• Enrique
    247
    How accurate is this as a partial account of reasoning's origin?

    The thinking of organisms evolved towards greater apprehension of order in many commonly perceived patterns, eventually reaching protological awareness, an intuitive knack for grasping the most prevalent kinds of cause and effect, effortlessly fitting phenomenal interactivity into a kind of conceptualizing chassis, its most simple features being those enumerated as basics of formal logic: negation (not p), conjunction (both p and q), disjunction (either p or q), conditional (if p then q), and similar such notions. This association-making aptitude as logic's precursor assisted in capacitating creative problem-solving characteristic of species with the most elite technical thinking, a trait profile we conventionally identify as elementary intelligence.

    Is fundamental logic instinctual to organic cognition as a function for processing certain types of spontaneous causality? To what extent is logical structure infused into the domain of phenomenal perception?
  • Echarmion
    1.5k
    To what extent is logical structure infused into the domain of phenomenal perception?Enrique

    This may have to be addressed before talking about the evolution of logic, since it may be that logic is not actually a capability that evolved separately, but rather part of the structure of thinking and perception.
  • Enrique
    247
    This seems like a topic the phenomenologists might have addressed. Anyone got any insights from perhaps Husserl or Merleau-Ponty to humor my lazybones?
  • Banno
    8.8k
    There's an inference error here. Organisms are ordered. Order is described in logical terms. Logic is part of language. Bacteria do not make use of logic.
  • Enrique
    247


    That's a big challenge, specifying which organisms we're talking about exactly. I agree that human logic is extremely linguistic, also substantially acquired by experience, and formal logic is of course a meticulously learned technical language, but my inclination is to think that protological intuition can be found in all kinds of much less sophisticatedly linguistic birds and mammals at the very least. I'm surmising it depends on which parts of a relatively cognitive species' brain are wired to core logic centers more than radical differences between these logic centers in different species. How much does human protologic resemble that of nonhuman animals, and can an analysis of human language reveal much about transspecies structures and functions?
  • Fluke
    29
    This hurts, this does not hurt. This action seems to make my point, this does not. This tastes good, this does not. Something basic but still very subjective that to me can result in various forms that could be considered a logical form in one way or another. But socialisation varies. Perceptual type and degree vary due sometimes to physical format as well as socialisation, to use an extreme example take synesthesia, however studies have been done regarding the degree to which an individual is capable of recognising the facial features of another. By my perspective of the human body it is probable that were we to research in the correct form we would find that there are probably degrees to every known aspect of our physical existence. I consider individuality to exist in probability of this, normative socialisation or not. I have seen, heard or been a part of conversations where both parties could have been seen to have been using a form of logical process however the thought processes between both parties were so inately different that the conversation was mythological, ultimately completely non-communicative. Sometimes this seems to result in deep frustration however sometimes people seem to part ways without ever realising this.
  • talminator2856791
    3
    Logic is part of languageBanno

    are you sure? is it not logic upon which language is founded? i would assume before humans could communicate as well as they do now, they could still put 2 and 2 together. logic may very well be very intuitive in some instances as well, which i find hard to believe is based on language. i would also assume that language does not sprout from itself, rather something else.
  • Banno
    8.8k
    are you sure?talminator2856791

    Pretty sure. Before humans could communicate, they might well have behaved logically; but of course they could not have set out that behaviour in logical terms.

    Logic is a formalisation of grammar.
  • apokrisis
    4.7k
    Is fundamental logic instinctual to organic cognition as a function for processing certain types of spontaneous causality?Enrique

    Experiments have been done to test apes for a capacity to learn simple logic rules. The evidence is they struggle to master more than a step or two of reasoning depth even with training.

    This is what we would expect if logic basically piggy backs on the human capacity for language. We have the neurology for syntactic structure - the recursive grammar trick. We can stack up the if/then steps in our working memories.

    Just speaking is proto-logical in forming our thoughts as grammatically structured causal tales of who did what to whom - the canonical subject-verb-object pattern that organises all language (if not necessarily in that order).

    And if speech acts can be true, then they can be false. Think of the social advantages that came with the invention of lying. A lot of the elements of logic as an explicit reasoning discipline are there once we have speech.

