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The Natural History of Truth

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ART and ORGANISM O The Natural History of Truth Natural History is the context in which behavior is understood Complementary questions are framed by DEEP ETHOLOGY ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Natural History of Truth


1
ART and ORGANISM
O
  • The Natural History of Truth

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Natural History is the context in which behavior
is understood
  • Complementary questions are framed by DEEP
    ETHOLOGY
  • Causes and consequences of behavior are both
    proximate and ultimate
  • Epigenetic cascade of interacting biological and
    environmental influences

4
DEEP Ethology
  • Description
  • Development
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Physiology

5
TRUTH how do we know what to believe?
  • I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the
    hearts affections and the truth of imagination
    what the imagination seizes as beauty must be
    truthwhether it existed before or not.
    (John Keats)

6
TRUTH properties of beliefs
  • Peoples beliefs have some measure of validity
    (external correspondences) and reliability
    (internal coherence).
  • A more intelligent, adaptive person has achieved
    a higher degree of external correspondence and
    internal coherence in his or her knowledge based
    and belief structures.
  • People think unintelligently to the extent to
    which they make errors in achieving external
    correspondence or internal coherence.
  • (Sternberg 19971031)

7
true understanding can only be attained through
direct experience
8
WORDS
  • The best things cannot be told, the second best
    are misunderstood. After that comes civilized
    conversation . . .
  • --Joseph Campbell (1968)

9
WORDS
  • Since words are at best metaphors that stand-in
    for the things they represent, we are doomed from
    the outset.
  • We can only approximate what we are speaking of

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WORDS
  • As far they refer to reality, they are not
    certain
  • and as far as they are certain, they do not refer
    to reality.

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With all that said about the unsayable. . .
  • I will try . . . with words . . . to
  • characterize TRUTH (not so hard) and
  • REALITY (probably impossible)

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  • TRUTH is a quality of a belief we hold in our
    heads -- It has met certain tests
  • It corresponds to the world outside our heads
    with fidelity it is valid and
  • It coheres or fits in with all other beliefs
    we hold with more-or-less confidence

23
  • To be a successful species, our beliefs dont
    have to be true they only have to represent our
    needs well enough to serve our biological fitness
    competence to survive and thrive.
  • (modern science has shown that there are many
    qualities of the world we have no need to know
    about so the capacity to detect and act upon
    those qualities is weak at best and may never
    have evolved)

24
TRUTH, like SCIENCE, is . . .
  • . . . nothing but the expression of the
    necessary mode of working of the human mind

T.H. Huxley (1863)
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WORDS
  • . . . are the instruments of thought . . .
  • they form the channel along which thought flows .
    . .
  • -- Aldous Huxley

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  • So, words, like water carves a path . . .
  • the stream that flows through our brains follows
    the contours of the landscape, but at the same
    time gradually sculpts its own stream-bed.

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Searching for truth . . .
  • se hace camino al andar

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Creating the truth . . .
  • We make the road by walking

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Threads of Evidence Needs met
  • When needs are not met, organisms do not thrive
    or survive
  • Meeting NEEDS is the basic business of life.
  • Among our coping mechanisms is the physiological
    stress response . . .
  • including evoked behavioral patterns.

30
MEETING NEEDS
  • Maslows need hierarchy
  • Physiology (homeostasis, health)
  • Safety (security, order, protection)
  • Belonging ( sociability, acceptance, love)
  • Esteem (status, prestige, acknowledgment)
  • Self-Actualization (personal fulfillment)

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  • There are two qualities of truth most often
    discussed by philosophers -- COHERENCE and
    CORRESPONDENCE -- there is no confidence in the
    truthfulness of a belief without both
  • In fact, the interplay of these two qualities are
    sometimes regarded as the essential reciprocally
    related aspects of intelligence by psychologists
    (Sternberg)
  • Our purpose today is to examine how these two
    functions are represented in the human brain and
    work together to create a sense of truth.

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TRUTH and REALITY
  • Truth (the way I use it) is distinct from
    reality (of which truth is at best an
    approximation --but one good enough to service
    the needs of biological fitness.
  • Authorities for that are Kant (ideas about
    noumenal and phenomenal) and von Uexkull (ideas
    about Umwelt --the unique but limited "sensory
    world of an individual or individual species)

33
Whether an action is guided more by science or by
relgion, there is an urgent need that must be met
  • We need confidence in our beliefs
  • We call it truth and it is an amalgam of two
    ways of knowing, each critical in their own
    right
  • CORRESPONDENCE (with reality)
  • COHERENCE (within a web of causes and
    consequences)

34
  • CORRESPONDENCE
  • "Knowledge is the conformity of
  • the object and the intellect"
  • (Averroes d.1198)
  • Beauty is a harmonious relation between
  • something in our nature
  • and the quality of the object which delights us.
  • (Blaise Pascal)
  • Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
  • --that is all
  • Ye know on earth, and all ye
  • need to know
  • (Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn)

35
  • COHERENCE
  • "The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may
    be the rest of our truths."
  • -- William James
  • No man's knowledge here can go
  • beyond his experience.
  • (John Locke)
  • There is an essential tension
  • between tradition and innovation
  • (Thomas Kuhn)

