Re: virus: Rationality

Dave Pape (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 23:55:38 GMT

At 11:20 24/02/97 GMT, Drakir wrote:

>So if we model memes as atoms then they build molecules, which build
>cells which build creatures?

This is one of my favourite images- that ideas emerge when two other ideas
are associated together, meaning that most of our concepts are in fact
metacellular, are made up from the interaction of many other ideas. Like
your body is actually a colony of cells, only it's a very highly organised one.

>I must point out that at the moment I'm more inclined towards the idea
>that rationality and logic are /not/ memes, but I wouldn't be asking
>if I were at all sure :)

Now then, I'm talking about LOGIC here, as in, Formal Logic. When you're
being taught Logic, you answer questions, and do exercises, and are rewarded
when your answers are deemed "right" according to the rules of Logic, and
(maybe) chastised for answers deemed "wrong". In this way you are "taught to
know the rules of logic."

I'd say that the ideas corresponding to "examples of logic problems" are
transmitted to you, until you have meta-memes firmly established which, when
you see new examples similar in form to the ones you've learnt about, you
can produce output which is reliably (more or less) deemed "right" according
to the rules of Logic. These meta-memes are your knowledge of the rules of

I reckon brains are non-logical processors that can be trained to simulate
logical processing to some degree sometimes.

Similarly, when you learn to shoot moving targets with a shotgun, your brain
is taught, by repeated trials with reward/punishment schedules, to simulate
the processing that Patriot missile launchers (almost) do with highly
structured maths. Your nervous system doesn't calculate trajectories of
anything as such, you don't feel the numbers fly through your mind, you
don't sense the trigonometry and the integration maths being done, and I'd
argue that it ISN'T done... what happens is a process of ideas (here, mainly
patterns of perceptions and motor actions) interacting, from which the
overall shooting movement emerges.

>I've just realised that this is far more complex than I originally thought.

Woo. Especially the difference between the meme "this is a thing called
rationality" and the PROCESS of rationality. I'm trying to argue that the
process of rationality is carried out by a non-rational computing device,
whose outputs are selected by evolutionary pressures, or the pressures of
reward and punishment, so that they APPEAR rational.

This is what I'd argue against David MacFadzean's examples of animals
behaving rationally: that there's a constant evolutionary pressure to
produce nervous syetems which, with no logical/rational processing, choose
food over hunger, make fine-grained decisions about whether to get into a
fight or not, and so on.

Those animals, /those animals' nervous systems/, aren't rational. Their
behaviour LOOKS rational, looks reasoned, looks as though it could have been
logically decided on. But I don't think it is.

Dave Pape
Limit the Fun. Prescribe the Fun. DESTROY THE FUN!
-(Southport & Formby Round Table Association slogan, 1994-1995)

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