Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ideas have Consequences, Especially this One

If we invert the materialist's cosmos, then what we see as evolution is the consequence of a prior involution. The wiki article on the subject points out that involution "refers to different things depending on the writer." That's not good. We need to specify what we mean, because it is a critical concept.

"In some instances it refers to a process that occurs prior to evolution and gives rise to the cosmos, in others an aspect of evolution, and still others a process that follows the completion of evolution in the human form."

In skimming the wiki article, I don't see anything that exactly coincides with my view -- perhaps because I've never actually explicitly thought it through, or at least written it out in plain english. (I have, however, described it in unglish in the Cosmonaught section of the book.)

Rather, for me it is a strong intuition; not only does it make sense, but perhaps more importantly, without it, nothing makes sense. It is a unifying concept. A heuristic. In this regard, it is somewhat analogous to God. Remove God and not only is there no meaning, but there is no possibility of meaning. Nothing makes sense because only Nothing Is.

This line of thought was inspired by something Mitchell says about artificial intelligence. She points out that there are several things human intelligence readily accomplishes, but which artificial intelligence can't. Each of these goes to the very nature of humanness, and has no scientific explanation.

For example, computers cannot make analogies, which "is the ability to perceive abstract similarity between two things in the face of superficial differences." But "this ability pervades every aspect of what we call intelligence."

It is also the basis of much humor. Siri can retrieve jokes. But could she invent a new one? I hear my son watching the Simpsons in the background. Homer gazes upon the Grand Canyon, and says something like, "And people say we're running out of space for our trash." The joke is based on the unexpected analogy between the Grand Canyon and a landfill.

Nor do computers have "sensitivity to context." It minds me of a Get Smart episode, when the Chief tells Hymie the robot to knock it off. In another episode Max tells him to "hit the light," and he proceeds to smash a lightbulb.

Another thing computers cannot do is describe a picture. This is because they cannot see holistically, only atomistically. For a computer, the sum cannot be greater than its parts.

But perhaps the most important deficit is the inability to perceive universals. This is truly one of the things that defines human intelligence. For Aquinas, it is the first act of the mind, the thing we must do before we can properly can think at all. A five year-old can do this with ease -- for example, see that the dog is a dog, i.e., part of a larger category of universal dogginess.

Now, the modern view appears to be that there is no such thing as universals. This is the consequential idea Richard Weaver writes about in his Ideas have Consequences. Yes, ideas have consequences, but perhaps the most consequential idea of all is that they do -- i.e., that ideas are ontologically real.

You might say that ideas have consequences, especially this one! Can a computer understand this? No, because a computer is confined to its own program, and can never take a perspective from outside or beyond itself. A computer is always in the loop. But humans routinely escape from the loop, a la Gödel. How?

Above I said that my intuition tells me that involution is a key concept for understanding reality. And now my intuition is telling me that there is a strong relationship between involution and universals. What could it be?

I guess we'll have to find out tomorrow, because I'm really out of time.

26 Comments:

Blogger Allena said...

"You might say that ideas have consequences, especially this one! Can a computer understand this? No, because a computer is confined to its own program, and can never take a perspective from outside or beyond itself. A computer is always in the loop. But humans routinely escape from the loop, a la Gödel. How?"

Then there is the left, which is firmly ensconced in fruit loops. I suppose that could be defined as artificial but not intelligence.

8/11/2016 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Verily, if you say "there is no God," you have just proved his existence.

8/11/2016 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Allena said...

"Now, the modern view appears to be that there is no such thing as universals. This is the consequential idea Richard Weaver writes about in his Ideas have Consequences. Yes, ideas have consequences, but perhaps the most consequential idea of all is that they do -- i.e., that ideas are ontologically real."

Consequently, bad ideas will make reality worse but never better.

8/11/2016 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Allena said...

I always liked that word, verily.
Verily, with election season nigh over, beer O'clock doth not end.
Or as I like to say: It's beer O'clock somewhere.

8/11/2016 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Muhammad said...

Verily, using verily a lot worked for me.

8/11/2016 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

That's why I never understood how a machine could beat the Turing test (unless culture devolved enough to meet the machine).

8/11/2016 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A computer could asymptotically simulate passage of the Turing Test, but never truly transcend itself. Then again, most liberals can't pass it either.

8/11/2016 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Anybody ever read this book, SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police? Looks quite insultaining to me, like a unified field theory of asshattery. I don't think I can resist.

8/11/2016 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I haven't read it, but probably should. I do read his blog; don't always agree with him, but he does have an interesting take on things. JWM comments there sometimes.

8/11/2016 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I just started perusing the free e-book in his sidebar called The Irrational Atheist. Wordy.

In this day and age, with so much information out there, you owe it to your reader to get to the point and ruthlessly omit unnecessary verbiage.

8/11/2016 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I haven't read that one, either. I get the impression he does a decent job of debating atheists, but when he starts talking about matters religious I start to tune out. Definitely too wordy.

He's good on arguing & debating, though.

8/11/2016 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's one reason I love Schuon's style. One person said it was "spherical," in that a sphere encloses the maximum volume with the least surface area, or something like that.

8/11/2016 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

That's why I like what Prager U is doing. Those 5 minute videos often go viral, and pack a lot of punch for online audiences (who an inundated with content and will rarely peruse a book).

8/11/2016 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"JWM comments there sometimes."

I do occasionally. Offered this last night:

"Open borders is the greatest thing since sliced bread every day of the year except one:
Columbus Day"

8/11/2016 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ann Kellett said...

Vox Day's SJW book is excellent. And you are something of kindred spirits, both featured at neoreactionary.blogspot.com. (He is at the Vox Popoli blog.)

8/11/2016 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That website is a little forbidding. Too much good stuff.

8/11/2016 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick, that's a good one.

8/11/2016 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks

8/11/2016 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Dwaine Robertson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/11/2016 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dwaine Robertson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/11/2016 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Rick. Yes, that was good.

8/12/2016 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thank you, John.
I'd get that tattooed but I can't even commit to Twitter.

8/12/2016 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

For humans,This is of critical importance:

"But perhaps the most important deficit is the inability to perceive universals. This is truly one of the things that defines human intelligence. For Aquinas, it is the first act of the mind, the thing we must do before we can properly can think at all. A five year-old can do this with ease -- for example, see that the dog is a dog, i.e., part of a larger category of universal dogginess."

, and for the inhuman, the means of getting that out of the way, is by either denying, or simply ignoring, this:

"Nor do computers have "sensitivity to context.""

Do that, and all lies are possible.

8/12/2016 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

As always, whenever an A.I. enthusiast tells me of the latest breakthroughs, or coming advances, I ask them to show me a mistake their little wunderchip has made.

Without the ability to make an error, they have no more ability to think, than a calculator does. Sure it can do impressive stuff, and much of it very useful, but in every other way it is truly meaningless.

8/12/2016 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good point. We also learn from our mistakes, which is like using entropy for the purposes of negentropy.

8/12/2016 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Yep. If you can't be wrong, you don't have what it takes to be right.

8/12/2016 01:25:00 PM  

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