Monday, August 6, 2007

The Argument Against Naturalism v1.1

Is it likely, given naturalistic evolution, that our cognitive faculties (minds, brains, or whatever else might be involved) are reliable in that they produce true beliefs? In order to present the argument properly, or at least as best I can, I will broadly define the main ideas in question.

First, evolutionary theory maintains that all forms of life , including we humans, have developed from simple single-celled organisms by the processes of natural selection, genetic drift working on genetic variation, and, most popularly, random genetic mutation. Second, naturalism states that there are no supernatural beings, there is no God to direct the evolutionary process in any way.

So what is the probability (P) that our cognitive faculties are reliable (R) given the conjunction of naturalism (N) and evolutionary theory (E)? Stated as an equation it's P(R/N&E).

In the previous post I mentioned that Darwin himself had doubts that this probability was very high. It may be more accurate to say he was worried the probability was very low.

Why would Darwin harbor such doubt? Patricia Churchland explains:

“Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F’s: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” (Churchland's emphasis)


In the previous post cyberkitten objected, saying that we can test our cognitive faculties (CF) to determine if are indeed producing true beliefs. My reply was that relying on the deliverances of our CF in order to verify our CF is pragmatically circular. Either way it's beside the point. If Timmy wants to prove that Santa Claus brought him an X-Box for Christmas, by verifying that it indeed is in his room he hasn't shown us anything relevant to our question: did Santa bring it?

This conversation is not about our CF per se, but rather, if what we know about naturalistic evolution is accurate, does that knowledge give us any reason to trust our CF as the output of that process?

Simply put, is P(R/N&E) high, low, or inscrutable?

24 comments:

CyberKitten said...

laughing boy said: if what we know about naturalistic evolution is accurate, does that knowledge give us any reason to trust our CF as the output of that process?

Why not?

I fail to understand why you think natural processes in general or evolution in particular cannot produce reliable congitive function (or as I like to call it - thinking). If our thinking was *so* out of whack as to make it terminally unreliable I doubt very much if our species would have survived this long.

What exactly are you trying to get at? That we cannot, by our very nature, reliably arrive at truthful propositions about the Universe? Because that idea is obviously and demonstrably wrong - as I have (well at least attempted to) explained previously.

What 'truth' do you think we humans have a problem with - and what on Earth has evolution got to do with it? Why would the fact that our brains are products of evolution have any impact on the question of the reliability of our thought processes?

Oh, and what exactly do you mean by a 'true belief'?

Alan said...

--New Guy Alert--

Laughing Boy... It's funny. I tried blogging on this subject last week and for some reason found it just as hard to get the gist of the argument across. Thank you for making me feel better about it. :)

CyberKitten... I think that LB's point is more about the connection between "truth/reality" and our reasoning than about the existence of truth, or our capacity to remember, or our capacity to think, etc...

If naturalistic evolution (NE) is not concerned with truth/reality, then what makes us think that it would promote that connection in our reasoning? NE is concerned with survival of the fittest, with "fittest" not necessarily defined as "well-reasoning". "Fittest" is pretty much defined as those that survive.

NE has no capacity for reasoning thus no mode of instilling it. It is arational.

The consequence is that the line of causes for rationality is broken, thus we have no confidence in our rationality if that is the case. Since we can not trust our rationale in this model (naturalism), then we can't even trust the tests that you propose, for they are founded upon the very rationale that is untrustworthy. It is the hopeless skepticism of Hume.

In effect, naturalism has given us proofs that there are no trustworthy proofs, making it an internally inconsistent philosophy.

Professor Haldane, in "Possible Worlds", got close to the heart of the discussion...

If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.

CS Lewis spent a great deal of font on the subject in "Miracles".

Anyway... Thanks Laughing Boy for the post, and thanks CyberKitten for the "consequent argument". :)

Take care...

CyberKitten said...

Hi Alan....

Is the alternative to 'Naturalistic Evolution' Supernaturalistic Evolution? [grin]. Just wanted to clear that up....

Firstly... If our capacity to follow a chain of reasoning is so faulty... how did you arrive at that conclusion... through a line of reasoning by any chance?

