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Why do we hold shared beliefs?

 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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TwoPunnyFourWords
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23 February 2017 12:30
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 11:33 AM

That’s an interesting take, although my intuition is to frame it as a growing scaffold, where new desires and motives arise with new levels of cognition. And I see shared truths as a genie in a bottle situation - our ability to track them (whether you see them as ultimately true or a collective hallucination that is nonetheless binding to all involved) may have evolved for survival reasons, but once present, is not bound by them. So it becomes a ‘larger’ truth at that point. So I see the group as important but not as what defines boundaries in this case - to me the boundaries of shared morality roughly align with shared understanding.

Your intuition is pre-linguistic, too. When people get intuitions, they cannot verbalise where it came from, only the conclusion, and that necessarily makes it pre-linguistic however the bloody hell it works.

Perhaps if I phrase it this way, you will see what I’m getting at:

First, you have the rules of reality. Nested inside that, you have the rules of genetic information processing and evolution. Nested inside that, you have the rules of biological organ organisation and co-ordination. Nested inside that, you have the rules of thought construction. And finally nested inside that do you have the symbolic language game that we play to maintain the self-repeating pattern of the genome. The goal of the symbol game is to get the symbols to line up with all the other rulesets simultaneously as closely as we possibly can, and we’re all running towards the same finish line even while we’re mostly oblivious of it.

 
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23 February 2017 13:45
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 12:30 PM

Your intuition is pre-linguistic, too. When people get intuitions, they cannot verbalise where it came from, only the conclusion, and that necessarily makes it pre-linguistic however the bloody hell it works.

Perhaps if I phrase it this way, you will see what I’m getting at:

First, you have the rules of reality. Nested inside that, you have the rules of genetic information processing and evolution. Nested inside that, you have the rules of biological organ organisation and co-ordination. Nested inside that, you have the rules of thought construction. And finally nested inside that do you have the symbolic language game that we play to maintain the self-repeating pattern of the genome. The goal of the symbol game is to get the symbols to line up with all the other rulesets simultaneously as closely as we possibly can, and we’re all running towards the same finish line even while we’re mostly oblivious of it.


That’s an interesting hypothesis, but having spent a great deal of time thinking about this topic and haphazardly researching it in my spare time over the years (in relation to the development of empathy, theory of mind, and abstract language, as they relate to students with autism,) I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. We certainly do not have reason to believe that any species of nonverbal animal has the kind of theory of mind or level of abstraction that we do (of course maybe they do and can’t display it, but researchers rig up all sorts of ingenious tests to probe for those sorts of things.) Those who do begin to show such skills - usually some primates, birds like crows, dogs, cats, dolphins, etc. - also show rudimentary communication. To me the empirical evidence points to the idea that these skills co-arise and over time work on each other in an ‘upward spiral’ feedback loop.

 
 
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23 February 2017 14:01
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 01:45 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 12:30 PM

Your intuition is pre-linguistic, too. When people get intuitions, they cannot verbalise where it came from, only the conclusion, and that necessarily makes it pre-linguistic however the bloody hell it works.

Perhaps if I phrase it this way, you will see what I’m getting at:

First, you have the rules of reality. Nested inside that, you have the rules of genetic information processing and evolution. Nested inside that, you have the rules of biological organ organisation and co-ordination. Nested inside that, you have the rules of thought construction. And finally nested inside that do you have the symbolic language game that we play to maintain the self-repeating pattern of the genome. The goal of the symbol game is to get the symbols to line up with all the other rulesets simultaneously as closely as we possibly can, and we’re all running towards the same finish line even while we’re mostly oblivious of it.


That’s an interesting hypothesis, but having spent a great deal of time thinking about this topic and haphazardly researching it in my spare time over the years (in relation to the development of empathy, theory of mind, and abstract language, as they relate to students with autism,) I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. We certainly do not have reason to believe that any species of nonverbal animal has the kind of theory of mind or level of abstraction that we do (of course maybe they do and can’t display it, but researchers rig up all sorts of ingenious tests to probe for those sorts of things.) Those who do begin to show such skills - usually some primates, birds like crows, dogs, cats, dolphins, etc. - also show rudimentary communication. To me the empirical evidence points to the idea that these skills co-arise and over time work on each other in an ‘upward spiral’ feedback loop.

https://phys.org/news/2016-06-slime-mold-insight-intelligence-neuron-less.html
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160221-plant-science-botany-evolution-mabey-ngbooktalk/

You’ve got a big intellectual chip on your shoulder regarding the specialness of human abstraction. We are so profoundly ignorant of how consciousness and ‘thinking’ manifests that any conjecture about what the thoughts of things unlike us lack should be treated with extreme caution.

