Yet somehow, certainly with no larger design or purpose, all contribute to something larger that emerges.
Hong Kong. How much did reason and science create this place? Plenty, to be sure. Reason produced the laws and systems governing the marketplace and civil society. Reason and science helped produce the factories and Kwai Tsing and all the systems of the local economy that have made Hong Kong so important globally, and the fourth most densely populated city on the planet.
Mind Improvement Institute – How We Reason – Slušaj na Deezer-u
But how much of Hong Kong and the improvement in human well-being that we enjoy are also the accidental emergent result of biologically imprinted instincts that trigger most of our behaviors not in pursuit of benefiting mankind, but of keeping our own individual selves and immediate families fed and safe and alive? They cite the many examples of non-reciprocal altruism and behaviors that sacrifice individual advantage to benefit our larger group or tribe.
Note how society honors the soldiers who fall on the grenade to save their comrades, the Oskar Schindlers, or gives tax breaks to those who give their own resources to others via charity. Encouraging such selflessness reinforces behavior that benefits the larger whole, as well as our own prospects as members of that whole.
And there is still more. Reason and science can only provide information.
How else could it be that reasonably intelligent and educated people believe that life began in B. And what is true of individuals is true of the institutions that we create and operate, ostensibly for the greater common good.
Consider how different individual interpretations of the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is producing a less-than-rational response to that immense threat by the government in the United States. Or consider the disagreement within the institutions of higher learning and thinking, science and academia, the Enlightenment directly created. Many look at the same body of evidence and see immense problems, a glass more than half empty and draining fast. Against this veritable mountain of evidence, it seems that our faith in the supreme power of reason is, well, unreasonable.
And this matters. Whether the human mind can achieve that sort of agreed-upon truth, objectivity is more than a philosophical question. To solve those problems requires understanding them. The question, then, is this: Can reason alone ride to the rescue? Or would we be wiser to accept that a lot of how we perceive the world and behave has little to do with higher-level, purposeful, objective, rational thinking, and a lot more to do with what our instincts and subconscious affective cognition lead us to do.
In short, are our choices and behaviors under our control, or do they emerge? With just a few key strokes and for only a few dollars, I purchased candy manufactured in Japan and available only in Asia peach-flavored Hi Chews, which are delicious! How perfectly this one insignificant transaction exemplifies the emergent nature of human behavior.
Reason and science unquestionably helped create all the remarkable technologies and systems and institutions that enabled me to make this purchase. But behind each of the many steps it took to make and ship me my candy, people were involved, and it takes a bigger leap of faith than I am willing to make to believe that reason, or the conscious concern for the greater long-term good of the species that the devotees of reason believe reason can produce, had much to do with what each of those people did to get me my Hi Chews.
Their own self-interest and instinctive needs, responding to external economic and social and cultural constraints, led them to live where they do, to acquire their skills, to get and do their jobs. The technologies and systems that produced my candy and moved it halfway around the world were created by workers compelled, like ants, by instinctive drives. To keep progress going, but solve the problems we face and avoid creating more, we need a more inclusive view of how and why humans think and act as we do. We need more humility about just how far reason can take us.
We need to be smarter about just how smart we can actually be. But we need to do more. Reason and science by themselves have not gotten us where we are. Too much faith in them might keep us from getting where we want to go. I think you overestimate the power of emergence. Emergent behavior typically does not lead to any kind of efficient coordination of activities leading to the achievement of a complicated goal, unless you are very, very, very lucky. The airplane you were travelling in, the car you were driving, the container movements you saw, they were all the result of careful planning and engineering, including the usage of feedback from past experiences.
This world owes a lot to the scientists and engineers who created it, not to the instinct-driven behavior of humans.
Culture Shapes How We Learn to Reason?
The examples of emergent behavior we know tend to lead to unpredictable chaos or very basic recurring patterns: an ant hill, the weather, the global economy, the emergence of the universe from the big bang, the emergence of fundamentalism of any kind…. For other examples you mention, such as consciousness or evolution, the evidence of emergence is far from solid — emergence is simply assumed here by some scientists because no evidence of other mechanisms has been found which does not mean these mechanisms do not exist. Fear drives us to do amazing things—and brings us together.
Sweeping change needs sweeping concern. It's not there yet for climate change. Two men of science conduct a "study" of testosterone levels at a hockey game.
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