Secondly... If our understanding of how things work is inherently faulty... then why do things work? Why do anti-biotics work? Why does the internal combustion engine work? How is it that we can launch probes to other planets? How are we communicating with each other (or not as the case may be)?

Simply because we have a good grasp of the underlying Science concerned with all of the above. We *know* how these thing work and can, therefore, make things that work. How can that be the result of faulty reasoning?

Alan said: In effect, naturalism has given us proofs that there are no trustworthy proofs, making it an internally inconsistent philosophy.

Except that we *have* trustworthy proofs - that work in the real world!

theologix said...

Alan here... Profile change.

Is the alternative to 'Naturalistic Evolution' Supernaturalistic Evolution? [grin]. Just wanted to clear that up....

As opposed to theistic evolution.

Firstly... If our capacity to follow a chain of reasoning is so faulty... how did you arrive at that conclusion... through a line of reasoning by any chance?

Yes. I have not denied that we have rationality at our disposal. The question is the implication of this fact on naturalism.

Secondly... If our understanding of how things work is inherently faulty... then why do things work? Why do anti-biotics work? Why does the internal combustion engine work? How is it that we can launch probes to other planets? How are we communicating with each other (or not as the case may be)?

If rationality is in question, then so is the fact of whether antibiotics work, etc...

Again, if the thoughts in our heads are nothing more than the firings of electrical charges, produced ultimately by chance, then what trust do we have in the results that they are producing?

That's the general argument, anyway...

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: As opposed to theistic evolution.

You mean Creationism/Intelligent Design... etc....? Gotcha.

theologix said: I have not denied that we have rationality at our disposal. The question is the implication of this fact on naturalism.

What 'implication' exactly? Why do you seem to have a problem with natural explanations of natural phenomena?

theologix said: If rationality is in question, then so is the fact of whether antibiotics work, etc...

Well... antibiotics seem to work... at least until the bacteria develop resistence through evolution by natural selection.... Are you saying that anti-biotics don't *actually* kill bacteria?

theologix said: if the thoughts in our heads are nothing more than the firings of electrical charges, produced ultimately by chance, then what trust do we have in the results that they are producing?

I'm not sure if anyone knows exactly how the mind works... though I suspect that it is unlikely to be produced by chance events in the brain.

As I keep repeating - we can have confidence in our thought processes because of their application in real life situations that work... repeatedly and predictably. We have enough understanding of the underlying science to build things that work. If our reasoning was faulty then they wouldn't work as advertised or predicted. We have countless examples of artifacts that reflect our reasonably good understanding of reality...

Or are you hinting at the old idea that we have no reliable way of knowing if anything is actually 'real' & we're not just brains in jars or bits of software in a simulation or something?

I still don't understand what you & laughing boy are getting at... Though you do both seem to have the same strange issues with evolution and naturalism.

theologix said...

You mean Creationism/Intelligent Design... etc....? Gotcha.


No. I mean theistic evolution, which is very different from creationism/Intelligent Design.

What 'implication' exactly? Why do you seem to have a problem with natural explanations of natural phenomena?

You are begging the question that rationality is a natural phenomena.

Well... antibiotics seem to work... at least until the bacteria develop resistence through evolution by natural selection.... Are you saying that anti-biotics don't *actually* kill bacteria?

They seem to work, based on our use of logic and reason, which is being questioned in this discussion. Thus, the question is still begged.

I'm not sure if anyone knows exactly how the mind works... though I suspect that it is unlikely to be produced by chance events in the brain.

If mindless, unplanning, chance-driven nature is all that your worldview allows, then I welcome an alternative to what could ultimately produce more than mindless, unplanning, chance-driven firings in the brain.

As I keep repeating - we can have confidence in our thought processes because of their application in real life situations that work... repeatedly and predictably. We have enough understanding of the underlying science to build things that work. If our reasoning was faulty then they wouldn't work as advertised or predicted. We have countless examples of artifacts that reflect our reasonably good understanding of reality...

Which is arrived at through various degrees of reasoning and intellect, which is in question at the moment.

