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dshanin's picture



Reading other people’s perspective on an evolutionary viewpoint got me thinking a little bit more, especially in response to question of how many people must agree for something to be objective (assuming we are accepting Paul’s “no true objective” theory). I see an organism’s existence as proof of an unbroken string of generations stretching back millions of years. Every single one of its ancestors must have processed its external environment in an effective enough manner to pass on its genes. Simple probability suggests that sooner or later an error must be made and an organism must perish. The mere existence of so many members of so many species on our planet testifies to the incredible accuracy with which every organism can process its external environment. Thus a failure of “objectivity” would not simply reflect a shift towards subjectivity but rather the elimination of a genetic lineage (imagine a monkey grasping in vain for a vine it erroneously perceived as being within reach, the monkey plunges to the forest floor, paying dearly to keep subjectivity from reaching the next generation).


Totally unrelated thought: I was a bit uneasy with the vigor with which we pulled Descartes into our discussion. We are all very well-informed about neuroscience topics but with the exception of Paul and David (sorry if I am missing anybody else) pretty ignorant of philosophy. I cannot help but feel that references concepts that we do not fully understand can only weaken arguments. I worry that we tend to view philosophy, especially big sexy names like Descartes, with the same awestruck fantasy that most of the population views neuroscience. 


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