hard concept for us because these machines don’t exist yet. It is hard to think of making a machine that thinks as we do when we ourselves don’t even know what we are thinking all of the time. Lyotard makes this so hard to understand because even if making these machines was possible, the human race would not be around to see if it could happen. There would be no proof of it happening.

Another problem with this is that, these “robots” would have all old thought. They would not be capable of coming up with new thoughts. Also, how could we possible put all human thought into one of these machines? We, as humans, come up with new thoughts everyday.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Let me begin with a question.

Do we humans really think new things every day? That really depends on what we mean by thinking, of course. Using an ordinary, everyday definition of thinking, it's easy to say "of course we do." For instance, I have never read (until today) some of the responses to Lyotard that I'm seeing. Somewhere, someone is thinking of adding cinnamon to a stir-fry - someone is thinking of a new way to cook.

But is this really what Lyotard means by "thinking"? You do rather well at the beginning exploring the identity Lyotard creates between thinking and suffering (strange, though, that you present this as a passage other people haven't been working with - many people have!). But if there is such an identity between thinking and suffering, between thought and feeling (which is how you put, I think), then are we _really_ thinking most of the time we think we are?

Although you acknowledge Lyotard's difficulty, you aren't recognizing at least one of the critical ways in which he is strange - he does not understand even "thinking" in a conventional way...