    But logic itself is then a culturally developed habit. Anthropological research showed that illiterate Uzbek herdsmen resisted categorising the world in ways that seem “obvious” to any educated modern person - like putting a set of tools such as an axe and hammer separate from the things the tools acted on, like nails and wood. In their experience, those things went together and there was no abstract distinction that made sense.

    Anyway, this has been a topic of a fair amount of research. Human brains are preadapted for logic due to the recursive or nested structure of grammar. And then actual logic has developed as a useful cultural habit of thought. It becomes embedded through the standard modern childhood. (With various degrees of success perhaps.)
  • Isaac
    2.7k
    Experiments have been done to test apes for a capacity to learn simple logic rules. The evidence is they struggle to master more than a step or two of reasoning depth even with training.apokrisis

    Don't suppose you happen to have a citation for this by any chance? I'll find it on Scholar if not, but asking you might be quicker.
  • Banno
    8.8k
    Given that Crows can plan three steps ahead, it's an interesting point.
  • Isaac
    2.7k
    Given that Crows can plan three steps ahead, it's an interesting point.Banno

    Yeah, that's along the lines I was thinking. Something interesting in the way 'logic' is being defined. Also interested in this concept of 'reasoning depth', and how the researchers might be identifying that within the experimental conditions.
  • Banno
    8.8k
    Something interesting in the way 'logic' is being defined.Isaac

    Yeah, the detail is important. Is the crow thinking "if I do A, then I can do B, and then C"? Of course not; those conditionals require language...

    So it is an interesting issue.
  • apokrisis
    4.7k
    It’s been 30 years since I was digging into that particular literature so I am sketchy on the details. And I chucked out all the papers long ago.

    This is an example of the kind of thing though -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206216/#!po=6.09756

    The point was not that great apes couldn’t master a first step of reasoning - the equivalent of a disjunctive syllogism where the ape could tell that if one food reward cup was empty, then the treat was hidden in the other. It was that once you started adding one such rule on top of another, performance fell off fast. It was too much working memory load to keep more than one contradiction in mind.
  • bongo fury
    500
    Crows can plan three steps ahead,Banno

    I think what the crows (and current AI) are able to do is less than we are able, which we might distinguish as "rational" but I would propose clarifying as semantical: the ability to discern meaning in the sense of discerning what symbols are supposed to be pointed at.bongo fury

    the equivalent of a disjunctive syllogism where the ape could tell that if one food reward cup was empty, then the treat was hidden in the other.apokrisis

    Again, the question is whether the ape reasoned by giving meaning to symbols, by being able to play the social game of pretending to point them at things. That would be logic in the human (as opposed to pocket calculator or trained neural network) sense.
  • Isaac
    2.7k


    Thanks for looking. I know how annoying it is to have some study in mind and not be able to track it down. I'll have a read of the paper you linked though, looks interesting. I asked my wife about it (she knows more than me about this sort if thing), and she suggested the Douglas Gillan experiments on transituve reasoning in chimpanzees in the 80s, does that sound likely?
  • 3017amen
    2.1k
    Is fundamental logic instinctual to organic cognition as a function for processing certain types of spontaneous causality? To what extent is logical structure infused into the domain of phenomenal perception?Enrique

    Science says that birds, have limited ability to count, but an innate ability nonetheless. Accordingly, a quick study of Kant would infer that the ability to reason through "phenomenal perception" is part of the 'innate phenomenon' known as the synthetic a priori in cognition. The synthetic a priori is partly, a priori knowledge combining innate abilities to reason (logic) and metaphysical wonderment. Both of which infuse sense perception and experience. I think that is where part of the "infusion" manifests.

    Do birds wonder about counting things, and does a sense of wonderment confer any biological survival value? Perhaps it is, like you say, an ability of "phenomenal perception" that all creatures somehow to some degree hold innately.

