Sunday, March 04, 2007

Comments on the Tangents

Our friend over at the Growlery has made some comments on our last installment concerning information. I realize that I am far behind in finishing up the bemusings, but really, HAL has been the most obstreperous of computers. He is quiescent now. Its hard to be your own I.T. tech.

Comments on the Tangents on the Comments:

Growlery: I would have been tempted to say that the brain is completely dependent, rather than "strongly dependent", on sensory information received. Even when surviving sensory deprivation, it falls back on recycling of external information previously received.

Dr.C: I would agree with this completely. Hopefully, when we get to the inner workings of the brain, this will be the crucial observation pertaining to free will.

Growlery:And I was amused by his use of the word "purpose" ("In spite of being in thrall to the imagination, I am sure you will agree that abstract creativity is not the primary purpose of the brain" - para 3, my emphasis). It is, of course, a figure of speech: I use it myself. My amusement derives from knowing that Dr C is usually more strict than I about not using language which imputes purpose to the products of blind evolutionary chance. Amusement aside, this says more about language, and thinking, and the symbolic bases of both, than about Dr C or myself.

Dr.C.: Again, I would agree that “purpose” is a loaded word. It is anthropomorphism at its sloppiest. I will be more careful in the future. Let us just say that although evolution is blind, it is also thoughtful. He (or She) would like to maximize a given species chances for survival (but not the collective species, i.e. life). Now this indeed is something to ponder. Talk about a tangent!

Growlery: Abstract creativity is the faculty which makes possible concrete problem solving in unexpected and unpredictable (even, on occasion, unimaginable) sets of new conditions or circumstances. It is at least arguable as a hypothesis that capacity for abstract creativity is the main factor in maximising the probability of survival, wellbeing and procreation for Homo sapiens. And if that hypothesis is accepted, then can it not be said that abstract creativity is the primary purpose (or at least a primary purpose) of the newest, most recently evolved regions of the brain?

Dr.C.: This, again, is just a rather heady grist for the ponder mill. One can easily see how the evolution of wings on a bird help it to fly. And then, the transformation of these wings to limbs (if I remember it right). But how does the ability to think (whatever that is) evolve? It must say something about the underlying structure of the brain. That is, the brain must be so structured as to allow evolution. So, I am going to store this question until we arrive at the brain itself. I only have a few things to tidy up on the periphery, but they are important.

Since Bill Evans on the piano is definitively abstract creativity. And there is many the man who seduced the girl (maximized his procreativity) using him as background, The Growlery has a point.

1 comment:

Cicero said...

"In this sense, evolution is unidirectional and one cannot foretell what the upper limit will be." Teilard?