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Philosopher eliminates human exceptionality by ejecting reason

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Justin E. H. Smith of Concordia University hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception”:

He is unusually frank in explaining why he finds that an attractive (or even tenable) idea:

“In answering the where question of reason in this maximally broad way, we are able to preserve the naturalism that philosophy and cognitive science insist upon today, while dispensing with the human-exclusivity of reason. And all the better, since faith in the strange idea that reason appears exactly once in nature, in one particular species and nowhere else, seems, on reflection, to be itself a vestige of pre-scientific supernaturalism.”

He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”

But what if philosophy and cognitive science are so wrong in this matter that they are leading Smith and the rest of us into absurdities? Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor comments. Denyse O’Leary, “Philosopher argues, human reason is inferior to animal reactions” at Mind Matters News

See also: The real reason why only human beings speak. (Michael Egnor) Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly

Do big brains matter to human intelligence? We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point.

Tales of an invented god: The most important characteristic of an AI cult is that its gods (Godbots?) will be created by the AI developers and not the other way around

and

Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug Another approach to dethroning reason is to claim that everything is conscious, a surprisingly popular view among naturalists.

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12 Replies to “Philosopher eliminates human exceptionality by ejecting reason

  1. 1
    Brother Brian says:

    I have myopia, hemorrhoids, scoliosis, psoriasis, arthritis and receding gum lines. I don’t feel very “exceptional”. 🙂 but I still have a full head of hair. Oh, wait. I forgot. Dandruff.

  2. 2
    Nonlin.org says:

    Who reads this kind of nonsense? Do you, News?

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo………………..They reasons reasoning is unreasonable to animal reaction using reason which is more reasonable……….. he is a Philosopher 🙁 I quit

  4. 4
    vmahuna says:

    I read a whole lot about the history of political ideas, and a campaign to force people to accept the idea that nothing actually makes objective sense would have found any number of supporters in 19th century France. But it must confuse the hell out of math majors and aerospace engineers.
    And from a medical point of view, if you’re sitting across from a man in your examination room who insists it’s impossible to be “rational”, I think the doctor is gonna start making arrangements to send him to the psycho ward.
    I spend a good part of most days babysitting my 4 year old grandson. It is a wonderful time, and although he may not have all his facts straight (well, there COULD BE a monster behind the chair…), he is nothing if not Rational. After all, he’s trying VERY hard to make SENSE of the world he’s still discovering. I think that’s one of the things that is hardwired into all baby humans: an urgent need to discover and understand the world. And that discovery and understanding would of course be impossible if nothing is rational.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    So he takes us through his reasoning for why he thinks that all human reasoning is invalid?

    But,,, But,, Oh nevermind!

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Including his own rationality?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    As the philosopher in the OP made clear, naturalism commits epistemological suicide when it denies the reality of reason.

    Of related interest to this, C.S. Lewis, in his ‘argument from reason’, once made this interesting comment, “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins.”

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    “Unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins” is NOT a minor claim for CS Lewis to have made.

    And again C.S. Lewis reiterated his claim that ‘reason must be absolute’ this way, “Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends. Our acts of inference are prior to our picture of Nature almost as the telephone is prior to the friend’s voice we hear by it.”

    THE ARGUMENT FROM REASON – John M. DePoe
    Excerpt: (CS) Lewis closes the third chapter of Miracles with this conclusion:
    Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends. Our acts of inference are prior to our picture of Nature almost as the telephone is prior to the friend’s voice we hear by it. When we try to fit these acts into the picture of nature we fail. The item which we put into that picture and label “Reason” always turns out to be somehow different from the reason we ourselves are enjoying and exercising as we put it in. [. . .] But the imagined thinking which we put into the picture depends—because our whole idea of Nature depends—on thinking we actually doing, not vice versa. This is the prime reality, on which the attribution of reality to anything else rests. If it won’t fit into Nature, we can’t help it. We will certainly not, on that account, give it up. If we do, we should be giving up Nature too.
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/w.....Reason.pdf

    And again “Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends” is NOT a minor claim for C.S. Lewis to have made.

    C.S. Lewis, through reason itself, was able to show that ‘reason must be absolute’ and that “Reason (must be) given before Nature”.

    What C.S. Lewis was not able to do during his day was to show, empirically, through scientific experimentation, that “Reason (must be) given before Nature”.

    In other words, C.S. Lewis, in his day, was not able to offer experimental confirmation for his philosophical claim that reason must be absolute and prior to nature.

    Yet, recent advances in quantum mechanics have now empirically validated C.S. Lewis’s philosophical claim that ‘reason must be absolute’ and that “Reason (must be) given before Nature”.

    In short, our ability to reason rationally presupposes our ability to make free will choices between rational options.

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    That is to say that our ability to reason in a coherent fashion is absolutely dependent on our having free will.