    Alternatively, one could reasonably consider the meanings or implications associated with being self-aware in and of itself. Of course, to start there, might could lead to thinking about other innate cognitive structures of the mind, which could uncover other interesting phenomena.
  • Enrique
    247
    I've reflected some more since then, and came up with a theory that I posted as the OP of this thread: Categories of Human Thought. It's not the full deal, only an excerpt, but I'd be interested to see you guys discuss the terminology etc. How convincing do you find it? Any obvious flaws?
  • 3017amen
    2.1k


    I think the 'category' of a priori logic associated with computer's is worth a shout-out,
    (that you mentioned in your thesis) . As a sort of a cosmic consciousness/computers, ultimately, we will only get out of it what we put into it.

    In consideration of the binary aspect of the computer design, we seemingly only have right or wrong, yes/no equations to choose from. The human condition, of course, is much more than that. For example, computing gray areas or sentience and/or other existential phenomena (being and becoming) from simply living life/consciousness, would in effect, cause a computer to crash. It would not know how to compute those 'phenomenal' things because it was designed in a binary fashion (not to mention the complexities of consciousness and subconscious working together violating LEM/bivalence).

    Of course, one can make comparisons to computers and the human ability to apperceive pure logic (mathematics), and the a priori. But I think that would be the only fail safe comparison there (?).
  • Gnomon
    802
    Is fundamental logic instinctual to organic cognition as a function for processing certain types of spontaneous causality?Enrique
    Socrates taught that all basic knowledge (principles) was innate, and we merely combine them into new forms to suit different contexts. That's equivalent to what some thinkers have called "Logical Intuition". :smile:

    Logical Intuition : Bertrand Russell, though critical of intuitive mysticism, pointed out that the degree to which a truth is self-evident according to logical intuition can vary, from one situation to another, and stated that some self-evident truths are practically infallible:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_intuition

    Even Crows Can Count : https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/64743/how-do-crows-count
  • talminator2856791
    3
    Logic is a formalisation of grammarBanno

    do you have proof for this?
  • Harry Hindu
    3.4k
    Experiments have been done to test apes for a capacity to learn simple logic rules. The evidence is they struggle to master more than a step or two of reasoning depth even with training.

    This is what we would expect if logic basically piggy backs on the human capacity for language. We have the neurology for syntactic structure - the recursive grammar trick. We can stack up the if/then steps in our working memories.
    apokrisis
    The limitations of these apes seems to be related more with memory capacity and attention span, not necessarily logic. If an ape were to read a long sentence, would it still remember the beginning of the sentence when it reaches the end of it?

    It seems to me that it is the opposite - that language piggy backs on the capacity for logic. The law of identity, excluded middle and non-contradictions are the most fundamental rules of logic and language simply couldn't be conceived of prior to these rules being inherent within the mind - like that some identifying mark identifies something else. Establishing correlations and relationships has to be an inherent mental skill if you are to correlate some sound or marking with something else.
  • Enrique
    247
    I side more with Harry Hindu regarding the basics of logic. I think a chimpanzee's ability to make logiclike differentiations amongst perceptions isn't fundamentally different from human beings, but the sphere of qualitative phenomena its logical or "protological" mind is molded to focus on and intuit about differs, and attention span as partially driven by intentionality may also be somewhat inferior. My post is probably way too long for this forum, but perhaps it decisively resolves the issue, so why not? You guys dig philosophy, maybe you'll read it. And its not really THAT long. If any of the terminology is mystifying, the OP of my Categories of Human Thought thread probably clarifies. Go ahead and critique any of it you want!


    Like humans, songbirds have facility with structure concepts, for they erect nests that are intricate masses of sticks and brush, clearly envisioning how parts fit together as a whole. Beavers display a similar behavioral repertoire when they build dams, squirrels as they construct their abodes, and even though many of the more highly cognitive mammals have much different ways of obtaining shelter, perhaps merely digging and adorning a hole in the ground, the modest adaptability each of these organisms have to differing times and places over the span of their lives and ranges entails at least rudimentary protomechanistic reasoning from novel cause to imagined effect. In what measure this springs from linkages between cognitive centers of structural and linear protologicality in other species besides humans is unknown, but if there is any analogizability it is obvious that humans are far superior in this regard. Our species adapts protologically structural thinking to vastly more and larger scale material contexts, and humanity’s abstract (extrapolative and interpolative) inferencing in the domains of both sign and image symbolism is much more capable. Even children of average intelligence catch on to the infinitely recursive nature of numeral systems after exposure to sequences of only a few numbers, and have no trouble incorporating these linguisticlike concepts as quantitative labels for the proportions and additional basic properties of shapes. Chimpanzees, our closest hereditary relatives, can do a biologically respectable job of object manipulation as adults if utility for behaviors such as food-acquisition becomes apparent, but applying abstract signs to figures, then deriving mathematical principles according to which these figures are systematically permuted in infinitely variable ways, a purely conceptual language of objects, is completely beyond them.

