Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kitap: How the mind works (Bilinç nasıl çalışır)

Steven Pinker'in How the Mind Works isimli kitabını bitirdim, kitabı bol bol işaretledim. Kimileri kitaplarını işaretlemez, bunun kitabı kirlettiğini söylerler. Bence kitaplar steril şeyler değildir, kitabı işaretlemek okuyanın haleti ruhiyesini yansıtır, kitap okurla yek vücut olur.

Kitabı işaretlemenin ve işaretlenen kısımları internete koymanın faydaları:

  • Önemli hususlar akılda kalır.
  • Kitapta önemli noktalar işaretlenince bir dahaki sefer kitabı baştan sona okumak yerine bu noktalar okunarak zaman kazanılır. Sapla saman birbirinden ayrılır.
  • Notları internete aktarma işlemi kitabı kritik etme imkanı verir. Yorumların çoğunu notları internete aktarırken oluşturdum (bu madde dahil). “Writing creates ideas”.
  • Notlar internette aktarıldığından blog, sunuş vb. yerlerde alıntı yapmak kolaylaşır.
  • Başkaları kitap hakkında daha derin fikre sahip olurlar.

    Kitapla ilgili genel yorumum: Organların çalışma prensipleri ve evrimle çok fazla vakit harcanmış. Benim beklentim doğrudan bilinç üzerine bölümler okumaktı. Bu isteğime sadece son bölüm yaklaştı, o da kitabın onda biri idi. Evrim konusunda bilgi sahibi olmayanlar için iyi bir giriş ama benim gibi evrim üzerine yaklaşık on kitap okumuş biri için çoğu kısım tekrar. İlginç örnekler var ancak kitabı bitirdiğimde bilinç konusunda ekstra bir bilgi edindiğim kanısında değilim.

    Yine de evrim konusunda iyi bir hafıza tazeleme idmanı oldu. Evrimin uzun vadeli amaçlara hizmet edemediğini, bir nesilde olabilecek iyileşmelere göre ilerlediğini, bu nedenle de uzun vadede optimizasyona neden olacak çözümlerin evrimle oluşmayacağını, bugünkü davranışlarımızın aslında yaklaşık 100 bin yıl önceki şartlara göre evrimleştiğini (kara sevda), bazılarının artık işlevsiz olduğunu veya en azından seyreltilmesi gerektiğini (intikam içgüdüleri, inat vb.), etrafımızdaki gerçekliği algılama kapasitemizin kısıtlı olduğunu ve kendimizi ne kadar kolay aldatabildiğimizi hatırladık.

    Kitabın başka enteresan özelliği de Pinker abimizin bol bol filmlerden alıntı yapması. Filmlere örnekler (bir ara temin edip izleyesim var):
  • Wall Street
  • Love and Death (Woody Allen)
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Belgesel (Jane Godall): Annesi ölünce kendisi de ölen Flint isimli bir şempanzenin hikayesi

    Kitapta işaretlediğim kısımlar:
    [p.ix] The linguist Noam Chomsky once suggested that our ignorance can be divided into problems and msyteries. When we face a problem, we may not know its solution, but we have insight, incresing knowledge, and an inkling of what we are looking for. When we face a mystery, however, we can only stare in wonder and bewilderment, not knowing what an explanation would even look like. I wrote this book because dozens of mysteries of the mind, from mental images to romantic love, have recently been upgraded problems.

    [p.12] A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace.

    [p.30] Only an angel could be a general problem solver; we mortals have to make fallible guesses from fragmentary information. Each of our mental modules solves its unsolvable problem by a leap of faith about how the worls works, by making assumptions that are indispensable but indefensible – the only defense being that the assumptions worked well enough in the world well enough in the world of our ancestors.

    [p.62] Intelligence, then, is the abilitlity to attain goals in the face of obstacles by means of decisions based on rational (truth-obeying) rules...intelligence consists of specifying a goal, asessing the current situation to see how it differs from the goal, and applying a set of operation that reduce the difference.

    [p.85] Roman numerals have not survived, except as labels and decorations, because addition operations are far more complicated with them, and multiplication and division operations are practically impossible.

