Readers may remember philosopher Justin Smith, who thinks that we can understand life better if we “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”
Material states of the brain can, of course, influence our power of reason—an ounce of whiskey can have quite an effect on our judgment—but the power of reason itself is immaterial. It cannot “evolve” because natural selection, whatever its worth as a scientific hypothesis, needs matter to act on.
[Smith:] “Reason is exceedingly rare, a hapax legomenon of nature, and yet this rarity has led to a bind: when pushed to account for its origins, thinkers who champion reason’s human-exclusivity are forced to lean on supernaturalism, while those who contend that reason is a fundamentally natural property have then to concede that ‘lower’ lifeforms are capable of exercising it. The question is – how?”
Reason isn’t rare at all. 7.7 billion people do it every day. But no non-human animal does it. This immaterial power of the soul is precisely what makes man qualitatively different from every other living thing. And I am not “forced to lean on supernaturalism” by pointing this out. I’m merely making an observation that’s obvious to all. Man, and man alone, has the power to reason. Michael Egnor, “An atheist argues against reason” at Mind Matters News
Egnor’s words remind us that pop science media made strenuous efforts recently to convince the world that paper wasps reason:
The researchers clearly dissociate themselves from a claim that wasps reason. “We’re not saying that wasps used logical deduction to solve this problem…” But the media ignored the hint, as they might be expected to do. …
Elite media behave the same way as tabloids: Whereas the media release says, “The study by Tibbetts and her colleagues illustrates that paper wasps can build and manipulate an implicit hierarchy. But it makes no claims about the precise mechanisms that underlie this ability,” the Smithsonian Magazine headline is Wasps Are the First Invertebrates to Pass This Basic Logic Test (May 10, 2019). Denyse O’Leary, “Wasps can reason? Science media say yes, researchers no” at Mind Matters News
Legacy media are collapsing because their passion is enforcing a “narrative,” not in informing an audience about what is really happening.
If science writers need to believe that wasps reason (or that people don’t), that’s what you will be hearing from them.
Meanwhile, the facts are becoming more and more obvious. Stay tuned.
See also: Philosopher eliminates human exceptionality by dethroning reason
Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will
The brain is not a meat computer Dramatic recoveries from brain injury highlight the difference
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