Archive | April, 2014

Concepts and Survival

27 Apr

This can get a bit abstract.

If you don’t believe in evolution it is hard to discern its survival value.

If you do believe in evolution it is still a bit difficult to follow.

Here it is.

If evolution is a fact of the universe then we humans cannot possibly be the pinnacle of it.

We can only be the last step we have encountered — At best.

Unless you are irrational, and note I did not say anything about intelligence. Many very intelligent people are irrational. If you don’t believe me check out the number of Mensa members in prison.
You would think a person that smart would either not commit crimes or be smart enough to only choose those to do those they could get away with.

Not so.

Highly intelligent people believe things that are highly irrational all the time. A good place to start would be with Aristotle. He believed things about Women and Deaf People that no one could possibly accept today. Things he could easily have discovered were wrong at the time, such as the number of teeth a woman has.

If you believe in evolution you HAVE to accept at the very least that it is possible humans are the next step in evolution, not the last step.

As species have evolved so have their concepts.

Many people consider the praying mantis as evil. She turns her head around and eats her mate while he is impregnating her. Many people consider rats vile because they eat their own, and other rats, turds.

Yet it is difficult to conceive of the mantis as having any other concept than an overwhelming desire to eat the thing upon her back. And it is just as difficult to conceive of the rat as having any other concept than a desire to eat the turd it finds in its path.

I am unaware of the survival value of a mantis eating its mate. But the survival value of a rat eating rat turds has been demonstrated. They provide nutrients the rat desperately needs but cannot get any other way.

Concepts change according to the needs and abilities of the species or subspecies involved.

The dodo did not change its concept of complete safety fast enough to save its species from the predatory humans. The humans in their joy of killing easy prey did not change their concept from hunter to farmer in time to save the dodo as a unique and viable farm animal in time to save the species. Perhaps because of their profession. They were sailors. Farmers would have instantly seen the potential and the military mind, ever alert that an army travels on its stomach, would have been very apt to have seen the potential of the dodo as a tame food source that should be protected.

I submit that every concept every creature has survival value. Species change their concepts as they are able too when the old concepts cease to have survival value and new ones are needed.

One notable example are otters. They were originally monogamous. When hunted to virtual extinction they became polygamous. This is not a simple evolutionary adaptation in form, it is an evolutionary concept in concept.

The evolution of humanity has been more in the evolution of its concepts than in its physical form.
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Manipulating Concepts

20 Apr

Let us draw a Concept Line™ for manipulating concepts.

At the far end we start with imagination. Without the use of imagination no manipulation of any concept is possible. It is possible, without words or questions, to manipulate a concept. To prove this we picture clouds in our mind. Clouds are a concept. Now we add wind. Wind is also a concept. Allow the wind to freely blow the clouds around that you have in your mind. Or if you prefer you can picture a stream. Allow your mind to freely picture birds, fish, or anything else to intrude upon your stream.

A unicorn perhaps.

Once we add imagination we next need the most useful ingredient of imagination. Play. Without a sense of play, humor, and fun, imagination is useless.

We start with sensory experience.
Sensory experience becomes memory.
Imagination is the ability to manipulate memory.

You can recall an experience as emotional, visual, auditory, etc as accurately as possible.

You can subtract from the remembered experience.
For example you can remember a physically or emotionally painful experience and cut yourself off from feeling (reliving) the actual pain.
You can picture a house with no walls, only a roof to give shade even if you have never seen such a thing.
You can picture a city with no people. You can picture a pigmy horse.

You can add to remembered experience.
You can picture a bean stalk a thousand foot tall. You can look at a puddle and conceive of an ocean even if you have never seen or heard of one. You can imagine a giant.

You can combine remembered experiences.

Thus:
That which you perceive of reality is your raw material.
Your imagination is the tool whereby you can manipulate, explore, and understand the material you have gained.
The only limits too your manipulation of this material are those things you believe to be true and explore no further. Even if what you believe to be true is true, you are still limiting yourself if you do not question it. You thus prevent yourself from discovering any deeper truths it may contain.

A true Map Thinker™ rejects all limits to thinking freely.
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The Evolution on Concepts

6 Apr

The concept of a claw hammer did not just pop into the human mind from out of non-existence.

First was the concept of a rock.

Somewhere someone realized you could pound with a rock. Perhaps this person broke nuts open with a rock.
The first stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Somewhere someone threw a rock at something. Perhaps it was a nut in a tree. Trying to knock it down.
The first stage of the concept of a rocket was born.

Somewhere someone used a stick. Perhaps it was to dig beetles out of the ground.
The first stages of the concept of a fork and a spear were born.

Somewhere someone put a rock on the end of a stick.
The second stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Just as humanity evolved as a species so did humanities concepts.

And here is a crucial fact:
Every concept humanity has ever developed has survival value.
I have never found a single concept that did not have survival value at the time it was conceived. Some of those concepts have had counter survival value when circumstances changed and select humans refused to revise their concepts. But every human concept has survival value in the right circumstances.

I state that concepts evolve.
This is easily demonstrated. Scientific concepts show a clear path of evolution.

Other creatures also have concepts.
Look at dogs and cats. They both have a concept of what is food and what is not food. They share a concept of humanity as a source of food and shelter.
Obviously there was a time when humans were not sources of food and shelter for either dogs or cats. At that time dogs and cats would not have this concept of humans. This concept had to grow over time.
This simple demonstration shows not only that animals do have concepts but also shows that their concepts also evolve.
In this we are not alone.

We can look at a bug as having a concept of what food is. Of what a predator is. In the case of ants and bees they must have some concept of home and community. Perhaps nothing like we humans have, but something that suffices.

It can be said that certain plants, those that turn their leaves or flowers toward the sun as it passes, have some rudimentary concept of pleasure if nothing else. It might be nothing more than warmth.

Each creature has exactly the number, or set (if you will) of concepts that it needs to survive.

The Concept Line™ starts at the vaguest sensory awareness.
A plant has, through warmth, light, or some other means, a sensory awareness of the sun. We know this because so many plants visibly react to the sun.
Whether the plant has any sensory memory of the sun when it is not present is something we cannot determine with any current or proposed technology I am aware of. However it has been demonstrated that plants discharge measurable energy when in the presence of someone who has abused them, say torn off their limbs.
Thus we can contend that plants have a rudimentary concept of pain and pleasure.

Moving along the concept line we can show that insects have a rudimentary concept of food and predator.
We know this simply because any bug will go after that which it considers food, be it a leaf or another bug, and will avoid, and or fight, those things that will in turn eat them.

Many fish live in schools. Some insects live in hives. This indicates a rudimentary sense of community.
Primates go so far as to show complex social structure and even politics.

Humanities concepts have not only evolved, but can be traced through anthropology.

Even more interestingly the human evolution of concepts can be demonstrated in its children. A baby has the most minimum concepts possible for a human being to have. As the child develops physical abilities and experience more concepts develop. For example babies are not born with depth perception, it develops later, and even then it takes time and experience for a child to judge exactly how far away an object is. Then even more time to judge how much time it will take the object, say a car, to reach them at a given speed.

However having a concept is not sufficient.

In fact having a concept, in and of itself, is only a survival mechanism only up to a point in the evolutionary ladder.
At some point what is done with concepts is more important than having concepts.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I say the unexamined concept is not worth having.

So at the far end of our Concept Line™ , not at the very end, we mark a point at which concepts are not simply held, they are manipulated.

 

 

 
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