If we were simply minds designed to assess truth, life would be easy. We could simply test and adopt the evidential heuristics and algorithms that provide the most predictive successes, apply these tools to the evidence for and against a given proposition, then simply assign a probability to the truthfulness of that proposition. There would be no default position of belief or disbelief. There would be no bivalent conclusion of belief or disbelief. Everything would be comfortably a matter of epistemological probabilities that had no bearing on our survival.
However, we find ourselves active agents in a world in which we are driven to survive and secure happiness for ourselves and those we love. We find ourselves emotional beings that are very much disturbed by uncertainty. We are driven to “know”.
This drive to “know” is what pulls us away from proper probabilistic positions on the truthfulness of claims, and compels us to claim “knowledge” that a proposition is either true or untrue. While this bivalent approach to truth destroys our credibility as effective assessors of epistemological probabilities, it is nonetheless fully human. Continue reading →
This post is an elaboration of #2 from a list of things I’ve learned late in life. Assessing the tool of assessment is the first step of assessment.
Prior to the understanding of the microscopic dynamics of neurons, the brains of cadavers were prodded and poked at with nothing uncovered that would suggest anything other than the widespread assumption that the folds of gray matter merely housed an immaterial agent of beliefs and the will. And this was intuitive. After all, we feel like we are more than neurons; that we are an immaterial soul that transcends the prison of our physical existence. In conjunction with our intuitive feelings of soulfulness, the nature of this soul was usually defined by a top-down ideology, most commonly a religion.
However, as scientific tools and method allowed us to more deeply examine the physical tissue of the brain, Continue reading →
The interview of Tom Clark by Ginger Campbell linked to below is unquestionably one of the best commentaries on the essence and implications of naturalism out there. It confronts head-on the issues of free will, morality, and what it is to be human.
It says that we are all natural creatures, that nature is what there is, and that nature is enough: That we don’t need anything supernatural to describe ourselves, nor do we need anything supernatural in order to lead meaningful, moral, and effective lives.