måndag 11 november 2013

Steven Pinker - How The Mind Works

Jag har i höst underhållit mig med att läsa Steven Pinkers "How the mind works". Efter 520 sidor så var det äntligen dags, det sista kapitlet bar titeln 'The meaning of life'. Den som väntar på något gott...

"But there is something peculiarly holistic and everywhere-at-once and nowhere-at-all and all-at-the-same-time about the problems of philosophy. Sentience in not a combination of brain events or computational states: how a red-sensitive neuron gives rise to the subjective feel of redness is not a whit less mysterious than how the whole brain gives rise to the entire stream of consciousness. The "I" is not a combination of body parts or brain states or bits of information, but a unity of selfness over time, a single locus that is nowhere in particular. Free will is not a causal chain of events and states, by definition. Although the combinatorial aspect of meaning has been worked out (how words or ideas combine into the meanings of sentences or propositions), the core of meaning - the simple act of referring to something - remains a puzzle, because it stands strangely apart from any causal connection between the thing referred to and the person referring. Knowledge, too, throws up the paradox that knowers are acquainted with things that have never impinged upon them. Our thoroughgoing perplexity about the enigmas of consciousness, self, will, and knowledge may come from a mismatch between the very nature of these problems and the computational apparatus that natural selection has fitted us with.

If these conjectures are correct, our psyche would present us with the ultimate tease. The most undeniable thing there is, our own awareness, would be forever out of our conceptual grasp. But if our minds are part of nature, that is to be expected, even welcomed. The natural world evokes our awe by the specialized designs of its creatures and their parts. We don´t poke fun at the eagle for its clumsiness on the ground or fret that the eye is not every good at hearing, because we know that a desing can excel only by compromising at others. Our bafflement at the mysteries of the ages may have been the price we paid for a combinatorial mind that opened up a world of words and sentences, of theories and equations, of poems and melodies, of jokes and stories, the very things that make a mind worth having."

Där de avslutande orden. Väl värda mödan enligt mig. Rekommenderar boken.

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