Presentation on theme: "The Cupola of Logic in the Unity of Sciences – towards an Evolutionary Epistemology Luís Moniz Pereira Universidade Nova de Lisboa Doctor rerum naturalium."— Presentation transcript:
The Cupola of Logic in the Unity of Sciences – towards an Evolutionary Epistemology Luís Moniz Pereira Universidade Nova de Lisboa Doctor rerum naturalium honoris causa ceremony T.U. Dresden, 4 December 2006 Full text at:
Abstract - We examine a non-traditional approach to unity of sciences, a challenging articulation of views proceeding from Evolutionary Psychology, Logic and Artificial Intelligence. - This amalgam sets forth a consilience stance, wherefore the unity of sciences is heuristically presupposed on grounds of pragmatic and productive default assumptions. - Thus scientific inquiry is conducted, consilience arising from a presumed unity of objective reality, in itself a heuristic and pragmatic conception. - The attending hinges to Artificial Intelligence suggest the emergence of an innovative symbiotic form of evolutionary epistemology.
Consilience Arguments in favour of the unity of knowledge – consilience – have been strongly put by Edward O. Wilson, author of Consilience – The Unity of Knowledge (1998). He postulates there is a single physical nature, one not persuadable through argumentation, whatever deconstructionists may think. Science is not mere convention. Consilience, according to him, is the result of a co-evolution, involving genes and memes (of which more later). Our cultural memes have a genetic support and cannot, in the long run, stand against the genes who guarantee their survival, though such attempts may exist, viz. through genetic manipulation.
Evolution and the Brain The first bipedal primates established the separation between human and other simian. To fathom the abilities of the human brain, it is essential to understand what exactly were the problems our primate ancestors were solving that led them to develop an extraordinarily intricate brain. One cannot look at the modern human brain, with its ability to create science, as if the millions of evolution-years that attuned it had never taken place. Among the problems being solved one spots those of status, territorialism, mating, gregariousness, altruism versus opportunism, the building of artefacts, and the mapping of the external world.
Evolutionary Pscychology Evolutionary Psychology is a consummate example of successful scientific unification, engendered by a deeply significant combination of Philosophy, Psychology, Anthropology, Linguistics, Evolutionary Biology, Neurosciences, and Artificial Intelligence (David Buss, 2005). Evolutionary Psychology has been studying behaviour and brain from an integrated evolutionary perspective, thereby originating some extremely relevant contributions. It has been strongly supported by Anthropological Archaeology, with its empirical studies in the cultural evolution of mankind (Stephen Shennan, 2002).
Genes and Memes Humans exhibit two reproductive mechanisms: one is sexual reproduction, the other mental reproduction. Authors from Evolutionary Psychology have construed the notion of meme, in complement and contrast to that of gene. Memes substantiate the reproductive system executed in the brain. They are mental units that complement the sexually transmitted genes. Memes gather in assemblies, in patterns, like genes gather in chromosomes. Memes are patterned by, say, ideologies, religions, and common sense ideas. Certain memes work together, mutually reinforcing each other. Others not so. Hence correcting (and correctional) mechanisms may be triggered.
Science Memes In this view, scientific thought emerges from distributed memetic interaction, albeit it at a spacial and temporal distance, never in an isolated way. It is erected by confluences, not constructed autonomously. It is engendered by networks, processed in appropriate environments. One, apropos, is Education – where we carry out memetic proliferation. Language is the instrument allowing us to fabricate knowledge together. We may go so far as to state there is no isolated consciousness, that it is distributed by language. Thus one should envisage it out of the single brain and spread throughout culture.
Archaeology Archaeologists, cf. Steven Mithen in The Prehistory of Mind (1996), are amassing evidence that our ancestors began with a generic intelligence, such as we find in apes today. There is a broad discussion – reproduced in the Artificial Intelligence community – whether intelligence is a general functionality or best seen divided into specific ability modules. Mithen argues humans went from a first phase of simple general intelligence, to a second phase of 3 specialized major modules: –one for natural history and naïve physics – Knowledge of Nature –one for Knowledge and Manufacture of Instruments –one for Cultural Artefacts – the rules of living in society
Specialized Modules and General Cupola The specialized intelligences were separately developed and uncommunicating. Only later – in Homo Sapiens with the appearance of spoken language – a cupola module became indispensable to articulate the specific ones. How else can specialized modules globally and synergetically connect, and people – as module envelopes – communicate among themselves? This need originated the generic cupola module, a much more sophisticated form of general intelligence, the cognitive glue bringing the specialized modules, and people, to communicate and cooperate.