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    And now, as of 2018, free will has been shown to a integral part of quantum mechanics. Specifically, in 2018 Anton Zeilinger and company have pushed the ‘free will loophole’ back to 7.8 billion years ago, thereby firmly establishing the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: In this Letter, we present a cosmic Bell experiment with polarization-entangled photons, in which measurement settings were determined based on real-time measurements of the wavelength of photons from high-redshift quasars, whose light was emitted billions of years ago; the experiment simultaneously ensures locality. Assuming fair sampling for all detected photons and that the wavelength of the quasar photons had not been selectively altered or previewed between emission and detection, we observe statistically significant violation of Bell’s inequality by 9.3 standard deviations, corresponding to an estimated p value of ? 7.4 × 10^21. This experiment pushes back to at least ? 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Just how counter-intuitive this ‘free will’ aspect of quantum mechanics is to naturalistic presuppositions is touched upon by Anton Zeilinger in the following video. Specifically Zeilinger states, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    As well, with contextuality we find that, “In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation”

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    Thus in conclusion. C.S. Lewis’s philosophical “argument from reason”, specifically his claim that ‘reason must be absolute’ and that “Reason (must be) given before Nature”, is now empirically validated by recent advances in quantum mechanics that have confirmed the validity of free will as being ‘prior to’ reality.

    Verse and quote:

    John 1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”
    https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html

  8. 8
    Fasteddious says:

    Maybe I’m unexceptional or just irrational, but it seems rather simple to me:
    1. Human’s aren’t the only rational creatures. Dogs, octopuses, dolphins, crows and other higher-intelligence species can figure out puzzles involving food well enough, thereby behaving rationally to some degree. Humans just take rationality to a much higher level. Part of that is education and cultural transmission of knowledge, which other species are not as good at. So no, humans are not an exception in being rational, we are simply exceptionally rational.
    2. With the data we currently have available to us, it is clear (I hope) that humans are the most rational creatures we know of, even if we often act irrationally. If someone wants to posit a hypothetical ET species that is equally or more rational, I say, “show me the evidence”. A hypothesis without evidence is just an empty proposition. And arguing a “statistical near certainty” is mere bluff without evidence.

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    I both agree and disagree with you I think that has more to do with your definition of rationality and intelligence, They do kind of go hand-in-hand but there is a little bit of a difference.

    Animals have very different types of intelligence as well as different levels of intelligence

    But without having to go into the incredible amount of differences between our intelligence and rationality and other species on this planet I say this.

    Of everything that was mentioned above we are the only ones having this conversation about the intelligence of all of the creatures on the planet and their possession of rationality

    And as to the fact that I do like your suggestion for anybody that says we don’t know whether or not they are having a rational discussion about whether or not we are intelligent I would simply ask you show me the evidence of this

    But the argument about whether we are exceptional or not almost seems silly to me because at the end of the day no matter what your take is:

    Whether we are uniquely different or we’re just differ in degrees

    We are still exceptional because either we are uniquely intelligent beyond anything on this planet

    Or

    We are the most intelligent and rational creatures on this planet beyond anything else

    Either one makes us exceptional whether you want to climb a ladder to get to our intelligence or make a jump

    We are, as a species, the apex, Not just a predator but in almost every category.

    Yes there are animals that can do things we can’t do naturally, but that’s the thing, there’s no species that can copy every single other species on this planet by figuring out how they do it and replicating it like we do

    By degree there are a few species that do mimic

    But none of them have created a jet that flies entire colonies of people around because we wanted to fly like a bird. And our fascination with a crows ability to make a single tool to pick a lock seems silly in comparison to our ability to build a robotic arm to build a car. I guess we’re just used to our ability to create things and a pass that knowledge on

    What makes us so special as we are perfectly aware of what makes everything else special and anything they can do we can actually figure out how to do and even do it better.

    We are dangerous species we are also capable of being the most beneficial to the entire world but we are also capable of being the most dangerous

    I would really just like it if we tried to be good stewards two or one little marble in space

    Which means respecting everything and taking care of it

  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    “To our one little marble”
    I used talk text To write that last message.
    It’s so easy to use but it sucks so much

  11. 11
    ScuzzaMan says:

    It goes wrong at the very beginning:
    artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”)
    … and only gets worse after that.
    But this is miserably false; the absence of life is a statistical near-certainty, and even if you accept for sake of argument the age of the universe at approximately 15 billion years (I don’t but that’s another story) and you have available every atom in the universe to randomly combine in interesting ways, you’re still an infinitesimally tiny fraction of the way through all the possible combinations, only a few dozens of which are actually useful for life as we know it.
    This presumption, that there must be alien life “out there” somewhere, is based on the assumption that we evolved by random chance. But as we know, we did not, for the simple reason that evolution by random chance is not even possible. No amount of statistical legerdemain can make the impossible possible. It matters not how many particles you have available, over what period of time – the impossible never becomes possible.
    Once you get over the automatic unreasoning presumption that darwinian evolution is true, then all these kinds of opening statements (in reality, claims about reality) appear starkly remarkable in their obvious falsity.

  12. 12
    ScuzzaMan says:

    This is also remarkably stupid and self-defeating:

    will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception

    Apart from the obvious self-contradiction of someone trying to use logic and reason to convince us that he’s not rational, I was strongly reminded of Pope’s Essay on Man:

    Shall he alone, whom rational we call,
    Be pleas’d with nothing, if not bless’d with all?

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