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Re: Is Ayn Rand's philosophy *mean*?

 John Alway ( wrote:
 : Paul Knight wrote:
 : > Human language is not the measure of reasoning.  After all, if that were
 : > the criterion for reasoning ability, computers would not pass the muster
 : > for reasoning.  For us to communicate with them, we adapt our language
 : > to their needs.  The adaptation of computer language to our needs, e.g.,
 : > natural language conversations including human gestures, is far behind.
 : > Yet nobody would argue that computers cannot reason; we can know the
 : > details of their reasoning processes with complete detail.
 : 	  Well, actually, computers can not reason.  Computers
 : 	simply respond to input with an output.  It's all very
 : 	mechanical with no conscious thought what-so-ever.
 I seems to me that that we are using different concepts of reasoning. 
 The reasoning to which I refer is deductive reasoning, i.e., given
 a set of rules and a set of data, the analysis will yield a consistent
 result.  The programmer should know the results beforehand if he has
 the data. This is the reasoning of the idiot savant, e.g, a person
 who can do square roots in his head but is limited in other ways.
 This is the type of reasoning we want from computers, but it is the
 same reasoning method taught in plane geometry classes in high school.
 Inductive reasoning is a bit different because it can lead to errors
 and has unpredictable results.  This is common for man and animals as
 well.  It is the fundamental basis of operant conditioning of any
 : 	  Computers are a bit like "recipe" machines.  They do
 : 	precisely what you program them to do, just as a lever
 : 	does what you tell it to do when you push on one end and
 : 	the other end goes up.  There's _no_ thought going on
 : 	except the thought of the programmer and machine designer.
 Whether or not there is thought depends on how one defines thought.
 Certainly computers do not perform human thought, but they certainly
 do deductive reasoning.  
 Of course, the man, the animal and the computer all do their reasoning
 by physical processes.  The computer just uses a different physical
 process than does the man and animal.  The physical processes for 
 humans and other vertebrates are similar.  The main difference between
 the biological machine and the computer is that the computer has a vastly
 higher probability of being correct at deductive logic.  
 The other issue is whether or not man is driven by reason or emotion.  From
 my observations of human behavior, man is driven by his emotions and uses
 his reasoning as a tool to achieve his emotional needs.  Animals do the 
 same thing, as when my cats plan their climbing routes in my home.  If man
 were driven primarily by reason, then we would not see all of manifestations
 of his emotions, e.g., war, hatred, anger, drunkeness, drug addiction,
 obesity, shame, lust, deception, greed, jealousy and so forth.  If reason
 were so important to biological survival, then those species with little of
 it would never have evolved or we fail to see the reasoning processes that
 keep them alive.  If the shark cannot reason, then reason played little
 role in the shark's quarter billion year survival, much longer than man's

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