RE: virus: Logic

Richard Brodie (
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 11:37:34 -0700

On Tuesday, October 7, 1997 10:31 AM, David McFadzean
[] wrote:
> At 09:33 PM 10/6/97 -0700, Richard Brodie wrote:
> >> So computers, animals, and other intentional agents
> >> behave in a parational manner if and only if they
> >> behave in such a way that it seems as if they are
> >> thinking in a logical manner.
> >
> >Seems to who and who cares?
> 'Seems to who' is a good question, worth pursuing.
> Who cares? Anyone who cares to understand the world
> and create the future.

Well, I approve of your underlying motivation if you are sincere in
parroting my words back to me. Now think: how does labeling animal behavior
with a neologism accomplish that?

> >Most people don't use, understand, or care about logic. People get
> >feelings when situations match up with their past. Those feelings guide
> >them to act, withdraw, rage, and so on.
> You are confusing logic with formal logic, which I concede is mostly
> my fault for not being clear in the past. People do use, understand
> and care about logic whenever they use or think with "if", "or", "not"
> and "and". Even when they act on instinct or emotion, they are using
> logic on another level, what I term "parational". Their instincts and
> emotions evolved in they way that they have precisely because they
> emulate logical thinking.

You are collapsing (at least) two concepts in your effort to believe that
rationality and logic are the answer to all the questions of philosophy. In
the first place, animal behavior is largely hardwired as the result of
evolution in an ancestral environment. That behavior, most biologists
agree, is "designed" to replicate genes stored in DNA in cell nuclei. If it
looks "logical" to you that is solely an anthropomorphism, because I
challenge you to find a cat that can beat you on an IQ test. It is possible
that certain higher animals may be said to have some logical capacity, such
as chimps figuring out how to use a tool to get food, but that's a far cry
from "all animal behavior emulates logical thinking." In fact, you could
say that the reason humans have technology and animals don't is that we
alone possess the capacity for logical thinking.

Second, doing what is in your best interest is not the same as logic.
Substitute "self-interest" for "logic" above and you get: Their instincts
and emotions evolved...because they emulate self-interest. Now you're
close! Of course, as Dawkins points out repeatedly, it's not really even
emulated self-interest, it's the competing self-interests of various
replicators, most of which are genes.

Richard Brodie
Author, VIRUS OF THE MIND: The New Science of the Meme
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