[extropy-chat] Re Fight for Evolution?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Fri Mar 3 16:05:44 UTC 2006

Amara writes

> Pete Bertine pkbertine at hotmail.com :
> > My love of reading and writing was all consuming and I poured over
> > advanced theory in physics from an early age, trying to make sense of
> > the math. Again, sadly, I possessed no aptitude for mathematics.
> "aptitude.." ? Did you try?

It's entirely possible that Pete is right about his aptitude, though
usually folks are quite a bit more capable than they conclude---they
just have to imagine what the right learning environment for them 
would have been.

> I failed calculus twice when I was 17 and 18. On the third time, with
> a good teacher, I got As and Bs.

Seriously, if you had been all-interested at age 14 or 15, you may
very well have just absorbed enough of it on pure faith to solve a
lot of problems, feel quite successful, and in some real ways 
understand a great deal. Some people are so rational by the time
they're 17 or 18 that they've become critical thinkers, and demand
understanding too many details before they go ahead.  "Just go on,"
said D'Alembert, "and the faith will soon return".

> > Part of the function of a rational mind is a desire to understand and
> > control the environment around it.
> "control" the environment?

I too would demur at the use of "desire to control". Many people we'd
want to hold up as exemplars of rationality don't happen to have this
desire. But on a broader level, the human organism and perhaps even
the human race is designed to want to control its environment.

The bacteria in my kitchen sure know who's boss! I ruthlessly destroy
them by the billions, and in this house it is indeed I who control the
environment, and I wouldn't have it any other way  :-)


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