The Evolution of Reason: Logic The formal systems of logic have ordinarily been regarded as independent from biology, but recent developments in evolutionary theory suggest that biology and logic are intimately interrelated. William S. Cooper (2001) outlines a theory of rationality in which logic law emerges as an intrinsic aspect of evolutionary biology. This perspective, though unorthodox at present, could change traditional ideas about the reasoning processes. The foundational laws of decision theory, utility theory, induction, and deduction can be reinterpreted as natural consequences of evolutionary processes, ultimately resulting in a unified foundation of an evolutionary science of reason.
Behaviour, Rational Decision, and Games Decision theory is the branch of logic that comes into most immediate contact with the concerns of evolutionary biology. It addresses the rational choices regarding the most reasonable courses of action and behavioural patterns. This makes behaviour an interdisciplinary bridge approachable from both the biological and the logical sides. It is the fulcrum over which evolutionary forces extend their leverage into the realm of logic. On the heels of rational group behaviour, there emerged abstract rule- following social games. Game rules encapsulate concrete situation defining patterns, and concrete causal situation-action-situation sequencing, akin to causality-obeying physical reality.
Games, Logic, and Communication From games further abstraction ensued. There emerged the notions of situation-defining concepts or predications; of general rules of thought chaining; and of legitimate argument and counter-argument game moves (John Holland, 1998). The pervasiveness of informal logic for capturing knowledge and for reasoning, a lingua franca across cultures, rests on its ability to actually foster rational understanding and common objectivity. Objective knowledge evolution dynamics, whether individual or plural, follows ratiocination patterns and laws too.
The Cupola of Logic The human capacity for understanding logical reasoning was developed in the course of brain evolution. Its most powerful expression today is science itself, the ultimate reward for our mastery of language. Indeed, logic provides the overall conceptual cupola that articulates the specific modules identified by evolutionary psychology. It is mirrored by the computational universality of computing machines. These can execute any program, compute any computable function. Hence philosophical functionalism: logic can be implemented on top of a symbol processing system, independently of its physical substrate. Once universality is achieved, abstract creativity bootstraps itself free of its evolutionary roots, to enable arbitrary symbol erector sets with which to model reality.
Our Stance on the Unity of Sciences It appears a materialist heuristic to believe, so to say by default, that the unifying consilience of body and mind will be found. One is entitled to presuppose that the brains we have in common, and received via evolution, are capable of ever extendable joint agreement regarding the scientific view of our shared reality, especially in view of those brains universal plasticity in communication and modelling. This said, one may therefore pragmatically assume that it is the very unity of mind-independent Reality – a presumed given – which is conducive to the unity of the sciences, viz. when Reality is examined in the light of our joint cerebral abilities.
Epistemic Status What is at stake is ultimately a principle of action practice, and of thought practice. The justification for our presuppositions is not evidential. It is practical and instrumentalistic – pragmatic, in short. Procedural or functional efficacy is its crux. Hence, our unity of sciences epistemic status is not that of an empirical discovery, but that of an encompassing presupposition. Its ultimate justification is a transcendental argument from the very possibility of communication and inquiry, as we typically conduct them.
Epistemic Toolkit In some cases, the cognitive tools and instruments of rationality will be found hardware independent. Though there is no universal one-size-fits-all epistemological recipe, agreement can be had on the relative success of any given tool kit. Understanding can be sought by building intelligent machines, functionalism coming to the rescue in positing that the material substrate is often not of the essence. The symbiotic entwining of human and machine being, therefore, the most recent and foreboding step in evolutionary epistemology.
Artificial Epistemology Epistemology will acquire the ability to be shared: with robots, aliens or any other entity that needs cognition to survive and program its future. Creating situated robots means carrying out our own cognitive evolution by new means, thereby engendering symbiotic, co-evolving, and self- accelerating loops. Computers can reify our scientific theories, making them objective, repeatable, and part of a commonly constructed extended reality, built upon multi-disciplinary unified science. Artificial Intelligence and the Cognitive Sciences provide highly stimulating steps towards furthering Sciences Unity, through the very effort of that construction.
References David M. Buss, editor (2005), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology John Wiley, William S. Cooper (2001), The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology Cambridge U.P., John Holland (1998), Emergence – From Chaos to Order, Addison-Wesley, Steven Mithen (1996), The Prehistory of Mind, Thames & Hudson, Stephen Shennan (2002), Genes, Memes and Human History – Darwinian Archaeology and Cultural Evolution, Thames & Hudson, Edward O. Wilson (1998), Consilience – The Unity of Knowledge Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.