|Proposal: The foundation of reason
||[Mar. 5th, 2006|12:42 am]
I've recently been thinking about the evolution of humans and the development of our ability to reason.
Ryan and I have talked about this in the past, and, to his credit, thought of the evolution of the uses for the frontal lobe (and the cerebrum in general). The other day, in philosophy club, a fellow named Matthew and myself discussed this issue further and came to a few conclusions.
The development of memory and reasoning
What evolutionary purpose did memory serve originally? We speculated that memory allowed primitive man access to his past - at will, even. This was a huge progression from the animal brains that could only be conditioned and had very simple past-data, such as basic recognition.
Now, it is important to note that the development of memory had to precede the development of the ability to reason. This is because reason cannot function without having data to refer to in the first place.
Basically, reason affords us the power to predict the future. We can use deduction and induction (and abduction: reasoning to the best explanation) due to the very fact that we can both.
1. Remember past events
2. Discover patterns and regularities
We use the knowledge of the sun always coming up to inductively conclude that it will, in fact, come up tomorrow. We use our knowledge of taxonomy to deduce that whales and kittens are both mammals. We utilize our memory to conclude what is most likely the cause of some event.
The basic idea is, to reiterate, that memory came first, then the ability to reason.
Why did these even develop at all, though?
The evolutionary benefit of reasoning
The purpose for these developments is, naturally, hunting!
The power to remember what the elk did last time you were hunting it, coupled with the ability to assume this knowledge will apply in future cases, afforded primitive man a HUGE advantage over his prey.
The rest is history.
The application of primitive reasoning for modern humans
What do we use memory and reasoning for these days? Science, engineering, philosophy, art, etc.
Is it just a coincidence that our hunting advantage now applies to much more abstract ideas and concepts?
I think not. Perhaps our ability to predict the weather, solve differential equations and program in Java are nothing more than a figurative "hunt."
Does this mean that there must be some kind of "prey" that we're after? Or is it just that we would gain pride and superiority from a successful hunt and, therefore, we now try to get these same things from our daily "modern" hunting?
This is a napkin philosophy proposal because I wish to develop this theory. The future work for this is:
1. Formalize it using either mathematical modeling, logic, or some other format
2. Correct errors to insure that it is, in fact, correct - and not missing any important details
3. The role of primitive women and how that applies today