 
NL.
 
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23 February 2017 14:27
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:01 PM

You’ve got a big intellectual chip on your shoulder regarding the specialness of human abstraction. We are so profoundly ignorant of how consciousness and ‘thinking’ manifests that any conjecture about what the thoughts of things unlike us lack should be treated with extreme caution.


This is just silly. You came in making grand conclusions about ‘how it is’, but when I politely expressed a difference of opinion, I have ‘a big intellectual chip on my shoulder’.  Peace out.

 
 
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23 February 2017 14:51
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 02:27 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:01 PM

You’ve got a big intellectual chip on your shoulder regarding the specialness of human abstraction. We are so profoundly ignorant of how consciousness and ‘thinking’ manifests that any conjecture about what the thoughts of things unlike us lack should be treated with extreme caution.


This is just silly. You came in making grand conclusions about ‘how it is’, but when I politely expressed a difference of opinion, I have ‘a big intellectual chip on my shoulder’.  Peace out.

I did make grand claims. I’m not hostile to criticism. I made what I believe to be a fair point because people generally have a conceited view of human intellect, and I provided two links to demonstrate why I think the characterisation of a “chip” is justified.

I don’t think you generally have a big intellectual chip on your shoulder; I thought the conversation was actually pleasantly engaging to be honest. It’s nice to see someone who can think for themselves.

 
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23 February 2017 15:16
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:51 PM
NL. - 23 February 2017 02:27 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:01 PM

You’ve got a big intellectual chip on your shoulder regarding the specialness of human abstraction. We are so profoundly ignorant of how consciousness and ‘thinking’ manifests that any conjecture about what the thoughts of things unlike us lack should be treated with extreme caution.


This is just silly. You came in making grand conclusions about ‘how it is’, but when I politely expressed a difference of opinion, I have ‘a big intellectual chip on my shoulder’.  Peace out.

I did make grand claims. I’m not hostile to criticism. I made what I believe to be a fair point because people generally have a conceited view of human intellect, and I provided two links to demonstrate why I think the characterisation of a “chip” is justified.

I don’t think you generally have a big intellectual chip on your shoulder; I thought the conversation was actually pleasantly engaging to be honest. It’s nice to see someone who can think for themselves.


So, I gave an example of high level abstraction in mammals and you said this is a conceited view and posted articles about the intelligence of slime without elaborating on what you meant by that. Are you saying the two are equivalent? If someone offered to take you to a swamp and murder you in such a way that your body became mostly slime, would you happily take them up on the offer? Why or why not?

 
 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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23 February 2017 16:05
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 03:16 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:51 PM
NL. - 23 February 2017 02:27 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 02:01 PM

You’ve got a big intellectual chip on your shoulder regarding the specialness of human abstraction. We are so profoundly ignorant of how consciousness and ‘thinking’ manifests that any conjecture about what the thoughts of things unlike us lack should be treated with extreme caution.

This is just silly. You came in making grand conclusions about ‘how it is’, but when I politely expressed a difference of opinion, I have ‘a big intellectual chip on my shoulder’.  Peace out.

I did make grand claims. I’m not hostile to criticism. I made what I believe to be a fair point because people generally have a conceited view of human intellect, and I provided two links to demonstrate why I think the characterisation of a “chip” is justified.

I don’t think you generally have a big intellectual chip on your shoulder; I thought the conversation was actually pleasantly engaging to be honest. It’s nice to see someone who can think for themselves.

So, I gave an example of high level abstraction in mammals and you said this is a conceited view and posted articles about the intelligence of slime without elaborating on what you meant by that. Are you saying the two are equivalent? If someone offered to take you to a swamp and murder you in such a way that your body became mostly slime, would you happily take them up on the offer? Why or why not?