Or are you hinting at the old idea that we have no reliable way of knowing if anything is actually 'real' & we're not just brains in jars or bits of software in a simulation or something?

Or a lower primate that, for whatever reason, natural selection has promoted to imagine that it was a higher primate with vast intellect and technology. Or a higher primate with incredibly flawed reasoning skills that thinks that combustion engines work because of well-timed sparks in a chamber with flammable fuel, when it actually works for completely different reasons. But yes... Similar concepts.

I still don't understand what you & laughing boy are getting at... Though you do both seem to have the same strange issues with evolution and naturalism.

That's cool. You're not the first, and we do both seem to share a common worldview. I don't find that strange at all. Though, from our perspective, we may find it strange that you have such blind trust that a mindless, arational, chance-driven force could impart that which it doesn't have. :)

I guess it goes back to worldviews, presuppositions and what one is willing to believe.

Take care. I truly enjoy your perspective and discussion.

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: No. I mean theistic evolution, which is very different from creationism/Intelligent Design.

Oh? Then I've never heard of theistic evolution. What is it exactly?

theologix said: You are begging the question that rationality is a natural phenomena.

Nope. Rationality is a way of looking at things. A human cultural construct. It is only a natural phenomena in the sense that we (being natural phenomena ourselves) came up with the idea.

theologix said: They seem to work, based on our use of logic and reason, which is being questioned in this discussion.

Actually they 'seem' to work when you have such bacteria in a dish... throw in some anti-biotics and they all (or at least most of them) usually die. Logic, reason or personal world views have little to do with it. No matter what you believe the suckers are still dead. If there is something else 'going on' its incredible that its always associated with the application of anti-biotics. What other process are you proposing to explain the death of the bacteria?

theologix said: If mindless, unplanning, chance-driven nature is all that your worldview allows, then I welcome an alternative to what could ultimately produce more than mindless, unplanning, chance-driven firings in the brain.

It's called Natural Selection. It's the 'selection' part that weeds out less than useful attributes that chance throws into the mix. Do you honestly think that "unplanning, chance-driven firings in the brain" could lead to any kind of functionality at all? If a human (or any creature) was born with such a brain how long exactly would you expect it to last in the wild....? I'd bet on a few days at the very outside.

theologix said: Which is arrived at through various degrees of reasoning and intellect, which is in question at the moment.

Yes. But as I say *again* this reasoning is *tested* against the Real World. If our reasoning was radically at fault then things just wouldn't work. The fact that they *do* work strongly indicates that our reasoning about the Universe is *not* at fault. How do YOU explain that things work as we expect them to do?

theologix said: Or a lower primate that, for whatever reason, natural selection has promoted to imagine that it was a higher primate with vast intellect and technology.

[Looks confused]. So... you're saying that everything around us is just imagined? That none of it is real?

theologix said: Or a higher primate with incredibly flawed reasoning skills that thinks that combustion engines work because of well-timed sparks in a chamber with flammable fuel, when it actually works for completely different reasons.

And these 'completely different' reasons are what exactly?

theologix said: Though, from our perspective, we may find it strange that you have such blind trust that a mindless, arational, chance-driven force could impart that which it doesn't have.

Actually, your assumption that I blindly trust anything is way off the mark. I 'believe' in Darwininan Evolution because it makes a great deal of sense and explains much that we see in the natural world.

theologix said: I guess it goes back to worldviews, presuppositions and what one is willing to believe.

How true.... How *very* true. [grin].

theologix said...

In an effort to escape the tedium, I'll forego another point-by-point. I will speak to a couple of points and leave the discussion where it lies until further, more productive, development.

[Looks confused]. So... you're saying that everything around us is just imagined? That none of it is real?

Not at all. I'm saying that naturalism (natural selection included) has no inherent guard against that outcome, thus that outcome is within the possible reality of naturalistic philosophy. If it is a possibility then there are no proofs available to naturalism.

And these 'completely different' reasons are what exactly?

It doesn't matter, since under this possibility we would never be able to know them. Naturalism was incapable of /disinterested in producing in us the capacity to know what those reasons actually were.

