You've made some provocative posts recently that have given me a lot to think about, especially the exchange you had with each other, as well as posts that Gee made earlier about IQ, and that cladking made on another thread today about intelligence not existing. It has helped make very visible to me where our thinking diverges. I'd like to attend to this divergence and see what happens, but that might mean delaying talk about "truth" for right now.
I'm going to lay a few cards on the table:
- There is nothing special about humans. We are evolved animals. We are part of nature, not an exception to it.
- There is nothing special about the human brain. It is an evolved organ. It is natural, not supernatural.
1. Evolution is Bananas
What color is a banana? Yellow? Well, we certainly experience it as yellow. Subjectively, it is yellow. But objectively, we know that the banana is not yellow. The philosophers in us might want to get sidetracked here and spin this conversation in a new direction, but let's not do that yet. There's another interesting point here. What color is a banana in the sunlight? When it's cloudy? In the moonlight? Again, subjectively it's yellow and objectively it's not yellow. But it's also objectively different in sunlight than it is in the moonlight, even though subjectively it's the same. Our subjective experience of it being yellow is arbitrary, yes, but it's also the function of an evolutionary adaptation whereby our eyes and visual cortex compensate for different objective conditions to produce the same subjective condition of yellow.
Now what color is a banana in a parking lot at night? Objectively again it's different, but this time it is also subjectively different. It is no longer yellow. The sodium-vapor lights that make parking lots look so weird at night are "unnatural," which is very loaded way of saying that they are evolutionarily novel. They represent environmental conditions that did not exist when the systems of perceiving color evolved. All of this is to say, that our "innate knowledge," "wisdom," "non-linguistic closeness," "whole knowledge" of yellowness (to use your terms) is inextricably tied to our ancestral environment.
2. Why Birds Don't Do Philsophy
That birds "don't know HOW they know" is key. Let's allow ourselves for now to describe their nest-building ability as knowledge. What kind of knowledge is it? I'm not sure why instinct is in scare quotes because it seems perfectly reasonable to call it instinctual knowledge. But what does that mean? We could say it's a knowledge that's evolved and innate, rather than formally learned. We could also say, very importantly, that it is knowledge which is extremely domain-specific. The knowledge to "weave twigs, branches and bits of plastic bottles" comes into play to build nests, but only to build nests. None of that knowledge transfers over for any other purpose, although the ability could certainly be put to lots of other advantageous uses. The bird "doesn't know how it knows" to build nests, and "not knowing how it knows" it doesn't know how to do anything else. This, and exactly this, is how I understand what Gee means when he talks about "analog knowledge."cladking wrote:The bird doesn't know how it knows to build a nest but it can see the nest from four dimensions and "instinct" guides its ability to weave twigs, branches, and bits of plastic bottles.
3. Socrates was a Digital Intelligence
cladking wrote:It's all this knowledge we use to deal with and function in the world. It is knowledge which is remote from the object of the knowledge and is learned rather than instinctive.
I'm very indebted to you for introducing me to the analog digital metaphor. Let's get to work.Gee wrote:In order for the analog (sub/unconscious) knowledge, which is fuller and more whole, to be known in the rational aspect of mind, the information has to be digitized.
We have tons of subconscious, instinctive, analog knowledge. This analog knowledge is the result of evolved psychological adaptations that are domain-specific. I want to suggest that it is the domain-specificity itself that makes it seem "fuller and more whole," the knowledge is welded to its function, it is not free-floating. We "don't know how we know" analog knowledge.
For example, we have evolved a psychological mechanism wherein our perception of being excluded from a social group triggers activity in the same region of our brain that activates when we feel physical pain. It hurts to be excluded. There is a sort of evolutionary wisdom here, as surely it was advantageous to our survival to be part of a group. But there is equally blind instinct here, a drive to herd mentality even where it is not advantageous.
If the "not traceable, not really confirmable" "don't know how we know" information is analogue, then what is digitial? I want to suggest that the emphasis on language as the source is, I think, misplaced. Language is a tool, an extremely powerful tool, an enabler. But the source is intelligence, or more specifically, general intelligence. General intelligence corresponds, I think, with what you mean by the ability to digitze. General intelligence is an evolved adaptation for dealing with the domain of evolutionarily-novel, non-recurring problems. It is the ability to reason deductively, inductively, think abstractly or from "infinite perspective," synthesize information and apply it to new domains. It is the ability to digitize what we know, but don't know how we know, in order to then put that domain-specific knowledge to work in new contexts where no pre-existing psychological mechanisms exist.Gee wrote:But we also get information internally from emotion, awareness, and the self, but this is not traceable, and not really confirmable. This is the information that is often attributed to spirituality, the paranormal, or "God" and is most often confirmed through religion -- it is subjective information.
Think of walking across a busy street as a sort of analogue mathematics. There's a lot of complexity going on there, but it's easy "common-sense." All of the calculations just kind of do themselves in a way. We don't know how we know how to do analogue math. On the one hand, that might make it seem more "whole," more "present," and more like something of the "Self" or even supernatural. But on the other hand, it also means that it's not available out of context. We can't do analytical mathematics the way we walk across a street. That ability to transfer knowledge across domains requires "digitization" and "infinite persepctive," also known as general intelligence or rationality.
I know you have both objected to the notion of intelligence, but what's fascinating to me is how close this all seems to fit with what you are both saying. Let's be clear that intelligence does not mean "smart." It means something like an evolved adaptation to deal with the evolutionarily novel. (Usually this comes at the expense of "common-sense" due to the tendency to over-analyze what Gee might call "wisdom.") Anyway, the evidence supporting general intelligence is overwhelming. General intelligence is measurable, and these measures correlate very highly across all kinds of socio-graphic data at statistical levels indicating the chance of coincidental relation to be between 1:100,000 all the way up to 1:4,000,000,000. Those are incredibly significant data effects for something that doesn't exist.
Here are some of the strong correlations for general intelligence taken from General Social Surveys (GSS), National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health), and National Child Development Study (NCDS):
- political ideology (positively correlates with being more liberal, negatively correlates with conservatism (aren't conservatives common-sense?))
- negatively correlates with religiosity (not at all surprising considering what we just talked about)
- positively correlates with the value of sexual exclusivity in men (seems like evolutionary suicide)
- positively correlates with later time to go to bed (again, not very in keeping with ancestral environment)
- positively correlates with expressions of homsexual attraction (again, evolutionarily novel)
- positively correlates with vegetariansim (not too much common-sense there!)
- negatively correlates with number of children (evolutionarily stupid to not reproduce)
- no meaningful correlation at all with navigation skills (analogue working jsut fine thank you very much)