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Posted by Harvey on May 30, 2002 05:02:14 UTC

Hi Luis,

***I assert that what determines our "tastes" is our predisposition to recognize and react to patterns.***

I assert that what determines our 'tastes' is our predisposition to recognize and react to what the majority or leaders (e.g., the hip people) are doing. We are reacting to patterns, but the patterns are memes that hold selective advantages if we are attracted to those tastes.

***H: "The ancient Greeks would understand modern philosophy much better than modern art and modern music." L: Precisely. It is my argument that the logic behind art is vastly more complex than that behind philosophy.***

What 'logic' is behind art other than providing these selective advantages? Listen to what I'm not saying: I am not saying certain patterns do not provide an advantage for the species (either in terms of survival or in terms of being 'cool', etc), we might gravitate toward certain patterns because they do offer certain overall advantages (e.g., mathematical patterns might be more efficient, etc). Rather, what I am saying is that if certain patterns are favored because of certain efficient (e.g., mathematical) reasons of nature, then our tastes are not directly driven by those reasons. Our tastes are directly driven by evolutionary ones that exhibit themselves as I said above - in terms of some form of a meme theory selection.

Philosophy and science (as an extension of philosophy), on the other hand, seeks to analyze the criteria for selection without being overly affected by another set of memes. In practice, this is very difficult to do. We might be more willing to accept the writings of a Steven Weinberg because he is the 'alpha male' leader of physicists, and in that way we are maybe overly influenced by evolutionary factors even in pursuit of truth. Nonetheless, unlike art and music, philosophy and science are apt to correct the distractions that these evolutionary selection factors exhibit simply by being dedicated to a set of primary internalistic criteria. These internalist criteria include making sense of the world at some fundamental level (e.g., an elaboration of logic, explanation, cause, etc).

These internalist criteria are able to correct in the longterm any distortions that evolutionary factors (e.g., what our 'alpha males' believe) simply by the act of contradiction to our core set of internalist criteria. So, if Steven Weinberg says that the universe is contracting, and later our observations (which are related to our core set of internalist criteria) show that the universe is expanding, we are able to reject Steven Weinberg's opinions even though he is an 'alpha male' of physics. This is the basis of what science is based on, and the reason why we can expand our knowledge with science.

Philosophy only lacks one of the tools of science. Philosophy lacks observational extensions of our internalist criteria (i.e., empirical observations to theoretical predictions). This makes philosophy much weaker at expanding knowledge in this sense, but it still has many of the other tools for knowledge acquisition that it shares with science (e.g., Occam's razor, logic, mathematics, non-fallicious arguments, etc).

***I'm not saying we can enumerate these exact relationships just yet. I'm just saying that we will some day be able to see these relationships & express them mathematically. Hence, some day we may be able to show exactly how Negativland's algorithm was much sloppier than that of The Residents.***

Where I think you are incorrect is your interpretation of art being guided by some universal principles (i.e., complex algorithms). These algorithms might exist, but even if they do they cannot be the reason that humans prefer certain patterns over others simply because evolutionary science has demonstrated that selection mechanisms are not nearly as sophisticated to spot mathematical patterns from non-mathematical patterns (for example). Quite the contrary, nature is too dumb to make such sophisticated selections. Selection is guided by the evolutionary factors that are at hand. Similarly, I contend that art and music is evolutionary guided - much like everything else in our culture (e.g., our choice in clothes, cars, furniture, etc).

Warm regards, Harv

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