Can computers give an idea to humans?

In a recent article written by Sagar Shah titled (Garry Kasparov still has the magic! ) had an interesting claim: Computers (in this case supercomputers) can give an idea to humans in a chess game. Really?


11…f5!? A very interesting idea suggested by the computer.

This is what exactly written in chessbase article above. Ok. Let me give you some brief information about what is a mind and what is an idea exactly.

The essence or nature of a mind, Descartes says, is to think. If a thing does not think, it is not a mind. In terms of his ontology, the mind is a (finite) substance, and thought or thinking is its attribute. Insofar as the essence or nature of a mind is to think, where thought is the mind’s defining feature, Descartes calls it the mind’s principal attribute. An idea is a mode of thought.

In light of the way that Descartes employed the concept of mode, to say that something is a mode of X is to say that it is a way of being X. Thus, in being a mode of thought, an idea is understood as a way of being thought (or a way in which an instance of thought or thinking is manifested). This is similar to what he says about a body, its principal attribute, and its modes.

The essence or nature of a body is to be extended (in length, breadth, and depth). A body is a (finite) substance, and extension is its attribute. Since extension is the defining feature of a body, Descartes refers to it as a body’s principal attribute. Shape, for example, is a mode of extension. What this means is that shape is a way of being extended (or a way in which an instance of extension is manifested). Thus, shape is to extension as idea is to thought.

Insofar as ideas are modes, they occupy the lowest rung on Descartes’ ontological ladder. This can be contrasted to Plato’s theory, for example, which casts ideas as substances, occupying the upper-most rung of the ontological ladder. So, whereas for Plato ideas are the most real things in the cosmos, for Descartes ideas are among the least real.

Ideas are not the only modes of thought. For example, doubting and judging are modes of thought. Even so, according to at least one analysis Descartes provides, ideas are understood as being elements or constituents of these other modes of thought. Early in the Third Meditation, for instance, Descartes works out a basic division of the modes of thought. He sorts them into two basic kinds: ideas and the other modes of thought, which are more complex since they include an idea and some “additional” mental feature. He writes:

First, however, considerations of order appear to dictate that I now classify my thoughts into definite kinds, and ask which of them can properly be said to be the bearers of truth and falsity. Some of my thoughts are as it were the images of things, and it is only in these cases that the term ‘idea’ is strictly appropriate — for example, when I think of a man, or a chimera, or the sky, or an angel, or God. Other thoughts have various additional forms: thus when I will, or am afraid, or affirm, or deny, there is always a particular thing which I take as the object of my thought, but my thought includes something more than the likeness of that thing. Some thoughts in this category are called volitions or emotions, while others are called judgements.

In this passage, ideas are cast as modes of thought that represent (or present or exhibit — Descartes uses such terms interchangeably) “objects” to the mind. Strictly speaking, it is the only kind of mode that does this. For, even though an instance of one of the more complex modes of thought presents an “object” to the mind, as in the case of one’s fearing a lion or affirming the Pythagorean Theorem (where the lion and the theorem are the “objects” presented), it is the ideational element (the idea) that does the presenting. Even so, Descartes is careful to not identify ideas as pictures or as visual images, but instead says that they are as it were [tanquam] images of things.

So, Mr. Shah please be more careful next time you connect the word idea with supercomputers or whatever giant metal pieces and silicons. Instead of using the word idea I would use the following: A supercomputer suggested a move calculated by brute force. And one final note: How can a computer suggest an idea to humans even they(it) don’t know if they are existed or not?

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