    Expressive intentionality of the human psyche has its evolutionary roots in ancestral species’ aptitude for symbolic recognitions, evinced by thousands of additional biological lineages as well. Even moderately advanced cognition can experience numerous phenomenal attributes as symbolic of causal properties in the environment, learning, predicting, putting two and two together by inspection of indirect evidence. Organisms pick up on each other’s scents, tracks, sounds and so on, from which is constructed a mental model of behavioral tendencies, whether for hunting, eluding predation, or seeking an intraspecies social opportunity. Likewise, weather and the body’s own homeostatic states signal seasonal exigency, inducing activities such as migration and hibernation that are carried out with greater survival-related efficiency and success when an animal’s thinking is more capable. To illustrate this, we can simply compare a Monarch butterfly to a grizzly bear: these butterflies manage to migrate thousands of miles, completely beyond the capacity of a bear species that, for analogous purposes, can do no more than hole up in the vicinity, but the ascendance of grizzly intelligence was such that this animal became almost impervious to death by either starvation or violence, its food-finding and danger avoidance being rather cunning and resourceful, while thousands upon thousands of Monarchs die each year from a relative absence of foresight. In general, an individual mammal’s prospects prove better than an insect’s with its much smaller brain, for implications of relevant environmental patterns and perception generally are in the former case more interpretable.

    The primary precondition for graduating from recognition of attributes as symbols to symbolic expression is of course robust intentionality. Intention evolved as mode selecting awareness for internal control of brain states, empowering the mind to align with environments in more context-sensitive ways while also starting to place further checks on the reflexivity of stimulus/response, beyond simple sensitization and habituation, so that delayed gratification in service of more causally efficacious outcomes became possible along with diversification in the repertory of behaviors, altogether increasing adaptability of individual organisms to variabilities and nuances of circumstance. Attention span and improvisational thought advanced in some species until a sort of primordial introspection arose, which assessed cause and effect entirely absent environmental cuing, by self-directed conception conjoined to perceptual stream of consciousness.

    In most natural settings, strong selection pressures are exerted on the introspectively problem-solving self to target particular practical objectives, whether of feeding, mating, sheltering, safety, etc., limiting the creativity of most organisms. This is clear from observation of how vocalizing bird species have a more economical range of calls when their lives are spent in the wilderness, deprived of the ample food and relative security usually afforded by close contact with humans. Cognition in these cases is honed for a lifecycle of overriding material requisites, with libido canalized almost exclusively towards particular functional needs. When introduced to captivity, provided that basic essentials are readily accessible and stressors as well as other preoccupations minimized, many of these birds start to sing more inventively, as if entertaining themselves during idle stretches by novel riffing. We of course see the same phenomenon in our pets, albeit often less related to conceptualization: when certain dog breeds are left to their own devices, they incessantly chew for no purpose but recreation; some cats will paw a toy mouse around the room and repeatedly pounce to mimic the pleasure of hunting; a hamster has great fun mock scurrying on its wheel. Offering pets diversions that have no problem-solving stipulations places little strain on their cognition, so that domesticated recreating does not perforce incline towards extraordinary intelligence, but in order for a wild animal to come upon the same level of open-ended idle time, it must be smart enough to have mastered its environment. There is much besides an organism’s wits that figures into this type of behavioral supremacy, such as sparsities of both threat and deprivation due to size, speed or group congregation, but when some or all of these factors happen to intersect with substantive introspection potential, the devotion of libido to self-amusement of peak imaginativeness along with physiological dynamics such as neoteny can select for evolution of an identity-complex in the organism’s mind, a self-awareness constructed from keenly observing and reflecting upon its own experience.

