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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ^I think his point is more that reasoning is in no way disconnected from our animal selves. There's no thought separate from the body and evolutionary processes that got our bodies to the point they are.

    He's saying that the distinction between man and animal is basically arbitrary...we just have a larger neural network and therefore can devote more resources to categorization. Also, much of our "thought" (aka categorization) takes place unconsciously and completely outside of our control, which may make people uncomfortable as it opposes the notion of choice.
    Amen brother/sister.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    It's clear that man has superior reasoning ability (a more interconnected neural net with more nodes) than other animals. I think the argument here is that it's not like the difference is a matter of a different kind of processing. It's just faster and more complex processing.

    The difference between man and other animals is like the difference between a computer from 1980 and a computer now.

    All humans and other animals do is categorize (based on some inductive method, whatever that may be). All learning is just reinforcement learning. Animals and humans do this stuff; humans just devote more energy relatively to doing it better.
    I would say that the most significant difference between the human animal and other animals is that humans can create and deal with abstract concepts. As a result of these concepts we become meaning creating creatures. The abstract concepts that we create become the ideas for which we live, die, and kill.

  3. #13
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    I would say that the most significant difference between the human animal and other animals is that humans can create and deal with abstract concepts. As a result of these concepts we become meaning creating creatures. The abstract concepts that we create become the ideas for which we live, die, and kill.
    I think of these "abstract concepts" as merely manifestations of the computation taking place on the neural network. Our consciousness is basically a running story we tell ourselves about what's actually going on in our bodies (including the environmental inputs). If we look only at that story, abstract concepts are important. But on a more fundamental level, the idea of abstract concepts is actually meaningless. It's just neural net processing.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I think of these "abstract concepts" as merely manifestations of the computation taking place on the neural network. Our consciousness is basically a running story we tell ourselves about what's actually going on in our bodies (including the environmental inputs). If we look only at that story, abstract concepts are important. But on a more fundamental level, the idea of abstract concepts is actually meaningless. It's just neural net processing.
    Drawing conclusions about the human psyche based upon untutored common sense is as justified as drawing conclusions about QM based upon untutored common sense.

    We can see only what we are prepared to see and we comprehend only what we are prepared to comprehend.

    When I study a domain of knowledge that is new to me I do not try to insert my common sense untutored intuition in place of what the expert is writing about that domain of knowledge. I will over ride the expert with my own judgment only after I have studied the matter for a good amount of time. One cannot learn anything if they trust their uneducated common sense before that of the expert.

    I think that we would be wise if we were to place our common sense reactions on hold until we had developed a comprehension of the domain of knowledge in question. If we reject all new stuff that is contrary to our common sense we will never grow intellectually.

  5. #15
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    And what does that have to do with me?

    That's just my personal theory after studying cognitive science for a few years. (Actually, I've probably held the theory since I was ten.)

    Anyway, other theories are perfectly consistent, too...They just seem more complex to me, and I like to pick the simplest theories that explain the data I see.

    It does seem odd to me, though, that you agreed with my earlier statements about the arbitrariness of the threshold between mans ability to reason and animals', but you don't apply the same logic to mans ability to use abstract concepts in comparison with other animals.

    What current cognitive science research seems to suggest is that we're basically all walking turing machines (man and animals)...or even the universe is a big turing machine... and when you're in that framework, ideas like "abstract concepts" aren't useful. Now, you can switch frames and use "abstract concepts" in a meaningful way, but not in the context of computational cognitive science. Unless you're somehow using the terms differently than I am.

    Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding you; I don't know.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    And what does that have to do with me?


    That's just my personal theory after studying cognitive science for a few years. (Actually, I've probably held the theory since I was ten.)

    Anyway, other theories are perfectly consistent, too...They just seem more complex to me, and I like to pick the simplest theories that explain the data I see.

    It does seem odd to me, though, that you agreed with my earlier statements about the arbitrariness of the threshold between mans ability to reason and animals', but you don't apply the same logic to mans ability to use abstract concepts in comparison with other animals.

    What current cognitive science research seems to suggest is that we're basically all walking turing machines (man and animals)...or even the universe is a big turing machine... and when you're in that framework, ideas like "abstract concepts" aren't useful. Now, you can switch frames and use "abstract concepts" in a meaningful way, but not in the context of computational cognitive science. Unless you're somehow using the terms differently than I am.

    Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding you; I don't know.
    SGCS (Second Generation Cogniive Science) has gone far beyond and has proven the invalidity of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in describing human cognition.

    We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body. “Reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement.” It is this capacity of autonomous reason that makes us different in kind from all other animals. I suspect that many fundamental aspects of philosophy and psychology are focused upon declaring, whenever possible, the separateness of our species from all other animals.

    This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.

    The three major findings of cognitive science are:
    The mind is inherently embodied.
    Thought is mostly unconscious.
    Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

    “These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting [for traditional thinking] in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”

    All living creatures categorize. All creatures, as a minimum, separate eat from no eat and friend from foe. As neural creatures tadpole and wo/man categorize. There are trillions of synaptic connections taking place in the least sophisticated of creatures and this multiple synapses must be organized in some way to facilitate passage through a small number of interconnections and thus categorization takes place. Great numbers of different synapses take place in an experience and these are subsumed in some fashion to provide the category eat or foe perhaps.

    Our categories are what we consider to be real in the world: tree, rock, animal…Our concepts are what we use to structure our reasoning about these categories. Concepts are neural structures that are the fundamental means by which we reason about categories.

    Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson

  7. #17
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    SGCS (Second Generation Cogniive Science) has gone far beyond and has proven the invalidity of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in describing human cognition.
    Why/how?

    Have you not studied neural nets?

    P.S. Lakoff is at my school and I've heard him lecture a few times. He is not God.

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