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Aristippus: Plato's Fatal Conceit

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Clayton Posted: Mon, Dec 3 2012 4:45 PM

Awesome article on VR. This sparked a thought and I have applied to contribute on VR. Hopefully, I get approved soon. In the meantime, I must jot down my thoughts on pain of losing them.

I think we can make an argument that positing central design in the face of an already-sufficient emergent explanation is a violation of Ockham's (eponymous?) razor: "Do not multiply entities beyond necessity."

For example, consider an anthill. An untrained observer stumbling upon such a miracle might falsely assume that its overall design is directed through messaging from a "grand architect ant" to its underlings. This understanding would be false. While ants do have a diversity of roles, no single ant - or even a small group of "ant elites" - are responsible for the phenomenon of the anthill. Step-by-step, bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, the anthill has been constructed from nothing more than lots of ants, each following its own "instincts", blind to the scope and sweep of the work of its compatriots or the collective outcome of their efforts.

Once we have a sufficient, emergent explanation - the efforts of innumerable ants, each acting in accordance with its instincts, moving dirt bit-by-bit, has given rise to the overall phenomenon - it is now superfluous to tack on a "grand architect ant". There is nothing left to be explained by this entity and it is, thus, an offense to reason to gratuitously posit it.

To move back to language, the mistake of positing legislation of language is that it multiplies entities beyond necessity. We know that people make up words and when we are lucky, we can sometimes trace popular phrases back to the very neighborhood where they originated. The spread of words has been compared by linguists and biologists to the evolutionary spread of genes... words are not merely like genes, they literally operate on the same evolutinoary principle that genes operate on.

We have eliminated a designer from biology because he is unneeded and to posit one anyway is grotesque. The linguists have eliminated a designer from language. The economists are still struggling to eliminate the designer from the economy.

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Excellent thoughts, and thanks for the plug.  Great to have you on board.

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Hopefully, I get approved soon.

The invitation is waiting at the email address you've provided.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Dec 4 2012 12:00 PM

I'm having difficulties with MCB boards. Please check my thread there.

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