    The Homo genus was quite sophisticated in this respect, harnessing nature in biologically unprecedented ways with a commanding technological insightfulness. Consciousness in these species was becoming able to discriminate more obscure relationships between many kinds of phenomena by introspection-informed observation of immediate patterns in perceptual content within an expanding framework of structural protologicality. Hominin minds simultaneously moved ever closer to conceptually resolving linear protologicality into the narrative thought process of explicit expressiveness we know as logical inferencing, which would one day interface written symbolism and structural abstraction within a culture of rationalist empiricism in order to disseminate high technology worldwide, thus far the apex of humanity’s self-aware competency for analyzing and utilizing environments. But before all of this possibility could be realized, the human race had to evolve its archetypical language faculties.

    The key physiological factor was evolution of brain regions that interface cognition with vocalizing for the sake of articulated utterance, what we know as speech. This mental scaffolding that fine-tuned unconscious processing, intentional thinking, the forms and modes of meaningful statements, and facial coordination to complement each other during acts of verbalizing is of course exceptionally versatile, adopting a plethora of different configurations depending on expressive context, the heterogeneous reality of which formal grammar and analysis of logical argument do not even begin to capture. At base, this structural parameterization is made up of an intuitive grammar roughly divided into conventional parts of speech with very flexible attachment to meaning in many cases, and a sort of expression-centric formulating of protologicality, distantly approximated by the basics of formal logic. A satisfactory theorizing of these underlying structures calls for punctilious research on a level that linguists have probably not yet even dabbled in, a task for science of the future.

    Individual and relationship psychology most likely contributed to the evolution of language in multiple ways. First, basic desire to vocalize is of course necessary, a characteristic shared with thousands upon thousands of nonhuman species. The Homo genus must have begun reflecting on its own vocal behavior as it became more thoughtful and introspective, resulting in primordial cognizance of utterance’s structure and eventually an implicit awareness of expressive sound as involving something like technicalities, which caused the patterns of utterance to grow more consistent. Conceptualizing of utterances as a sort of phenomenal object and then a construction took hold, so that articulation acquired greater aesthetic impact, with more pleasurable, skillful, difficult and beautiful expression held in higher esteem, impressions no doubt stimulating much mimesis in prehistoric clans and tribes. At this point, two simultaneous threads of evolutionary development must have been in effect: the most functionally and aesthetically popular of these species’ expressive tendencies unfolded in a train of progressive social conventions, advancing language as technological and artistic protoculture, while any mutations conferring superior expressive ability would have quickly and dramatically improved language via behavioral mimesis. Thus, reflective observation, aesthetic sensibility, cognitive mutation, imitation and protocultural traditionalizing moved the Homo genus towards linguistic communication, a behavioral trait that is crucial to anatomically modern Homo sapiens’ higher cultures and which likely played a primary role in bridging the gap to our much more expressively symbolic ways of life.

    The first semblance of human language was probably short declarative statements, then rudimentary conversation which hominins and early Homo sapiens took part in primarily as recreational diversion. With humans at least, expression became elaborate enough in its structure to permit storytelling, and the constructing of narrative is of course a core feature of not just casual but more ceremonious forms of socializing, with many prehistoric and historic tales alike serving as culture-defining myths, ritualistically retold, reenacted, shared for millennia as part of basic public consciousness. At the same time as intention to express oneself and the values of one’s culture molded verbalization, speech acts likewise selected for the structure of thought. Linear protologicality of the introspective mind grew increasingly organized while it interacted with linguistic behavior, perceived more and more as chains of discrete syntagma within definite yet infinitely generative meaning. The open-ended iterativity of narrational sound thus coevolved with a cognitively internalized knack for complementary iterative conceptualizing, the abstractional apprehension of languagelike symbolic sequences and further distributional arrangements of symbols in the form of more habile inferencelike extensionalizing and eventually infinite schemas. This affinity for the abstract ultimately prompted humans to invent infinitely generative writing systems, a seminal technical method of civilization.

