Science & Reason
Working it out with a pencil

Some scientists would have us believe that science and reason are synonymous.  If science does not have the answer, the answer is not to be had.  Until science gets the answer, you had just better be patient.

By this same token, reasoning is totally objective and analytic.  If your thinking is outside that box, you are out of bounds.  You are committing irrationality.  Some day science will be able to demonstrate the mechanics of reason, and until then you had better take it on faith.

Some of us find that difficult.  Some of us even find it cultist, but it is not easy to argue with the juggernaut of computer intelligence.  The practitioners may all be too busy making money.

Analytic philosophy lives on, but only as a method and not as a metaphysic.  The metaphysics of analysis has suffered innumerable deaths.  The practitioners of applied analytic intelligence are blithely ignorant of the lack of foundation.  They would merely argue that if the brain can be holistic, then so can machines.  That begs the mind/brain identity.  But if they are not, is that not being dualistic?  Not if the brain is a product of the mind.  That is immaterialism.  The apparent inconceivability of this logical reversal might lead one to suppose that the beliefs of scientists are secure.  We will just have to wait and see.

Words got us into analysis.  Can they get us out?  It was once thought that all thought could be analyzed into a finite set of facts.  This was wrong.  Many of our speech acts are irreducible, yet comprehensible.  Intention and reference are examples.  How would a machine intend?  The rejoinder of the artificer is that we only pretend to intend.  Intention is an artifact of a free will that cannot exist in the objective world of science.

Consider the notion of infinity.  There are a dwindling number of mathematicians, the constructivists, who claim that infinity is meaningless because it lacks a construct.  Lacking any construct, it cannot be programmed into a machine.  Most mathematicians continue to make very frequent use of infinity, without apparent ill effect, despite the occasional paradox.  In fact, physicists would still be back in the dark ages if they did not enthusiastically employ non-constructive mathematics.

It has been argued that reasoning necessarily entails a free will.  Mechanics and logic, causation and proof are not and cannot be synonymous.  It takes a great deal of handwaving to suggest otherwise.

Scientists suppose that they have all the time in the world to come up with the answers and the arguments.  That is where I come in.


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rev. 2/3/99