I am saying that “theory of mind” is little more than a type of representation.

https://phys.org/news/2012-10-slime-molds-spatial-memory.html#nRlv

Spatial memory is essentially an abstract representation of what lies in reality. This kind of mathematical modelling of reality is ridiculously easy for life to construct at this point in evolutionary history.

Actually, thanks for this challenge because I would have missed this otherwise:
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees-reveal-complex.html#nRlv

And to really end with a flourish, ants pass the mirror test:
http://www.animalcognition.org/2015/04/15/list-of-animals-that-have-passed-the-mirror-test/

So when you say theory of mind, I have to ask, theory of whose mind?

I mean, at this point I’m pretty convinced that DNA has agency and its own form of a ‘mind’. A cursory look at how plants use epigenetics to record memories of seasonal weather patterns makes it hard to deny as a plausible possibility.

 
NL.
 
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23 February 2017 16:41
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 04:05 PM

I am saying that “theory of mind” is little more than a type of representation.

https://phys.org/news/2012-10-slime-molds-spatial-memory.html#nRlv

Spatial memory is essentially an abstract representation of what lies in reality. This kind of mathematical modelling of reality is ridiculously easy for life to construct at this point in evolutionary history.

Actually, thanks for this challenge because I would have missed this otherwise:
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees-reveal-complex.html#nRlv

And to really end with a flourish, ants pass the mirror test:
http://www.animalcognition.org/2015/04/15/list-of-animals-that-have-passed-the-mirror-test/

So when you say theory of mind, I have to ask, theory of whose mind?

I mean, at this point I’m pretty convinced that DNA has agency and its own form of a ‘mind’. A cursory look at how plants use epigenetics to record memories of seasonal weather patterns makes it hard to deny as a plausible possibility.


Apologies, PJ Funny Bunny, but I am just back from a silent retreat and still getting my bearings (post retreat motion sickness from everything moving so fast, visually - that’s never happened before), so I cannot read all those links at the moment. If you care to summarize salient points as they relate to your train of thought here, happy to read them. And anyways, you still didn’t answer my question. If human sentience is so overrated, would you want someone to take you to a swamp and murder you in such a way that you became a big heap of slime? Why or why not?

 
 
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23 February 2017 17:10
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 04:41 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 04:05 PM

I am saying that “theory of mind” is little more than a type of representation.

https://phys.org/news/2012-10-slime-molds-spatial-memory.html#nRlv

Spatial memory is essentially an abstract representation of what lies in reality. This kind of mathematical modelling of reality is ridiculously easy for life to construct at this point in evolutionary history.

Actually, thanks for this challenge because I would have missed this otherwise:
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-ball-rolling-bees-reveal-complex.html#nRlv

And to really end with a flourish, ants pass the mirror test:
http://www.animalcognition.org/2015/04/15/list-of-animals-that-have-passed-the-mirror-test/

So when you say theory of mind, I have to ask, theory of whose mind?

I mean, at this point I’m pretty convinced that DNA has agency and its own form of a ‘mind’. A cursory look at how plants use epigenetics to record memories of seasonal weather patterns makes it hard to deny as a plausible possibility.


Apologies, PJ Funny Bunny, but I am just back from a silent retreat and still getting my bearings (post retreat motion sickness from everything moving so fast, visually - that’s never happened before), so I cannot read all those links at the moment. If you care to summarize salient points as they relate to your train of thought here, happy to read them. And anyways, you still didn’t answer my question. If human sentience is so overrated, would you want someone to take you to a swamp and murder you in such a way that you became a big heap of slime? Why or why not?

Those links show that even insects are capable of complex learning by watching other members of their species. There’s direct observed evidence of ants trying to clean their own faces in the mirror, while those same ants react to other ants thus covered as outsiders to be attacked. In other words, that’s self-awareness and facial recognition in a freaking insect within a social context.

So no, I like being human, but that doesn’t mean I’m so arrogant as to think that there’s something particularly special about my ability to recognise the existence of ‘other minds’. The stuff that makes being human awesome is distinct from this aspect of cognition.

Simple enough, I hope.

