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The Limits of Intelligence and Rationality
Posted: 25 October 2011 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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“One of the functions of intelligence is to take account of the dangers that come
        from trusting solely to the intelligence.” – Lewis Mumford

Discuss.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:35 AM

While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

What do you think contributes to rationality in addition to intelligence?

Also, are you implying that rationality is independent of intelligence? If so, of what does rationality consist?

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Posted: 25 October 2011 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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factfinder - 25 October 2011 11:35 AM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:35 AM

While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

What do you think contributes to rationality in addition to intelligence?

Also, are you implying that rationality is independent of intelligence? If so, of what does rationality consist?

No, the brain isn’t designed like that. Rationality is a function of our brains, and intelligence is a more general set of functions of our brains. It is certainly possible to have high intelligence and mediocre rationality or vice versa. I think of it as intelligence being a general rating of how we categorize our brains, and rationality is one aspect of that intelligence. To use a baseball analogy, not every great pitcher has a great curveball, but it certainly helps.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 01:50 PM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 11:35 AM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:35 AM

While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

What do you think contributes to rationality in addition to intelligence?

Also, are you implying that rationality is independent of intelligence? If so, of what does rationality consist?

No, the brain isn’t designed like that. Rationality is a function of our brains, and intelligence is a more general set of functions of our brains. It is certainly possible to have high intelligence and mediocre rationality or vice versa. I think of it as intelligence being a general rating of how we categorize our brains, and rationality is one aspect of that intelligence. To use a baseball analogy, not every great pitcher has a great curveball, but it certainly helps.

I like the baseball analogy but you still seem to be saying that rationality and intelligence are not necessarily related or that rationality (the curveball) is just one of many of the functions of intelligence (the pitcher). Of what does rationality consist?

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc. Perhaps the brain is not the originator but rather just the reflector/projector of thought.

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Posted: 25 October 2011 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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factfinder - 25 October 2011 06:04 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 01:50 PM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 11:35 AM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:35 AM

While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

What do you think contributes to rationality in addition to intelligence?

Also, are you implying that rationality is independent of intelligence? If so, of what does rationality consist?

No, the brain isn’t designed like that. Rationality is a function of our brains, and intelligence is a more general set of functions of our brains. It is certainly possible to have high intelligence and mediocre rationality or vice versa. I think of it as intelligence being a general rating of how we categorize our brains, and rationality is one aspect of that intelligence. To use a baseball analogy, not every great pitcher has a great curveball, but it certainly helps.

I like the baseball analogy but you still seem to be saying that rationality and intelligence are not necessarily related or that rationality (the curveball) is just one of many of the functions of intelligence (the pitcher). Of what does rationality consist?

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc. Perhaps the brain is not the originator but rather just the reflector/projector of thought.

I like to try to take a very physical-world approach to such questions. Whether or not the brain is the originator of every thought (probably not, as pleasure and pain can originate from virtually any part of the body and would constitute a ‘thought’) doesn’t matter so much as recognizing that the brain is the central control organ. Rationality and all of those other attributes of intelligence (memory capacity, emotional recognition, sound processing, etc.) really are measurable in most people because of brain structures. From what I’ve seen of my little reading on neuroscience, sometimes there are very specific areas associated with those different forms of intelligence, as revealed by MRI scans. I think that other approaches to such questions, while they may have value, can sometimes distract us from trying to learn about how the stuff actually works; it’s easy to delve into philosophical debates which more often than not revolve around problems with language and symbolism rather than with what rationality and intelligence might be in the physical world.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:56 PM

Whether or not the brain is the originator of every thought (probably not, as pleasure and pain can originate from virtually any part of the body and would constitute a ‘thought’) doesn’t matter so much as recognizing that the brain is the central control organ.

Well, I think this suffers from equivocation over the word “originator”. One sense of “originator” is causal, and another is metaphysical. E.g., what is the ‘originator’ of water? In one sense water originates in the stars and nebulae: they are what caused water to exist. In another sense water originates in H2O; that is, it is metaphysically dependent upon (in this case, identical to) H2O.