    One of the most significant benefits accrued from linguistic behavior was greater flexibility in the boundaries of social relationships. Full-bodied language made thinking of almost any complexity or novelty provisional of being expressed with explicitness, while simultaneously generating conditions under which unprecedented thoughts and behaviors are admissible. Human bonding does not merely rally around collective recognition of psychologically obvious means by which to satiate basic drives, such as in hunting, self-defense, mating, familial caretaking or additional relatively compulsion-based activities, in essence crude practical need, but conveys concepts and reflects upon the insights of fellow individuals via the medium of language in a cerebrality and tolerance for comprehensional difficulty or obscurity that is unparalleled by organic life on our planet. Even the most arcane experiencing can diffuse into the general cultural milieu as humans attempt to express entirely unconventionalized and even nonfunctional ideations, with brute negative feedback attenuated by the more intellectualized prerogative of linguistic discoursing, so that groundrules of mutuality do not inhibit independence and diversity necessary for the highest level reasoning. Humans are highly innovative while nonetheless managing to subsist in extremely normalized, eons-old communities.

    Convening the whole of human cognizing towards collective purposes succeeded in tightly binding individuals of prehistoric clans and tribes on numerous experiential planes: members of our species were not only drawn together by feeding, reproduction and protection, but also from out of more conceptual communality such as shared beliefs, spiritual and symbolic rites, gods, technological methods and inventiveness, rituals of many kinds, conversational fraternizing, context-variant manners and mores, all inculcated by way of teaching, learning and reflecting over the span of decades and centuries. This arranging of human life by biologically precocious cognition kept tribes close-knit even as languages and traditions underwent evolutionary drift, which was a huge boon to in-group solidarity, but also a driving force for rapid divergence of separate cultures, so that when human communities lost contact, they could arrive at discrepancies in conceptualizing, expression and practice bordering on incompatibility within only several generations. This was a blessing and a curse, for human decision making and behavior are massively adaptable, but we can tend towards misunderstanding, obstinacy and confrontation during the preliminary stages of intergroup interactions.


    I think this explains in a general way the evolutionary period between pre-Homo sapiens protologicality and the uniquely linguistic, creative protological capacities of anatomically modern, prehistoric humans. Agree?
  • apokrisis
    4.7k
    The limitations of these apes seems to be related more with memory capacity and attention span, not necessarily logic.Harry Hindu

    It is partly that. But more generally there is a lack of the necessary “top-downness” in neural control from those highest cortical areas.

    The brain is organised hierarchically. So the “logic unit” of the higher brain is Broca’s area, a premotor stage for planning actions and feeding into the rungs of the motor cortex that handle the habitual detail of those acts.

    Apes have a smaller and less powerful version of this area. Hominids evolved a steadily larger one, most likely first for tool making and tool use. Then this became a pre-adaption for the ability to make complex structured vocalisations.

    Making a flint axe is a process of sequences of precise steps towards a general intent that is much like articulating an idea. And early humans evolved a very un-apelike tongue and vocal tract that was tailor made for articulated noise making. The first reason for a grammar-like ability to make speech-like sound sequences could have been as a form of expressive “singing” - social communication via indexical vocal gestures.

    So apes lack key aspects of the neural machinery. A large and evolved Broca’s area - a premotor area that would be involved in the focusing and remembering of complexly structured utterances - would be one.

    Humans are good at incredibly complex music patterns. But apes don’t seem so hot with a violin either.

    So their problems with forming long chains of reasoning and nested logical concepts is pretty easily explained,

    I ought to say that this means of course that logic is not biologically innate. It Is a cultural adaptation.

    This goes back to the old debate about whether language or thought comes first. It is believed human rationality had to evolve first to give early humans something that needed saying, But it is the other way around. The development of language as a new level of social-semiosis made it possible to use the brain in entirely new ways. The grammatical structure of speech was a cultural pre-adaptation to inventing a rational style of thinking that followed mathematical strength rules.