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 17:24 by TwoPunnyFourWords]
 
NL.
 
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23 February 2017 18:04
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 05:10 PM

Those links show that even insects are capable of complex learning by watching other members of their species. There’s direct observed evidence of ants trying to clean their own faces in the mirror, while those same ants react to other ants thus covered as outsiders to be attacked. In other words, that’s self-awareness and facial recognition in a freaking insect within a social context.

So no, I like being human, but that doesn’t mean I’m so arrogant as to think that there’s something particularly special about my ability to recognise the existence of ‘other minds’. The stuff that makes being human awesome is distinct from this aspect of cognition.

Simple enough, I hope.


I feel like we’re right back where we started though. Assuming those studies are solid and valid, ants are indeed social animals who work tightly in groups. They demonstrate communicative behaviors. And it’s very notable that many mammals do fail the mirror test. So this doesn’t contradict anything I said. So, again, my intuition is still that many cognitive skills are emergent, as I said in my earlier post, when you described my intuition as ‘pre-linguistic’. I would say it was intertwined with linguistic skills.

 
 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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23 February 2017 18:34
 
NL. - 23 February 2017 06:04 PM
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 05:10 PM

Those links show that even insects are capable of complex learning by watching other members of their species. There’s direct observed evidence of ants trying to clean their own faces in the mirror, while those same ants react to other ants thus covered as outsiders to be attacked. In other words, that’s self-awareness and facial recognition in a freaking insect within a social context.

So no, I like being human, but that doesn’t mean I’m so arrogant as to think that there’s something particularly special about my ability to recognise the existence of ‘other minds’. The stuff that makes being human awesome is distinct from this aspect of cognition.

Simple enough, I hope.


I feel like we’re right back where we started though. Assuming those studies are solid and valid, ants are indeed social animals who work tightly in groups. They demonstrate communicative behaviors. And it’s very notable that many mammals do fail the mirror test. So this doesn’t contradict anything I said. So, again, my intuition is still that many cognitive skills are emergent, as I said in my earlier post, when you described my intuition as ‘pre-linguistic’. I would say it was intertwined with linguistic skills.

Well, anything we could communicate is conceivably interwined with linguistic skills. Insofar as there is a biological system that operates according to a DNA-based rule system, it could be argued that everything that we are is nothing but a linguistic expression, and that expression is what your own linguistic framework is bounded within. The parts of it that operate but which you cannot symbolise is necessarily a part of you that is functioning pre-linguistically from your subjective perspective. Nonetheless, there is a reality to it that persists regardless of our awareness of it or lack thereof. It is this substrate that drives us to form a commonality; we’re basically undergoing a collective cognitive transformation such as the one that allowed the first multi-celled organisms to cohere as a single entity.

 
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24 February 2017 04:34
 
TwoPunnyFourWords - 23 February 2017 06:34 PM

Well, anything we could communicate is conceivably interwined with linguistic skills. Insofar as there is a biological system that operates according to a DNA-based rule system, it could be argued that everything that we are is nothing but a linguistic expression, and that expression is what your own linguistic framework is bounded within. The parts of it that operate but which you cannot symbolise is necessarily a part of you that is functioning pre-linguistically from your subjective perspective. Nonetheless, there is a reality to it that persists regardless of our awareness of it or lack thereof.


I don’t disagree, but I think this is zoomed way out from the level we were discussing before. Sort of like saying everything is the universe expressing itself or everything is determinism playing out. This may well be true, but at a more zoomed in level, I do think that awareness is causal in behavior. I think that’s an important point. Whether or not we chose that awareness in the most ultimate sense or not.

It is this substrate that drives us to form a commonality; we’re basically undergoing a collective cognitive transformation such as the one that allowed the first multi-celled organisms to cohere as a single entity.


Maybe. Who knows? It seems to me that religions often contain this idea (in Buddhism, there’s the illusion of separation that one can become aware of, and relative progress here means rebirth [spatial separation] in certain ‘realms’; in Christianity it’s separation from God and heaven comes after we die [temporal separation] although both seem to say that at the most ultimate level even these categories are illusions anyways.) and as a philosophical framework I believe in some version of movement towards awareness of nonseparateness.

 
 
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