When people say that the brain is the originator of every thought they don’t mean that every thought has its causal origins in the brain. Or at least they don’t simply mean this: clearly causation has a long tail and so every thought will of necessity have its origin outside the brain. But the light outside my eyes does not (in your terms) constitute a thought, and neither does the nerve impulse in my finger when I hit it with a hammer. The thought, such as it is, has its origin in (= metaphysical dependence upon) the brain. No brain, no thought.

Put it another way: take away H2O, there is no water, no matter what happens in stars and nebulae. Take away the brain, there is no thought, no matter what happens in external nerve endings. A brainless body has no thoughts, and cannot feel pain, even if it is kept temporarily ‘alive’ on a respirator, etc.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:56 PM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 06:04 PM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 01:50 PM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 11:35 AM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:35 AM

While intelligence can help with rationality, it does not guarantee it.

What do you think contributes to rationality in addition to intelligence?

Also, are you implying that rationality is independent of intelligence? If so, of what does rationality consist?

No, the brain isn’t designed like that. Rationality is a function of our brains, and intelligence is a more general set of functions of our brains. It is certainly possible to have high intelligence and mediocre rationality or vice versa. I think of it as intelligence being a general rating of how we categorize our brains, and rationality is one aspect of that intelligence. To use a baseball analogy, not every great pitcher has a great curveball, but it certainly helps.

I like the baseball analogy but you still seem to be saying that rationality and intelligence are not necessarily related or that rationality (the curveball) is just one of many of the functions of intelligence (the pitcher). Of what does rationality consist?

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc. Perhaps the brain is not the originator but rather just the reflector/projector of thought.

I like to try to take a very physical-world approach to such questions. Whether or not the brain is the originator of every thought (probably not, as pleasure and pain can originate from virtually any part of the body and would constitute a ‘thought’) doesn’t matter so much as recognizing that the brain is the central control organ. Rationality and all of those other attributes of intelligence (memory capacity, emotional recognition, sound processing, etc.) really are measurable in most people because of brain structures. From what I’ve seen of my little reading on neuroscience, sometimes there are very specific areas associated with those different forms of intelligence, as revealed by MRI scans. I think that other approaches to such questions, while they may have value, can sometimes distract us from trying to learn about how the stuff actually works; it’s easy to delve into philosophical debates which more often than not revolve around problems with language and symbolism rather than with what rationality and intelligence might be in the physical world.

Then there are those who born and function at a very high level with virtually no brain at all. Their existence seems to disprove the notions that “the brain is the central control organ” and “Rationality [etc]...are measurable… because of brain structures”. These people have no brain structure to measure.

Have you considered that a part of the brain lighting up for neuroscientists when certain functions are reported does not indicate that the brain is the central control mechanism but rather that the brain could be only a screen passively reflecting what is happening elsewhere? Think of the brain as the movie screen but the movie is being projected from elsewhere. Then there are the questions of the writer, director, cast and plot of the movie and their roles in the production.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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factfinder - 26 October 2011 05:50 AM

Then there are those who born and function at a very high level with virtually no brain at all. Their existence seems to disprove the notions that “the brain is the central control organ” and “Rationality [etc]...are measurable… because of brain structures”. These people have no brain structure to measure.

This already came up in a prior thread, and is incorrect. The people in question had profound disabilities or very low IQ, and had a couple of centimeters of brain material lining the skull cavity, not “virtually no brain”.

factfinder - 26 October 2011 05:50 AM

Have you considered that a part of the brain lighting up for neuroscientists when certain functions are reported does not indicate that the brain is the central control mechanism but rather that the brain could be only a screen passively reflecting what is happening elsewhere? Think of the brain as the movie screen but the movie is being projected from elsewhere. Then there are the questions of the writer, director, cast and plot of the movie and their roles in the production.

Descartes considered this several centuries ago and safe to say it’s a complete nonstarter nowadays. The mind is what the brain does.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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factfinder - 25 October 2011 06:04 PM

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc.

Do you think amputation of your leg would make you less rational?

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Posted: 26 October 2011 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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dougsmith - 26 October 2011 04:10 AM
TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:56 PM

Whether or not the brain is the originator of every thought (probably not, as pleasure and pain can originate from virtually any part of the body and would constitute a ‘thought’) doesn’t matter so much as recognizing that the brain is the central control organ.

