Joined: Jan. 2006
Re: reasoned. AH! Thanks very much! I had an inkling I'd said it somewhere (and knew that it was an error) but when I checked back on the thread I couldn't find it so I figured I'd corrected it. My mistake entirely. My apologises for the confusion caused (at least to myself!). I recently deleted all my PMs ad my inbox had filled, sorry. Consider my surprise retracted. ;-) Delete that "reasoned" and insert a "based on a process derived from reason, observation etc.". Wrong or right that at least makes it consistent with what I've said before.
Also I didn't mean to imply that you or BWE were using invalid definitions of "reason" etc, just that you (plural) and I were probably using different ones, or that I had inadvertantly used two different ones poorly (as above). And yes, I have used "reason" in different contexts, but I'd hoped until now I'd been clear, obviously I haven't! I'll try harder. (Incidentally, I've also always found the definition of "knowledge" to be as you describe it, and I think that it marks one of the foundational difficulties of these discussions. I was thinking of adding a "communicable" caveat to the definition, but I didn't because I haven't worked out all the details of its implications yet)
I'm not sure however if I'm being thick (always a possibility) or if we're talking at cross purposes with reference to ball catching and reason. Knowing me, probably the former! I understand the point about propositional/representational aspects inherent in the definitions of reason and knowledge I've used. I think maybe where I've made the mistake is saying "knowledge" regarding ball catching when perhaps I meant data or information. Let me think about this.
I think we're both caught up in the propositonal nature of reasoning, and my (perhaps poor) use of the term "reason" for unconscious processes. I'm not even sure that ball catching is not propositional. The problem I'm having is in articulating that distinction. Maybe I've used the wrong words, maybe the emphasis I've been trying to make is not coming across.
Bear with me whilst I try to work this out:
1) The ability to catch a ball is derived in part from the interaction of conscious and unconscious brain processes with the environment.
2) Inherent in those learning processes are a "trial and error" style series of "observations". I.e. the brain "observes" the behaviour of balls in flight and learns how to intercept their trajectories via a series of interactions with balls in flight.
3) By this process the brain develops a picture of how balls in flight behave, that "data" (knowledge? information? Maybe I've been using the wrong words) is, as mentioned, derived from brain-environment interaction, be that for an individual organism or as an evolved ability, both require that interaction to develop.
4) I think that this is precisely what you describe as "A proposition entails a representation of a possible state of affairs in the world ("there are a lot of cats in the neighborhood") and may be factual or counterfactual." The brain has developed a representation of a possible state of affairs in the world, i.e. how balls behave in flight, and learned how to interact with that state of affairs to produce a specific result (catching of ball). How permanent or temporary that representation is, how quickly or consciously it is used/maintained are besides the point. It is an interaction of brain and environment in a consistent manner.
5) I think I see where we're diverging, it's the conscious/unconscious dichotomy and how the data is processed. I am not saying that brain processes underlying ball catching are part of the conscious processes of the brain, or even that we are aware of them, or represent a conscious model of what the environment around the brain is, and perhaps my use of the words "reason" and "observation" imply a conscious element I don't intend, but I'm not sure what other words to use (maybe "reason-like proccess"?). How that data is processed, the multifarious layers and pathways through the brain, whilst not irrrelevant, are not the point of what I was trying to say.
The distinction I have been making is that brains learn to catch balls by interaction with their environment (trivially true), that interaction is an example of reason in the same way that the distribution of petals on specific flowers are examples of the Fibonnacci sequence. The distinction being that faith and revelation are not processes that utilise interaction with their environment, they are the internal generation of concepts within the brains of individuals, they eschew interaction deliberately. Idea X is true as an article of faith, comparing idea X to the universe around one is in opposition to having faith in it. No knowledge/data/information is generated or acquired by the process of having an idea untested by any form of interaction even though that idea might, by coincidence represent something externally verifiable. If the brain made models of the environment around it without interacting with that environment in anyway, those models are more likely to be inaccurate. So the brain makes models that are based on interaction with the environment (observations made using sense data. I don't think that implies CONSCIOUS/AWARE observation btw). I think our process of reason as a conscious thing is a representation of this underlying mechanism of generating models via interaction.
6) Maybe I've missed the point and been a bit thick, if so, please explain it to me! Maybe I haven't got across the distinction I'm trying to make very well. Maybe the distinction is a poor one or maybe I'm using the wrong words to describe it. I know, for example, you are not and cannot be saying that the brain's ability to do the processing necessary to catch a ball is informed by something other than the brain's interaction with its environment via the senses. I think I've just used the wrong words to describe the process and you are trying to sort out those poorly chosen terms.
Either way, maybe I've fucked up.