I am trying to figure out my own view on whether humans are more like Cartesian selves or like ants (or lichens or something!). When I know something my knowledge is often based upon, or even simply taken from someone else. Worse, outside academic contexts I often can’t remember or never even knew who had the original intuition. Relying on memory seems to work but is epistemologically dodgy if I am a Cartesian, and Hume warns us about assuming that the future is analogous to the past. Maybe I would be less willing to make predictions based on the past if everyone else wasn’t doing so, and apparently getting away with it.
When I was at school we were taught how a blast furnace works, in those days (the 1970s) there was little chance that I would ever directly use this knowledge, but if civilisation collapsed, as the threat of nuclear war implied, at least we schoolboys (and girls I suppose, but this was the 70s) would have some kind of folk memory about how to reconstruct the iron age. The concept of a radio valve is within the intellectual grasp of most people, the analogous transistor requires a knowledge of quantum mechanics possessed only by the few. A century ago valves were state of the art technology, a twenty first century toddler will probably live her entire life unable to understand the technology she has been exposed to before her first birthday.
‘We’ know things that individuals don’t. To what extent is humanity a single mental entity?
admin: Food for thought on the subject on BBC iPlayer until 22/2 2016:
The Brain with David Eagleman – What is Reality?
Date(s) - 23/02/2016 (Tuesday)
7.00 pm - 9.00 pm
The Thornbury Castle