    It seems to me that it is the opposite - that language piggy backs on the capacity for logic. The law of identity, excluded middle and non-contradictions are the most fundamental rules of logic and language simply couldn't be conceived of prior to these rules being inherent within the mind - like that some identifying mark identifies something else. Establishing correlations and relationships has to be an inherent mental skill if you are to correlate some sound or marking with something else.Harry Hindu

    There you go. Thought before language or language before thought? That is a bit of a chicken and egg question as the two are entangled. But the neurology and evolution of the vocal tract tells us that there must of been other good reasons to move the biology down the path towards the kind of recursive grammar that enables structured speech acts and hence structured thought acts.

    The metaphysically extraordinary thing then - as Peirce would tell you - is that the world itself is organised rationally. Reality is itself semiotic. Or rather, the laws of thought as we have framed them, reflect the symmetry breaking structure of a self organising Cosmos.

    In truth, the laws of thought only really encode a mechanical or reductionist model of nature’s causality. The laws are not a logic of holism. But that’s fine. Homo sapiens is mostly concerned about being able to mechanically regulate the natural world. So culturally, a reductionist mindset is all we need to teach the little ones. Nature can be treated as a technological problem to be solved.

    But anyway, it is clear enough from social history what piggybacks on what. Rationality is a recent human invention.

    Modern speech had been around for at least 40,000 years. The sudden emergence of art and decoration as fully symbolic expression speaks to that. And rationality got codified as a particular habit of thought among a small class of the educated In Ancient Greece.

    Grammar already provided an analytical tool of sorts - that ability to break the holism of the world into discrete tales of who did what to whom - the enforced sentence structure of subject, verb, object.

    But rationality as we understand it now Is next level semiosis in being proto-mathematical. Just pure mechanical syntactic operations. The semantic units are completely general in being notational symbols for operations on values.

    So yes, because the ability to handle the laws of thought are so revered in modern western culture, there is this built in expectation that this was the great evolutionary step which separates man from the beasts. Or even white men from more primitive grades of men. That is why it becomes so important for those ape researchers, those researchers in comparative cognition, to settle the argument of whether animals are just as rational, or definitely not rational at all.

    But my view focuses on the development of speech as a neurological pre-adaption for vocal “social gesturing” that took about a million years to evolve. That exploded into the far more powerful semiotic tool of full blown symbolic speech and thought about 50,000 years ago - a cultural invention of an actual language. A new kind of software or operating system for the neural hardware that really released its potential as a regulatory tool.

    Then after that came the mathematical level of semiosis as semantics was generalised away to leave only the naked mechanical bones of a computational thought style - the ability to reduce the description of reality to a bare grammatical pattern. Logic as a universal abstract template that reveals reality itself as a machine.

    Logic itself of course is still in fact under development. Aristotle codified the laws of thought. Peirce set the scene for a holistic reframing of them. But along came AP and the madness of its logical positivism. Then came the actual computer revolution and the madness of the cognitivists who wanted to believe that neurology was just a bad - wet, messy and leaky - implementation of a set of symbol processing logic gates.

    The developmental trajectory got shunted sideways. You have to laugh or else you would weep. :grimace:

    But anyway, logical thought is a learnt skill. And beyond the familiar mechanical conception of logic, there are still higher levels one can aspire to as ways of usefully encoding reality. It is all an unfolding work in progress.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    As noted above, the furniture of reason - the law of the excluded middle, the law of identity, and so on - is not something that could have evolved, hence the expression with respect to such fundamental ideas that they're 'true in all possible worlds'. What evolved was the capacity to grasp such ideas. I think it manifests as the ability to say that 'it is', 'it is not', 'it is like', 'it is the same as', and so to count and to abstract, which are all so fundamental to thought and language that we take them for granted. But without that ability there would be no theory of evolution, or of anything else.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.4k
    Apes have a smaller and less powerful version of this area. Hominids evolved a steadily larger one, most likely first for tool making and tool use. Then this became a pre-adaption for the ability to make complex structured vocalisations.apokrisis
    Sounds like thinking occurred before language-use to me. Understanding that there are tools to be used is the precursor to using words as a tool.

    Is not learning a type of thinking?

    How did you learn a language if you didnt already have the capacity to distinguish certain sounds and scribbles from each other?

