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Thread: Where does reason come from?

  1. #1 Where does reason come from? 
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    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


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    predominantly the frontal cortex is responsible for reasoning. Reasoning, quite simply, is the ability to catagorize information.


    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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  4. #3  
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    Yes, such categories as eat/not eat and friend/foe.
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  5. #4  
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    It's slightly more complicated than that.

    The frontal cortex does a lot of things, look it up on wiki if you need.

    One of the things it does is calculating rewards, and since the same food might not always be good to eat, and the same person might not always be friend or foe, there is more to reason than such catagories. The only universal catagories are "beneficial" and "harmful" but what falls into each catagory, is culturaly relative.
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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  6. #5  
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    What is a Basic-Level Category?

    Consider the category hierarchies: {furniture--chair—rocker} and {vehicle--car—sedan}. The middle categories--chair and car--have been discovered to be “basic”—they have a cognitive priority. “Basic-level categories are distinguished from subordinate categories by aspects of our bodies, brains, and minds: mental images, gestalt perception, motor programs, and knowledge structure.”

    The basic level is characterized by at least four conditions: 1) It is the highest level at which a single mental image can represent the entire category (you can’t get a mental image of vehicle or furniture). 2) It is the highest level at which category members have a similarly perceived overall shape. 3) It is the highest level at which a person uses similar motor actions for interacting with category members. 4) It is the level at which most of our knowledge is organized.

    The division between basic and non-basic level is body-based. It is based upon gestalt (overall part-whole structure) perception, motor programs, and mental images. The basic-level is that level at which people more optimally interact with their environment.

    The basic-level does not merely apply to objects. “There are basic-level actions, actions for which we have conventional mental images and motor programs, like swimming, walking, and grasping. We also have basic-level concepts, like families, clubs, and baseball teams, as well as basic-level social actions, like arguing. And there are basic-level emotions, like happiness, anger, and sadness.”

    “Our categories arise from the fact that we are neural beings, from the nature of our bodily capacities, from our experience interacting in the world, and from our evolved capacity for basic-level categorization—a level at which we optimally interact with the world. Evolution has not required us to be as accurate above and below the basic level as at the basic level, and so we are not.”

    We have a gut feeling about some things because our sense of correctness comes from our bodies. When Newton provided us with his theory of physics we could “feel” the correctness of much of it because he was using such concepts as acceleration, momentum, distance and velocity all of which we knew because we could intuit them, we could “feel in our gut” these concepts. Such was not the case when the physicist attacked the problem of quantum physics. Who has a gut feeling for the inner workings of the atom?

    Our “gut feeling” constantly informs us as to the ‘correctness’ of some phenomenon. This gut feeling is an attitude; it is one of many types of attitudes. What can we say about this gut feeling?

    Quotes from Philosophy in The Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson says a great deal about this gut feeling. Conceptual metaphor theory, the underlying theory of cognitive science contained in this book, explains how our knowledge is ‘grounded’ in a manner in which we optimally interact with the world.

    Our basic-level categories are created unconsciously based upon our bodily interaction with our world.
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