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Why do philosophers believe we have reached supreme human intelligence



Despite the tremendous advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still far from complete. Not only have scientists failed to find the Holy Grail of physics – combining very large (general relativity) with very small (quantum mechanics) – they still do not know what the vast majority of the universe consists of. The required Theory of Everything continues to surprise us. And there are other extraordinary puzzles, such as how consciousness derives from simple matter.

Will science ever be able to provide all the answers? Human brains are the product of blind and unlimited evolution. They were designed to solve practical problems that affect our survival and reproduction, rather than discovering the fabric of the universe. This realization has led some philosophers to adopt a curious form of pessimism, claiming that there is an obligation to be things we will never understand. Therefore, human science will one day reach a strong limit – and it may already have done so.

Some questions may be doomed to remain, as he called "mystery," by American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky. If you think humans only have unlimited cognitive power – they separate us from all other animals – you haven't completely swallowed Darwin's insight that Homo sapiens is very much part of the natural world.

But does this argument really work? They believe that the human brain did not evolve to reveal its origin. And yet somehow we managed to do just that. Pessimists may lack something.

Mysterious arguments

"Mysterious" thinkers play a significant role in biological arguments and analogies. In his feature book 1983 Modularity of Mind, the late philosopher Jerry Fodor argues that there must be no "thoughts we are not ready to think".

Similarly, the philosopher Colin McGinn claims in a series of books and articles that all minds suffer from "cognitive closure" in relation to certain problems. Just as dogs or cats will never understand the prime numbers, the human brain must be shut down by some of the wonders of the world. McGinn doubts that the reason why philosophical considerations such as the problem of the mind / body – how physical processes in our brain generate consciousness – have been proven to be indecent is that their true solutions are simply inaccessible to the human mind.

If McGinn is right that our brains are simply not equipped to handle certain problems, it makes no sense to even try, as they will continue to confuse and confuse us. McGinn himself is convinced that, in fact, there is a perfectly natural solution to the mind-body problem, but the human brain will never find it.

Even psychologist Stephen Pinker, who is often accused of the scientific hubris himself, is sympathetic to the arguments of the mysteries. If our ancestors didn't need to understand the wider cosmos to spread their genes, he argues, why would natural selection give us the brain power to do so?

Theories of mind

Mysteries usually raise the question of cognitive boundaries in strict, mono-white terms: either we can solve a problem, or it will defy us forever. Either we have a cognitive approach or we suffer from closure. At some point, the human probe will suddenly sink into a metaphorical brick brick, after which we will be forever doomed to stare blankly.

Yet another possibility that the mysteries often overlook is that the yield is slowly diminishing. Reaching the limits of inquiry may feel less like hitting a wall, than getting stuck in a hassle. We continue to have fun, even as we invest more and there is still no discrete point where further progress becomes impossible.

There is another ambiguity in the mystery thesis that my colleague Michael Valeik and I have highlighted in academic paper. Do the mysteries claim that we will never find the true scientific theory for some aspect of reality, or, alternatively, that we may find this theory but never understand it?

In the science fiction series Fitcherher's Galactic Guide, an alien civilization builds a huge supercomputer to calculate the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. When the computer finally announces that the answer is "42", no one has a clue what this means (in fact, they continue to build an even larger supercomputer to figure that out).

Is the question still a "mystery" if you've got the right answer, but have no idea what it means or can't wrap your head around it? Mysteries often conflict with these two possibilities.

In some places, McGinn points out that the problem of the mind and body is unavailable to human science, which probably means we will never find the true scientific theory that describes the mind-body nexus. At other times, however, he writes that the problem will always remain "necessarily difficult to think" of human beings and that "the head turns in theoretical unrest" when we try to think about it.

This suggests that we may get to the real scientific theory, but it will have a 42-like quality. But then again, some would argue that this is already true of theory as quantum mechanics. Even quantum physicist Richard Feynman admitted: "I think I can say for sure that no one understands quantum mechanics."

Would the mysterious people say that we humans are "cognitively closed" to the quantum world? According to quantum mechanics, particles can be in two places at once or by accident appearing out of space. Although this is extremely difficult to grasp, quantum theory leads to incredibly accurate predictions. The phenomena of "quantum oddity" have been confirmed by several experimental tests, and scientists are now developing applications based on the theory.

Mysterians also tend to forget how they think about previous scientific theories and concepts. Nothing in our cognitive makeup has prepared us for the theory of relativity, evolutionary biology or heliocentrism.