Hi there. I have a question about Searle's Chinese room argument. In it he seems to argue that purely syntactic programs are not sufficient for semantic content. From a biological perspective, I was wondering what if the program (genetic material) used the symbols themselves (proteins) to build a machine (a brain) that was capable of understanding meaning? What effect, if any, would this have on Searle's argument? I don't have any training in philosophy, so if you could pitch your answer with that in mind that would be great.
Searle's argument is that merely running a program cannot be enough for understanding, provided one understands 'running a program' in terms of symbol shuffling, rather than shuffling any particular physical stuff around. The response that you suggest involves shuffling particular physical stuff: proteins and nucleotides. There are two senses of 'running a program' at issue. What Searle has in mind is the sense in which electronic computers run their programs. In this case, it doesn't matter what physical stuff the symbols are made out of: they could be electronic pulses, clockwork springs, or anything. Your sense of running a program is more specific: it is the sense in which our genetic material 'program' for our developed physiology. In this case, physical stuff matters a great deal: only proteins and nucleotides do the job; 'running a program' is shorthand for a very specific biological process. Searle might interpret your response as therefore agreeing him that there is more to understanding...