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  • The essential tension
  • between tradition and innovation
  • (your past and your future)
  • (Thomas Kuhn)
  • Between what is known and what might be known?
  • Between what is known and what is knowable?
  • To this we have to add
  • Between the ways of knowing
  • The conscious and the non-conscious,
  • The mind and the heart
  • Reason and intuition

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The essential tension
  • Between the senses and understanding
  • "The senses cannot think.
  • The understanding cannot see."
  • Immanual Kant
  • Critique of Pure Reason

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  • "You can only find truth with logic
  • if you have already found truth without it."
  • G.K Chesterton
  • The Man who was Orthodox
  • The heart has its reasons
  • of which reason knows nothing
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Pensées (1670)
  • What do we mean by heart? it is our
    intuition, our drawing upon the great reservoir
    of non-conscious knowledge

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Types of Consciousness
  • AFFECTIVE
  • More Subcortical
  • Less Computational
  • More Analog
  • Intentions in Action
  • Action to Perception
  • Neuromodulator codes (Neuropeptide)
  • COGNITIVE
  • More Neocortical
  • More Computational
  • More Digital
  • Intentions to Act
  • Perception to Action
  • Neurotransmitter Codes (Glutamate, etc)

40
APOLLONIAN internal locus of control cognitive-aff
ective belief systems, low susceptibility to
hypnotic suggestions low levels of written output
of high complexity, and immediate critical
appraisal.
DIONYSIAN external locus of control affective-cogn
itive belief systems, high susceptibility to
hypnotic suggestions high levels of written
output of low complexity and suspended critical
appraisal
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LEFT HEMISPHERE Coherence creates a stable
and internally consistent belief system works
hard to save appearances (Ramachandran
1998) Probabilistic reasoning (Osherson et al
1998) Abstract object recognition (Marsolek
1999)
RIGHT HEMISPHERE Correspondence tests reality
and if damaged, confabulation runs
rampant (Ramachandran 1998) Deductive
reasoning (Osherson et al 1998) Specific object
recognition (Marsolek 1999)
43
NeuroTheology
  • . . . rites manage to tap into the precise
    brain mechanisms that tend to make believers
    interpret perceptions and feelings as evidence of
    God or, at least, transcendence. As long as our
    brain is wired as it is God will not go away.

Left the brain of an experienced Tibetan
meditator shows decreased activity in the
parietal lobe (on the right side) when he
meditates. Right the same person's brain during
normal activity If the right hemisphere (reality
testing) is stilled, left hemisphere functions
are disinhibited
44
Affect Moral Judgment
  • BA9/10 (medial frontal gyrus), BA31 (posterior
    cingulate gyrus), and BA39 (angular gyrus,
    bilateral) were significantly more active in the
    moral-personal condition than in the
    moral-impersonal and the non-moral conditions.
  • Greene et al 2001

45
What we know of nature is necessarily limited
  • Reality is out there . . . truth is in here
  • Our umwelt world of senses is limited to what
    our sense organs can detect and we have evolved
    to detect only that which is essential to
    survival to the meeting of our needs.
  • One such need is for stories an understanding
    of the causes and consequences of phenomena
  • A predictable world is much less stressful

46
needs of scientists
  • "the years of searching in the dark for a truth
    that one feels but cannot express the intense
    desire and the alterations of confidence and
    misgiving, until one breaks through to clarify
    and understanding, are only known to him who has
    himself experienced them
  • --Einstein

47
Beyond biological self-actualization
  • Those who hunger for illumination, those who
    see, remain on the fringe. They are derided,
    they are treated as mad. But these few rare
    souls resist and are vigilant. They have an
    obscure need for spiritual life, for knowledge,
    for progress.
  • (Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944)

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Doubts and certainties
  • If a man shall begin in certainties, he shall end
    in doubts
  • but if he will be content to begin with doubts he
    shall end in certainties.
  • Francis Bacon 1605

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  • All truths wait in all things,
  • They neither hasten their own delivery nor
    resist it,
  • They do not need the obstetric forceps of the
    surgeon.
  • The insignificant is as big to me as any,
  • What is less or more than a touch?
  • Logic and sermons never convince,
  • The damp of the night drives deeper into my
    soul.
  • Only what proves itself to every man and woman
    is so,
  • Only what nobody denies is so.
  • --Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself," 647-655.

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Science begins and ends in mystery --it is what
remains after all inquiry has been exhausted
  • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is
    the mysterious. It is the source of all true art
    and science. He to whom this emotion is a
    stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and
    stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead his eyes
    are closed.
  • Albert Einstein

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Miracles evoke WONDER
  • "Miracles happen, not in opposition to Nature,
  • but in opposition to what we know of Nature."
  • --St. Augustine

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Miracles evoke WONDER
  • If men called divine everything they did not
    understand, why, there would be no end of divine
    things
  • --Hippocrates

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  • "Our life is an appenticeship to the truth that
    around every circle another can be drawn that
    there is no end in nature, but every end is a
    beginning, and under every deep a lower deep
    opens"
  • --Ralph Waldo Emerson

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