Yes. But as I say *again* this reasoning is *tested* against the Real World. If our reasoning was radically at fault then things just wouldn't work. The fact that they *do* work strongly indicates that our reasoning about the Universe is *not* at fault.

See previous answer....

How do YOU explain that things work as we expect them to do?

I explain it because we are rational creatures. That rationality was given by a supremely Rational Being that was capable of instilling that rationality. Our rationality is the effect of a sufficient cause.

Actually, your assumption that I blindly trust anything is way off the mark.

I sincerely apologize for the poor choice of words.

I 'believe' in Darwininan Evolution because it makes a great deal of sense and explains much that we see in the natural world.

Yes. I understand that. Neither reason makes it true. The trick is to weigh everything and find what is most internally consistent.

Take care. :)

theologix said...

For clarification, "further, more productive development" is a reference to my inability to get the point across in a better manner. Please don't misinterpret that as a negatice toward cyberkitten.

Thanks. :)

Laughing Boy said...

Welcome to the fray Alan/theologix.

Question for cyberkitten: Are true beliefs affected by N&E? If so, how? What mechanism in N&E insures the development of true beliefs? I don't know of any. True beliefs are beliefs that are true (not in a relativistic sense but in a objective sense).

Evolution works on adaptive behavior. Period. As Churchland says, beliefs are considered "hindmost" if at all.

There are four, and only four, mutually exclusive possibilities regarding the connection between behavior and beliefs.

1. Behavior is not caused by beliefs.

2. Beliefs have an effect on behavior but not due to the content of the belief, but rather the associated neural activity. My believing one way simply throws the right physical switches to stimulate the appropriate behavior. In the language of the academy, beliefs are syntactically, but not semantically efficacious.

3. Beliefs are causally connected to behavior but they are maladaptive, therefore detrimental to survival.

4. Beliefs and behavior are causally connected and adaptive.

For each of these possibilities, what is the likelihood of P(R/N&E)?

#1. For all intents and purposes it's nil.

#2. Exceedingly low. It's important to note that this scenario is very popular currently.

#3. Exceedingly low. This possiblity is only provided to cover all the bases.

If #1, #2, or #3 accurately explain the connection between belief and behavior, we have absolutely no grounds for trusting that N&E has produced rationality.

That leaves us with...

#4. This is the common sense view, but is the P(R/N&E) very high even under these terms? Maybe not. Why? Quoting Plantinga, "For any given adaptive action, there will be many belief-desire combinations that could produce that action; and very many of those belief-desire combinations will be such that the belief involved is false." Plantinga provides examples with Paul, the pre-historic hominid as his subject.

Paul sees tiger. The adaptive action is to flee. (Actually, if you flee from a tiger you're probably dinner, but that's another topic.)

i. The rational belief for Paul is that the tiger is a threat from which he'd better retreat, so he does. Chalk one up for linked rational belief and survival-enhancing behavior (and for N&E, but it does not count against either theistic evolution or creationism as far as I can tell).

ii. Paul sees the tiger and happesn to like being eaten, and decides the best way to be eaten is to run away. His belief and behavior are fully linked and his behavior enhnances survival but his belief is not rational.

iii. Paul wants to pet the tiger and thinks the best way to get to pet the tiger is to go in the opposite direction (which works with some domestic cats). Once again, an adaptive survival enhnancing behavior is based on and irrational belief-desire combination.

iv. Paul believes tigers are illusory, but as he is worried about his weight, he has determined to run for 30 minutes each time the illusion appears to him.

We could provide many other logically possible scenarios.

I'll add more later unless Alan can pick it up from here.

theologix said...

Not much to add. I think you nailed it, and I look forward to seeing the discussion develop from here.

cyberkitty, I apologize that I couldn't explain it with such clarity.

Blessings...

Laughing Boy said...

It might be helpful to imagine we are not talking about ourselves, i.e. the humans who have developed here on earth, but a similar species that developed in another part of the galaxy. This way we don't muddy the waters with our own experience, we just look at various possibilities and their probabilities.

If we, as unquestionably rational outside observers, had to determine P(R/N&E) for them, what would we conclude?

