Sunday, November 7, 2010

284: A final conclusion

Like every organism on these planet the homo sapiens is a result of evolution. We may be inclined to think only of his physical appearance, but of course the brain is not exempt from this evolution.

The central nervous system has been the tool in evolution that made us survive in changing environments. Through the millennia it developed two strategies: the capacity for both logical analysis and intuitive reasoning, but one is slow and ponderous while the other is fast and furious.

The idea is that the intuitive part of the mind developed earlier in evolution than the rational part. It makes sense. The brain is wired to see order and structures, so that we can interpret our experiences and decide how to act on them.

Maybe some individuals weren't satisfied with such interpretations and stared to wonder, if there could be other explanations for the phenomena. This might have been the beginning of the evolution of the rational part of the mind.

What crosses my mind here is, that in the jungles of the Amazone there still may live undiscovered tribes. They are still hunters and live in a way their prehistoric answers might have lived.

Do they live in a world, where their supersense has prevailed over the rational part of the brain. Does it indicate how the evolution of the brain is influenced by environment?

How about us? We have our intuitive thinking, to believe there are things out there, where the rational part of the mind says: you are mistaken. Yet we are inclined to believe in psychological essentialism, vitalism, holism.

We are inclined to an intuitive dualism and the idea that the mind can exist independently of the body. All of these ways of thinking are both naturally emerging and yet supernatural in their explanations of the world.

Can we ever get rid of the supersense? Will the evolution of mankind continue and make us evolve into a species that uses logic over and above emotion and intuition?

This seems unlikely and there are some reasons why. In the first place I have said from the beginning that our brain is wired to generate our rationality but also our supersense.

This inclination to hold supernatural beliefs is part of our make-up and it seemingly served us well through evolution, otherwise we wouldn't be here.

There is another reason. Our intuitive thinking makes it possible to hold certain values as sacred. It tells us that there are things we should not question. Something is sacred when members of society regard it as beyond any monetary value.

A situation: a hospital with debts. The managing director gets one million dollars. He has a choice: spend the money on an urgent transplant operation that will save the life of a child or reduce the hospital's debts, which would guarantee the future of the hospital. What would you do? Most people would say: of course …save the child.

And other questionable questionable things: would you love to posses and wear the clothes of a serial killer, or add the meat hooks to your collection of memorabilia, by which the Nazis have hung their victims.

I think that you can regard value ethics as an expression of this conviction, which we share with others in our society and which binds us.

On the other hand when our rational part of the mind would be our only (social) tool everything would be reduced to a cost-benefit analysis. It is material, analytic, scientific. Everything only would have its price.

Some people in our society tend to believe so. How much do I have to pay you for sleeping with your wife? Some of you may frown, others might feel a moral outrage.

Yet I see here a parallel with Jeremy Benthem's attempt to calculate measures of happiness. Utilitarianism as the cost-benefit analysis of moral values.

My conclusion is, that our supersense is deeply embedded in our thinking and ironically makes it possible for us to regard certain supernatural beliefs as rational. And this holds society together.

On the other hand it means that we can have access to the mechanisms of the brain that generate our supersense ideas, which may help us understand their irrationality and function in human life.

By understanding the functioning of the brain more and more we also may understand better and better how to deal with the meaning of the supernatural in human psychology and even with fundamental philosophical questions about the self, identity and consciousness.

For now, the brain and neurological findings are our next station.

The discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:26] herman Bergson: You have the floor ^_^
[13:26] Simargl Talaj: People living in hunter-gatherer subsistence mode are not more intuitive, less rational. They're rational, with different data.
[13:26] Simargl Talaj: I reject also that purely rational life would be amoral. Logic proceeds from premise, actions from objectives. If my premise/objective is harmlessness, I am rational and ethical.
[13:26] Alarice Beaumont: i would like to join your conclusion of the embedding in our thinking :-)
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Simargl your first remark is right.
[13:27] Simargl Talaj: hunter-gatherers tell us nothing about brain evolution because they are not primitive.
[13:27] herman Bergson: what I only wanted to bring to your attention is the contingency of the development of the mind
[13:27] Simargl Talaj: They tell us only about culture in relation to environment.
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: so, as rational humans we recognize that the collective as large as it has gorwn cannot hold together, so we invent a paste to secure it
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle...that seems to be the man function of our supersense
[13:29] herman Bergson: the hunter-gatherers have certainly the same evolution of the brain as we have...
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: an artificail state of affairs for a portion's benefit
[13:30] herman Bergson: but their environment didn't probably provoke rationality to survive....I dont know
[13:30] Simargl Talaj: Indeed hunter gatherer life requires more rationality than urban life.
[13:30] herman Bergson: What is interesting is that science and technology developed in Europe mainly...
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: I suspect the brainstem is fixed and our cerebral cortex only attempts to keep it in check
[13:31] herman Bergson: The chinese culture shows a lot of scientific insights long before the European ones developed...
[13:32] Simargl Talaj: as did the Arabs
[13:32] Simargl Talaj: no culture keeps the lead at all times
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: and that our cerebral evolution is self-determined
[13:32] herman Bergson: There never was a Chinese or arabic Newton or Copernicus for instance
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: there are many conflicts in this situation i think
[13:32] herman Bergson: It is not about the lead Simargl
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: perhaps perception is part of the answer
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is about the effect on global development of the species...
[13:33] Simargl Talaj: to be rational and to be learned are two different things. Science requires not only rationality but texts, precedents, giant shoulders to stand upon.
[13:33] herman Bergson: So the history of science is an interesting source of information...
[13:34] Simargl Talaj: There is no evidence of European brains having any greater rational faculty than those of desert aborigines. Science is an effect of history, not evolution.
[13:34] herman Bergson: That is not the point Simargl....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] Alarice Beaumont: hmmm
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: i think it is cultural also
[13:34] herman Bergson: What this is about is the relation between evolution of the brain and environment
[13:35] herman Bergson: the relation between environment and the development of culture
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: the math that europeans used came from the east
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...that is SOOO remarkable…
[13:35] herman Bergson: Our logic comes from india
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: yes Gemma,, isn't that fascinating?!
[13:35] herman Bergson: our math comes from arabic scientists in the 10th century
[13:36] Simargl Talaj: Herman, so are you asking "Is it possible to dispense with supersense, cuz its intuitive basis is maybe not needed now?"
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: like Algebra and such
[13:36] herman Bergson: Then you misunderstood Simargl...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: and the numbers we use are arabic symbols
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: seems the Europeans were good at reaping other culture's evolutionary progress
[13:36] herman Bergson: I said it is part and parcel of our brain /mind
[13:37] herman Bergson: Dawkins would love to discard of supersense I guess
[13:37] herman Bergson: I think that is a mistake....
[13:37] herman Bergson: It would mean to deactivate about 50% of our brain I guess
[13:38] herman Bergson: Besides as Aristotle also works as a social paste...
[13:38] herman Bergson: We NEED values to control our social behavior
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: that is not a good picture in my eyes
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: social paste
[13:38] Simargl Talaj: I reject that values can only emerge from the antirational.
[13:38] herman Bergson: social glue..Aristotle used paste
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: some of us apply oil to keep the paste from adhering
[13:39] herman Bergson: That Simargl was the idea of the utilitarians too.
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: To the conttrary I believe evil emerges chiefly from the antirational.
[13:39] herman Bergson: antirational????
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: witch hunts illustrate this
[13:39] Simargl Talaj: that which is believed in spite of and against rational examination
[13:40] Simargl Talaj: and rejects the validity of rational examination
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: there is always a benefit to someone in every atrosity
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is our definition more or less of supersense, yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: The cost-benefit analysis is what the rationality comes up with to establish values
[13:41] herman Bergson: What do we win - what do we loose...
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: how much did the church benefit from the crusades, how much are we paying for it today?
[13:42] Simargl Talaj: If you properly assess benefit and cost, this is moral. If my sense of "cost" includes your pain.
[13:42] herman Bergson: and the matter is, that we value certain things that cant be expressed in terms of money
[13:43] herman Bergson: As I said Jeremy Benthem and John Stuart Mill on this approach of ethics
[13:43] Simargl Talaj: It is irrational to assess such things in terms of money. So that failure is not a failure of the rational.
[13:44] Simargl Talaj: it is a failure to be rational.
[13:45] herman Bergson: I guess that is a rational conclusion Simargl :-)
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: aaa trye
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: not all value can be expressed in money
[13:46] herman Bergson: Well...thank you all for your particiaption.....
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: money is a very rational motive
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: Thanks, Professor
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: what is a human worth for example
[13:46] herman Bergson: We'll move on to the next stage of our quest about the brain/mind
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: a life cant be measured in money
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: yet it is
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: or at least in trade for it
[13:47] Simargl Talaj: in fact we measure our own lives in money when we decide to take a risk because avoiding it would be too expensive.
[13:47] herman Bergson: Exactly bejiita
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: money equals survival
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: money is just a way we use to put value on things
[13:48] herman Bergson: A would call that an American way of thinking with a failing healthcare system, Simargl :-)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: cause we want to have something back for doing something, ex, make a product
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL and now we have a new frontier after the election,all hell is breaking loose
[13:48] Simargl Talaj: <= outraged American, advocate of national healthcare
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes ari
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: me too simargi
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:49] herman Bergson: Ok this is of the record now...
[13:49] herman Bergson: officially class is dismissed
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥

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