Well, I think this suffers from equivocation over the word “originator”. One sense of “originator” is causal, and another is metaphysical. E.g., what is the ‘originator’ of water? In one sense water originates in the stars and nebulae: they are what caused water to exist. In another sense water originates in H2O; that is, it is metaphysically dependent upon (in this case, identical to) H2O.

When people say that the brain is the originator of every thought they don’t mean that every thought has its causal origins in the brain. Or at least they don’t simply mean this: clearly causation has a long tail and so every thought will of necessity have its origin outside the brain. But the light outside my eyes does not (in your terms) constitute a thought, and neither does the nerve impulse in my finger when I hit it with a hammer. The thought, such as it is, has its origin in (= metaphysical dependence upon) the brain. No brain, no thought.

Put it another way: take away H2O, there is no water, no matter what happens in stars and nebulae. Take away the brain, there is no thought, no matter what happens in external nerve endings. A brainless body has no thoughts, and cannot feel pain, even if it is kept temporarily ‘alive’ on a respirator, etc.

Ah, well put. Obviously better than I did.

smile

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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dougsmith - 26 October 2011 06:21 AM
factfinder - 26 October 2011 05:50 AM

Then there are those who born and function at a very high level with virtually no brain at all. Their existence seems to disprove the notions that “the brain is the central control organ” and “Rationality [etc]...are measurable… because of brain structures”. These people have no brain structure to measure.

This already came up in a prior thread, and is incorrect. The people in question had profound disabilities or very low IQ, and had a couple of centimeters of brain material lining the skull cavity, not “virtually no brain”.

Wrong. For example, at the University of Sheffield, neurology professor the late Dr. John Lorber conducted research on one of the mathematics students and noticed that the student’s head was a little larger than normal. Lorber found the student that the student was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however,
Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all.

Second example, Stephan Schwartz reports a conversation where a surgeon got deep into a discussion concerning a young woman who had been brought to the hospital after a terrible car accident. When they had opened her skull to relieve pressure they were sure was there they discovered that in place of her “brain” she had a sack of fluid. Only the brain stem was present. Yet she was a cheerleader, an honors student, and about to go to Smith.

Another interesting thing about Lorber’s findings is that they remind us of the mystery of memory. At first it was thought that memory would have some physical substrate in the brain, like the memory chips in a PC. But extensive investigation of the brain has turned up the surprising fact that memory is not located in any one area or in a specific substrate. As one eminent neurologist put it, ‘memory is everywhere in the brain and nowhere.’ If the brain is not a mechanism for classifying and storing experiences and analysing them to enable us to live our lives then what on earth is the brain for? And where is the seat of human intelligence? Where is the mind?

One of the few biologists to propose a radically novel approach to these questions is Dr Rupert Sheldrake. In his book A New Science of Life Sheldrake rejected the idea that the brain is a warehouse for memories and suggested it is more like a radio receiver for tuning into the past. Memory is not a recording process in which a medium is altered to store records, but a journey that the mind makes into the past via the process of morphic resonance. Such a ‘radio’ receiver would require far fewer and less complex structures than a warehouse capable of storing and retrieving a lifetime of data.

factfinder - 26 October 2011 05:50 AM

Have you considered that a part of the brain lighting up for neuroscientists when certain functions are reported does not indicate that the brain is the central control mechanism but rather that the brain could be only a screen passively reflecting what is happening elsewhere? Think of the brain as the movie screen but the movie is being projected from elsewhere. Then there are the questions of the writer, director, cast and plot of the movie and their roles in the production.

Descartes considered this several centuries ago and safe to say it’s a complete nonstarter nowadays. The mind is what the brain does.

Wrong again. Your denial doesn’t amount to refutation. It is interesting that people who hold your view have to rely on someone whose arguments were flawed and who lived 360 years ago but about whom, Blaise Pascal said that “I cannot forgive Descartes; in all his philosophy, Descartes did his best to dispense with God. But Descartes could not avoid prodding God to set the world in motion with a snap of his lordly fingers; after that, he had no more use for God.”  For more contemporary critiques of Descartes read Descartes’ Error by Antonio R. Damasio and then Molecules and Emotion by Candace Pert, Ph.D.

