Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movies vs Maps

Scott Adams has been an insightful commentator on the race for prez. But his abstract philosophy lacks insight into its own condition.

On the one hand:

"I don’t believe reality is something the human brain can understand. We didn’t evolve with the ability to see reality for what it is. Evolution only cares if we survive and procreate."

And, if this is the reality, how does he know it? Is his brain somehow connected to reality after all?

He imagines that we are watching movies in our heads, not really attending to reality. But...

"Still, it might matter who has the most “useful” movie among us."

And there it is. Pragmatism as the solution to unknowability.

My follow-up question is: mightn't it turn out that being in touch with reality is crucial to survival and procreation? You think the mammalian nervous system evolved just to keep all those furry critters amused? You think the startling powers of the human brain, which have summoned forth our modern high-tech world, evolved just to give us movies that might prove useful in some way?

Nervous systems are guidance systems. Plants don't need them because they stay in one place. Animals need them because they wander around and need to find stuff. Guidance systems that don't provide useful maps are going to be guidance systems that don't survive. And do you know what kind of maps prove useful? Maps that reflect reality.

A map that doesn't reflect
The actual lay of the land
Exhibits a major defect:
You end where you hadn't planned.

No comments: