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Author Topic: Where does reason come from?  (Read 2137 times)

Offline coberst

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Where does reason come from?
« on: 02/08/2009 20:35:05 »
Where does reason come from?

We rely on our unconscious to furnish the building blocks for comprehension of reality.  If we examine the cognitive sciences and the human sciences we see a constant emphasis about the unconscious.  It is through our conceptual systems, which are unconscious, that we make sense of our every day existence and our everyday metaphysics exists within our conceptual system.

All of our acts and thoughts are based upon philosophical assumptions.  Metaphysics is a fancy word for our concern about ‘what is real’.  For example, whenever we think or speak about responsibility we are assuming causality.  Without causality there is no responsibility.  The nature and status of the self is another speculation, and an important one, in most decisions we make daily.

It appears to me that cognitive science has two paradigms; symbolic manipulation, which is also called AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the second paradigm, which might be called ‘conceptual metaphor’, or it might be called ‘embodied mind’, or ‘embodied realism’.

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science), also known as embodied realism, has taken meaning “to be the central issue.  The central question, as we see it, is how linguistic expressions and the concepts they express can be meaningful”.

Objectivist philosophy has taken the following approach to this question:
“Linguistic expressions and the concepts they express are symbolic structures, meaningless in themselves, that get their meaning via direct, unmediated correlation with things and categories in the actual world (or possible worlds).”

This view of meaning says nothing about human beings, in fact this view finds that computers might well function as substitute human beings.  Embodied realism takes exception to this fundamental point of view.  Embodied realism attempts “to characterize meaning in terms of the nature and experience of the organisms doing the thinking

Objectivism defines meaning as being independent of the experiences of thinking creatures whereas embodied realism “characterizes meaning in terms of embodiment”.

Let us imagine how human reason might have been born.  The question seeking an answer is: how can natural selection (evolution) account for human reason?

Somewhere back in time we must encounter the signs of reason within the capacity of our ancestors.  What is the essence of reason?  The necessary and sufficient conditions for reason are conceptual and inference ability; to ceptualize is to create neural structures that can be used to facilitate making if-then inferences.

Imagine an early water dwelling creature, which must survive utilizing only the ability to move in space and to discriminate light and shadow.  The sense of a shadow can indicate a friend or foe and can indicate eat or not eat.  Assume that this sensibility has a total range of two feet, i.e. a shadow within a radius of two feet of the creature can be detected.

A shadow comes within sensible range, the creature can ‘decide’ by the size of the shadow whether the shadow is friend or foe and as a possible lunch.  If the shadow is large the creature must ‘run’ if it is small the creature might ‘decide’ to pursue.

It seems obvious to me this simple creature must have the ability to reason in order to survive.  This creature must be capable of ascertaining friend/foe and eat/not eat.  It must also determine how to move based upon that conceptual structure.  It must be able to make inferences from these concepts, these neural structures of what is sensed, to survive.  This creature must have the capacity to perceive, conceive, infer, and move correctly in space in order to survive.

Quotes from Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind by George Lakoff
 and Mark Johnson



 


Offline Variola

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Where does reason come from?
« Reply #2 on: 02/08/2009 20:59:24 »
It does make the mind baffle as to why...
 

Offline Simon Waters

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Where does reason come from?
« Reply #3 on: 03/08/2009 00:26:13 »
I think I know the answer. Bertrand Russell was there before me I fear.

Reason, the practical stuff, is what Russell called intuitive logic. It is stuff we use because it works. Thus parts of it can be found by evolution as they correspond to useful solutions to problems in the real world.

Like Russell I got there through maths but mind was a pub argument, where I defended that 2 + 2 is not equal to 4 in some pre-ordained way, it is not something that can be derived from propositional logic. We regard 2 + 2 = 4 as true as it is useful in counting certain classes of items. Like oranges for sharing out. But if you put 2 couples on a desert island and come back 20 years later you probably won't find exactly 4 people. Clouds also famously don't follow such simple arithmetic, but many other things don't either we are just very good at ignoring stuff that isn't classified that way when we talk about maths. Or we add sinks and sources to our models.

Compare for example non-euclidean geometry, just as 2+2=4 is obviously true, it is obviously true parallel lines never meet except well in some geometries they do. Just those geometries weren't useful in ancient Greece, didn't correspond to their intuition.

Thus I'd argue arithmetic, and logic, are things we know via induction. They have worked many times before, and we've built theories (logics) that explain the many ideas that work together, much as science builds inductive knowledge about experiments. Of course this approach blows away a lot of metaphysics as superfluous fluff that most scientists always thought it was in the first place.

We also have different logics, so the idea that "reason" somehow reflects some ideal way of knowing is already known to be probably false.

It is induction all the way down.
 

Offline coberst

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Where does reason come from?
« Reply #4 on: 03/08/2009 12:37:21 »

It appears that our ability to reason is a combination of conceptualization plus if-then inferences. I suspect both capabilities are part of the evolution of consciousness in creatures going back long before humans had evolved.

The symbolic logic you speak of is facilitated by preconceptual structures such as the container schema. We can see this in Venn diagrams.
 

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Where does reason come from?
« Reply #4 on: 03/08/2009 12:37:21 »

 

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