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: cyberkitty, I apologize that I couldn't explain it with such clarity.

Actually I already think that we're from different parts of the Galaxy - or at least different realities.

What you call clarity bemuses me beyond the telling of it. I have no idea what you two are talking about - indeed I have been struggling with this conversation from minute one.

laughing boy - By 'true belief' do you mean fact? That might make a start in me trying to understand you both. Or do you mean holding a belief that is objectively true? If a belief is objectively true doesn't it cease to be a belief?

I still fail to see what Naturalism or Evolution has to do with beliefs. I could quite easily believe that the Moon is made out of cheese or is an actual Goddess (and many other things besides). This alone will have no effect on my own biological fitness.

laughing boy asked: What mechanism in N&E insures the development of true beliefs?

Nothing. People have believed many things throughout recorded History - most of which turned out to be wrong. Strangely we as a species managed not only to survive but to flourish. It doesn't appear on the face of it that 'wrong belief' has any detrimental effect on reproductive effectiveness or survival.

theologix said...

cyberkitten:

Actually I already think that we're from different parts of the Galaxy - or at least different realities.

What you call clarity bemuses me beyond the telling of it. I have no idea what you two are talking about - indeed I have been struggling with this conversation from minute one.


You must understand that it is clear to me because I've actually spent some time in study of the philosophy involved, and more time seeking to grasp it. I've taken in many sources to first, grasp it and secondly, weight its merit for myself.

You have not had this benefit, thus are as confused as I was. Note that this doesn't mean that the argument is right, or that I am better-tooled, just that I had a head-start on you in this subject.

If we do end up being from different parts of the galaxy, I hope you won't hold it against me [grin].

laughing boy - By 'true belief' do you mean fact? That might make a start in me trying to understand you both. Or do you mean holding a belief that is objectively true? If a belief is objectively true doesn't it cease to be a belief?

This will in no way clarify, I'm sure, but... It is actually about the separation between our beliefs (thoughts) and truth/facts. Our thoughts are "about" things, they are not the things. Part of the insufficiency of NE is that "aboutness". (Sorry to answer a question posed to LB.)

I still fail to see what Naturalism or Evolution has to do with beliefs. I could quite easily believe that the Moon is made out of cheese or is an actual Goddess (and many other things besides). This alone will have no effect on my own biological fitness.

EXACTLY!!! This is thrilling, and it is exactly what this has to do with naturalistic evolution, since lack of correspondence between your beliefs and biological fitness is the very thing that makes naturalistic evolution/natural selection unable to select on rational fitness. This is what breaks the link of confidence in rationality within the naturalistic model.

Nothing. People have believed many things throughout recorded History - most of which turned out to be wrong. Strangely we as a species managed not only to survive but to flourish. It doesn't appear on the face of it that 'wrong belief' has any detrimental effect on reproductive effectiveness or survival.

Right again. So, how can we have confidence that natural selection could have instilled rationality if rationality has no correspondence to what natural selection keys on for promotion? It could have just as well promoted based on luck, environment, sexual preference, lack of predators, etc... Rationality is not really part of the criteria, so within that model, rationality is not guaranteed to be passed along-- well-formed rationality anyway...

Laughing Boy:

It might be helpful to imagine we are not talking about ourselves, i.e. the humans who have developed here on earth, but a similar species that developed in another part of the galaxy. This way we don't muddy the waters with our own experience, we just look at various possibilities and their probabilities.

Good idea. I look forward to your analagy. I'll put it into a familiar naturalist's context, but outside of our own...

Imagine our ancestors at a level similar to that of an amoeba. It can react to its environment, but not form rational thought. For instance, it can respond to light, but not "know" light. It can absorb nutrients, but not "know" of digestion.

Just say that mindless, arational natural selection promotes a change in that creature that would make rationality impossible from that point forward (for whatever reason, just for the sake of the argument).

Evolving with a lack of well-formed rationality, this line would never know or use rationality, even if it somehow thought that it used rationality. If it had some form of incorrect rationale (some flawed "aboutness" to its thoughts), it would continue through life believing that aboutness correct.