FYI: You have just committed a gigantic circular error. In trying to “prove” your original point that mind is brain all you have done has deny any other position and represent your own as a conclusion given and proven. Nope. Wrong again. For the third time. Hopelessly inadequate

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George - 26 October 2011 06:33 AM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 06:04 PM

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc.

Do you think amputation of your leg would make you less rational?

There would still be millions of cells to do the job.

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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factfinder - 27 October 2011 06:03 AM

Wrong. For example, at the University of Sheffield, neurology professor the late Dr. John Lorber conducted research on one of the mathematics students and noticed that the student’s head was a little larger than normal. Lorber found the student that the student was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate. When he was examined by CAT-scan, however,
Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all.

Evidence for this?

factfinder - 27 October 2011 06:03 AM

One of the few biologists to propose a radically novel approach to these questions is Dr Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake is a crank. And Morphic resonance is nonsense. Really, you need to do some more basic research on these things before bringing them up.

factfinder - 27 October 2011 06:03 AM

Wrong again. Your denial doesn’t amount to refutation. It is interesting that people who hold your view have to rely on someone whose arguments were flawed and who lived 360 years ago but about whom, Blaise Pascal said that “I cannot forgive Descartes; in all his philosophy, Descartes did his best to dispense with God. But Descartes could not avoid prodding God to set the world in motion with a snap of his lordly fingers; after that, he had no more use for God.”  For more contemporary critiques of Descartes read Descartes’ Error by Antonio R. Damasio and then Molecules and Emotion by Candace Pert, Ph.D.

FYI: You have just committed a gigantic circular error. In trying to “prove” your original point that mind is brain all you have done has deny any other position and represent your own as a conclusion given and proven. Nope. Wrong again. For the third time. Hopelessly inadequate

LOL

Pot, meet kettle. The difference is that I’m relying on over a century of brain research and you’re relying on ... Rupert Sheldrake?

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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factfinder - 27 October 2011 06:04 AM
George - 26 October 2011 06:33 AM
factfinder - 25 October 2011 06:04 PM

Also, you seem to locate both rationality and intelligence exclusively as brain functions but there is a lot of evidence that every cell of the body has intelligence and there are neurons in the spine, etc.

Do you think amputation of your leg would make you less rational?

There would still be millions of cells to do the job.

Funny, your leg is quite a bit bigger than your brain, isn’t it?

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Posted: 27 October 2011 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 25 October 2011 08:56 PM

Whether or not the brain is the originator of every thought (probably not, as pleasure and pain can originate from virtually any part of the body and would constitute a ‘thought’) doesn’t matter so much as recognizing that the brain is the central control organ.

Well, I think this suffers from equivocation over the word “originator”. One sense of “originator” is causal, and another is metaphysical. E.g., what is the ‘originator’ of water? In one sense water originates in the stars and nebulae: they are what caused water to exist. In another sense water originates in H2O; that is, it is metaphysically dependent upon (in this case, identical to) H2O.

 

You are confusing metaphysics with etymology and word definition. Metaphysics is, by its very nature, beyond definition and etymology.

When people say that the brain is the originator of every thought they don’t mean that every thought has its causal origins in the brain. Or at least they don’t simply mean this: clearly causation has a long tail and so every thought will of necessity have its origin outside the brain. But the light outside my eyes does not (in your terms) constitute a thought, and neither does the nerve impulse in my finger when I hit it with a hammer. The thought, such as it is, has its origin in (= metaphysical dependence upon) the brain. No brain, no thought.

Put it another way: take away H2O, there is no water, no matter what happens in stars and nebulae. Take away the brain, there is no thought, no matter what happens in external nerve endings. A brainless body has no thoughts, and cannot feel pain, even if it is kept temporarily ‘alive’ on a respirator, etc.

Your position is dead wrong. In addition, it is a fallacious circular argument in that your premise, “proof” and conclusion are one and the same. Stephan Schwartz has written an excellent article on whether the brain really is even necessary.

http://www.schwartzreport.net/

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