    It also seems like you'd have to be aware of errors in your thinking and how you make them before coming up with rules to avoid those errors (the formal rules of logic).

    And then there is this:
    A Man Without Words
    Once you hear Ildefonso's story, it will be obvious that he had thoughts prior to learning to communicate them.
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    Thought before language or language before thought? That is a bit of a chicken and egg question as the two are entangled.apokrisis

    That is well worth unpacking though, for it sheds much needed light upon the subject matter. One historical issue is the all or nothing approach. Some thought is prior to language, other thought is not.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k
    Like humans, songbirds have facility with structure concepts, for they erect nests that are intricate masses of sticks and brush, clearly envisioning how parts fit together as a whole [my emphasis].Enrique

    Is there research that establishes this? I think I can almost imagine experiment designs that might get near questions like this -- or at least showing sensitivity to the in-progress shape. (Do they correct for mistakes? Do they adjust for the effects of an obstacle? But that would be the barest beginning.)

    It's not the word "envisioning" which bothers me.

    It's specifically the question of whether the behavior is guided toward a specific end result, for two reasons:

    • rationality is, in some vague sense, a matter of the role an ideal plays in behavior (the ideal in this case being the shape of the not-yet-completed nest); the ideal is something not part of the physical environment but is still "acted on", "striven towards", "abided by", that sort of thing; (a)
    • logic in particular is concerned precisely with the reduction of informal methods of reasoning -- which are often guided by the desired end result in ways we consider fallacious -- to a mechanical procedure, in deliberant disregard for what the procedure will produce.

    A nest-building bird that followed a procedure mechanically -- add a piece to what we have so far by entwining it in a certain way, leaving ways to use it for the next bit, and preserving a local curvature of such-and-such -- could consistently produce nests with no knowledge of the overall shape its procedure leads to. (b)


    (a) Fine with me if someone claims it is "physically present" in the builder's brain -- at the level of behavior, materials used, artifacts constructed, it's not there, but maybe I shouldn't shrug this off so quickly.

    (b) And we would presumably look to natural selection to explain why this is the procedure they follow, which is whole 'nother thing.
  • Enrique
    247
    A nest-building bird that followed a procedure mechanically -- add a piece to what we have so far by entwining it in a certain way, leaving ways to use it for the next bit, and preserving a local curvature of such-and-such -- could consistently produce nests with no knowledge of the overall shape its procedure leads toSrap Tasmaner

    The fact is that birds are subjectively experiencing in relatively intention-rich ways - anyone who has closely observed nature absolutely can't deny this (that's why birdwatching is an entertaining hobby) - and a bird has experienced living in a nest its whole life. So not just biochemical and physiological drive predispose a bird for nest construction, but also years of perceiving what a nest's structure and function is. A bird has got to be as familiar with its nest as we are with our houses, a hybrid of memories, proprioception, exteroception and qualia in general.

    Natural selection is a partial cause in the origins and development of a behavior, so it holds explanational weight, but experience is also an integral cause regardless of how we manage to explain it. Natural selection has to act on something more immediate than phenotypic evolution over thousands of generations or missing links for complex brains/behaviors wouldn't exist, and that entity is the perpetually sustained modularity of consciousness. I find it impossible that a bird has no sense for how the properties of what it is doing fit together, that is the implausible perspective, or else why would it independently choose to build its nest in a particular location, at a particular time of year, according to an extremely selective template of materials, etc. - in conjunction with such diverse contexts? Doesn't mean its awareness and motivation are precisely analogous to the human variety, but seems to me that independent, spontaneous, complex choice is an unmistakable sign of basic logic or 'protologic', the perceived/intuited bifurcation of substance, which admittedly is somewhat anthrocentrically expressed when calling it 'part/whole' dichotomy, as if humanlike generalization. But every idea is at least slightly anthrocentric, and in this case I think negligibly so.

    The biological boundary between the logic of hardwired perceptual awareness, extremely widespread, and the somewhat more rarified logic of conceptual plasticity is interesting to consider. At what point or in what contexts is qualitative consciousness present but almost completely reflexive? I think it is obvious that the dividing line resides far below cognitive faculties of birds.
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