Due to this break-down in the capabilities of the naturalistic mechanisms, we can therefore have no confidence that this indeed is not what happened. Thus the end result of naturalism is that it offers logical proofs that we can't have confidence in our use of logic. This is an internal inconsistency, and is self-refuting.

At the very least, I hope that this didn't muddy the waters further. I'm looking forward to both your responses and LB's continuation of his thoughts.

Take care...

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: EXACTLY!!! This is thrilling, and it is exactly what this has to do with naturalistic evolution, since lack of correspondence between your beliefs and biological fitness is the very thing that makes naturalistic evolution/natural selection unable to select on rational fitness.

Oh, I wouldn't get *too* excited. [grin]. I might agree that evolution has nothing to say on the subject of Rationalism but it also has nothing to say on much else besides - such as Economics, Politcs, Philosophy, Poetry, Language etc.... These are human cultural constructs.

Rationalism is a way of thinking but so is Romanticism. There are probably many different ways of thinking about things. This being so does not invalidate other ways of thinking nor does it invalidate either Evolution or Naturalism. You appear to be making the mistake of taking what you see as a failing in Evolutionary Theory and using it to LEAP to a hugely wrong conclusion. Evolution does not (and was never intended to) explain everything about everything. It does not explain Mozart and it does not explain Pol Pot.

Rather than agreeing with you I actually think that you are fundamentally wrong.

theologix said...

Oh, I wouldn't get *too* excited. [grin]. I might agree that evolution has nothing to say on the subject of Rationalism but it also has nothing to say on much else besides - such as Economics, Politcs, Philosophy, Poetry, Language etc.... These are human cultural constructs.

...which are all a product of rationality.

Rationalism is a way of thinking but so is Romanticism. There are probably many different ways of thinking about things. This being so does not invalidate other ways of thinking nor does it invalidate either Evolution or Naturalism.

The Law of Noncontradiction says differently.


You appear to be making the mistake of taking what you see as a failing in Evolutionary Theory and using it to LEAP to a hugely wrong conclusion. Evolution does not (and was never intended to) explain everything about everything. It does not explain Mozart and it does not explain Pol Pot.


And it does not provide confidence in our rationality. And it is no leap to naturalism from there, since naturalism denies anything that can provide confidence in rationality.

Rather than agreeing with you I actually think that you are fundamentally wrong.

Which is no surprise. I'm used to being disappointed in such discussions. [grin] The bright spot for me is that if you are correct, I can't really trust what you think when you think that I am wrong. [another grin]

Thanks. I hope you have a great day/night, as the case may be. :)

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: And it does not provide confidence in our rationality. And it is no leap to naturalism from there, since naturalism denies anything that can provide confidence in rationality.

...and you've just lost me again.

theologix said: I'm used to being disappointed in such discussions.

Me too... though I'm not usually this bemused.

theologix said: The bright spot for me is that if you are correct, I can't really trust what you think when you think that I am wrong.

That's a very impressive piece of philosophical ju-jitsu. If I'm right that means I'm wrong. Brilliant!

theologix said: Thanks. I hope you have a great day/night, as the case may be.

Thanks. I'd noticed that you have visited my place but forgot to welcome you. Feel free to visit at any time - though I predict you won't like much of what you find there.....

theologix said...

...and you've just lost me again.

I apologize. Naturalism doesn't offer any other solution to the problem, so the failure of evolution/natural selection is the failure of naturalism in this area.

Me too... though I'm not usually this bemused.

Again, I apologize. That is not my intent. Though I do have every faith that Laughing Boy can do a much better job than I on this subject. It's becoming obvious that my greatest offering to the discussion will be to let someone else have it. :)

That's a very impressive piece of philosophical ju-jitsu. If I'm right that means I'm wrong. Brilliant!


Thanks! I take my black belt test Monday. [grin]

I'm glad you caught that. It is the philosophical dilimma of an internal inconsistency (or self-refuting claim, depending on how you want to phrase it), which is the main point that Lewis, in his writings on the subject, seeks to make.

