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