Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 26, 2023, 8:46 a.m. Humanist 36.481 - followup: agency & intelligence

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 481.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2023-03-25 16:58:27+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.479: followup: agency & intelligence

Tim -

Well, yes, writing without deliberate intent is itself an intentional act,
but intention in that case is irrelevant to interpretation. We don't need
to suss it out to get to the text's meaning. That's the point the
discussion always circles back to: intention is irrelevant to

And what happens when a person writes without intention? What do we mean
when we say that? I think we mean he or she doesn't write linearly toward a
predetermined end. But the words come from somewhere: free association? So
could this be perhaps the spontaneous intention of mind without the
directing intention of the will?

So I think it's the other way around. Agency can be blind and unthinking -
a thing can cause a thing to happen. Happens all the time. We need
consciousness to have intention of any kind, though. ChatGPT doesn't choose
not to be intentional.

Jim R

On Sat, Mar 25, 2023 at 2:24 AM Humanist <> wrote:

> Dear James,
> I too write words that others find meaning in which I had no
> intention of putting there.
> Still, one way to read what I wrote [1] is that it's not
> agency that matters, it's intentionality.
> And notice that writing without intending to say anything, or
> knowing what to say, is intentional.
> And remark that, that's what makes intentionality count, and
> agency not.
> If this is flogging something that's dead, then I'm trying to
> raise its ghost to haunt the Plastic texts (and images and
> sounds) that ChatGPT, and its ilk, are used to produce.
> Best regards,
> Tim

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