Naturalism can never claim to be right, because if it is right it can't support the claim that it is right. Said another way, it offers logical proofs that prove that we can't trust logical proofs. Thus, if it is right, it can't be trusted that it is right.

It's kind of like the old Justice League cartoon episode where Superman beat the evil computer with self-refuting logic. He told it, "Everything I say is a lie." The computer could not process, because if what Superman said was true, he was lieing when he said it, which would make it untrue...

So, it's really not that impresive jujutsu. It's actually covered in the kiddy-belts. :)

Thanks. I'd noticed that you have visited my place but forgot to welcome you. Feel free to visit at any time - though I predict you won't like much of what you find there.....

To the contrary, I love these discussions, and actually enjoy input from all sides. I found your site a distinct pleasure and look forward to visiting it frequently. I also invite you to both of mine and would love your input on whatever musings may be rolling out there.

Take care... :)

Laughing Boy, I'm beginning to feel as though I've somewhat stepped on your line of thought here and elbowed my way into a conversation you were shining in. I apologize if that's the case.

I look very forward to what you are making this blog into. I especially liked your responses to Ex-Christian's auto-analagies. You have a gift and talent, to be sure.

Laughing Boy said...

cyberkitten : I might agree that evolution has nothing to say on the subject of Rationalism but it also has nothing to say on much else besides - such as Economics, Politcs, Philosophy, Poetry, Language etc.... These are human cultural constructs. Rationalism is a way of thinking but so is Romanticism.

We're talking about rationality, not Rationalism. Rationalism, a school of philosophical thought, is a human construct. Rationality is not.

CyberKitten said...

laughing boy said: We're talking about rationality, not Rationalism. Rationalism, a school of philosophical thought, is a human construct. Rationality is not.

Definition of rationality: Related to or based on reason or logic.

I thought that the Ancient Greeks came up with the idea of using reason & logic (AKA rationality) to discover more about the world. Both Reason & Logic which they invented - or at least have been credited with inventing.... More human constructs by the looks of things.

Where do you think rationality came from?

theologix said...

Both Reason & Logic which they invented - or at least have been credited with inventing.... More human constructs by the looks of things.

Did Columbus invent North America? Did Pythagoras invent the Pythagorean Formula? If so, would it work differently if he had invented it to work differently?

I'm not sure how the Greeks could have invented a correspondence to reality.

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: I'm not sure how the Greeks could have invented a correspondence to reality.

Reason and logic are ways of thinking. Just like superstition, religion and the Scientific method - they are all 'correspondences to reality'. They were not found somewhere they were constructed by people as ways of seeing and understanding the world. Just because we invented them doesn't mean they are of any less worth.

theologix said...

Yes, logic and reason are a discipline. My point is that the Greeks did not invent the underlying principles. They did not invent the fact that if A=B and B=C, then A=C.

Rationality is our ability to recognize, adhere to, even discover this.

Logic is rooted in first principles-- self-evident truths. If our rationality is the result of mindless, arational processes, then we don't even have confidence in our ability to correctly recognize the first principles.

Am I to gather that your argument is: We (humanity, i.e. the Greeks) invented logic and reason, therefore we can trust rationality?

CyberKitten said...

theologix said: If our rationality is the result of mindless, arational processes, then we don't even have confidence in our ability to correctly recognize the first principles.

So you keep saying & so I keep disagreeing with you. Evolutionary processes produced our brains and as a by-product produced our minds - but the 'mindless' process of evolution does not mean that the thoughts & ideas produced by our minds are in someway 'questionable' just because of the way they were built. That's the heart of the problem I have with your assertions. Just because we have arrived here by natural processes doesn't mean that the end product is inferior or faulty.

theologix said: Am I to gather that your argument is: We (humanity, i.e. the Greeks) invented logic and reason, therefore we can trust rationality?

Not at all. We can trust rationality because it gets results. Because of reason, logic and science we have learnt much about the Universe and have used that knowledge to build our technological society. The use of reason allows us to progessively understand more and more about the real world (or as much as we can anyway) and gives us the opportunity to progress - unlike past societys who relied on other ways of seeing the world. That is why we can trust our reason - not just because it's a very human invention.