    [p.97] The arguments from Penrose and Searle have something in common other than their target. Unlike the theory they attack, they are so unconnected to discovery and eplanation in scientific practice that they have been empirically sterile, contributing no insight and inspiring no discoveries on how the mind works. In fact, the most interesting implication of The Emperor’s New Mind was pointed out by Denett. Penrose’s denunciation of the computational theory of mind turns out to be a backhanded compliment. The computational theory fits so well into our understanding of the world that, in trying to overthrow it, Penrose had to reject most of contemporary neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and physics!

    [p.99] Neurons, in effect, add up a set of quantities, compare the sum to a treshold, and indicate whether the treshold is exceeded.

    [p.153] The organisms reach an optimum and stay put, often for hundreds of millions of years. And those that do become more complex don’t always become smarter. They become bigger, or faster, or more poisonous, or more fecund, or more sensitive to smells and sounds, or able to fly higher... Evolution is about ends, not means; becoming smart is just one option.

    [p.185] ...every creature likes its own ways, and takes to the following them as a matter of course. Science may come and consider these ways, and find that most of them are useful. But it is not for the sake of their utility that they are followed, but because at the moment of following them we feel that that is the only appropriate and natural thing to do. And so, probably, does each animal feel about the particular things it tends to do in the presence of particular objects. To the broody hen the notion would probably seem monstrous that there should be a creature in the world to whom a nestful of eggs was not the utterly fascinating and precious and never-to-be-too-much sat-upon object which it is to her. What about our rational, flexible thought? Can it be explained as a set of instincts?...At the lowest levels, the steps have to be as automatic and unanalyzed as the reactions of the most brutish animal... When all goes well, our reasoning instincts link up into complex programs for rational analysis, but that is not because we somehow commune with the realm of truth and reason.

    [p.193] Any social special species can begin a never-ending escalation of brain power, but none exept ours has, probably because without some other change in lifestyle, the costs of intelligence (brain size, extended childhood, and so on) would damp the positive feedback loop.

    [p.197] There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.

    [p.206] There are no guardian angels seeing to it that every need is met. They are met only when mutations appear that are capable of building an organ that meets the need, when the organism finds itself in an environment in which meeting the need translates into more surviving babies, and in which that selection pressure persists over thousands of generations.

    [p.208] People do not divine what is adaptive for them or their genes; their genes give them thoughts and feelings that were adaptive in the environment in which the genes were selected.

    [p.305] ...the potentates of a hereditary caste society realized that no good could come from a scholar nosing around in records of the past where he might stumble upon evidence undermining their claims to have descended from heroes and gods... None of the caste societies had developed a tradition of writing accurate depictions of the past; instead of history they had myth and legend.

    [p.385] If I can’t eat with you, I can’t become your friend. Food taboos often prohibit a favorite food of a neighboring tribe; that is true, for example, of many of the Jewish dietary laws. That suggests that they are weapons to keep potential defectors in... But since the elders have no desire for the community to see the taboos in this light, they cloak them in talmudic sophistry and bafflegab.

    [p.390] ...people are happy when they feel better off than their neighbors, unhappy when they feel worse off.

    [p.392] There are twice as many negative emotions as positive ones, and losses are more keenly felt than equivalent gains... There are many ways to become infinitely worse off and not many ways to become vastly better off. That makes prospective losses more worthy of attention than gains...

    [p.398] ...males in general are wasteful to te group when they make up half of it, because a few studs could sire the next generation without eating half the food.

    [p.401] Genes are not puppetmasters; they acted as the recipe for making the brain and body and then they got out of the way. They live in a parallel universe, scattered among bodies, with their own agendas.

    [p.406] Of course, the genes are metaphorically selfish in endowing people with beneficent emotions but who cares about the moral worth of deoxyribonucleic acid?

    [p.413] many societies an irresistible thirst for vengeance is one’s only protection against deadly raids... Honor and vengeance are raised to godly virtues in societies that lie beyond the reach of law enforcement...

    [p.418] Marriage laws work a bit like leases, but our ancestors had to find some way to commit themselves before the laws existed. How can you be sure that a prospective partner won’t leave the minute it is rational to do so – say, when a 10-out-of-10 moves in next door? One answer is, don’t accept a partner who wanted you for rational reasons to begin with; look for a partner who is committed to staying with you because you are you. Committed by what? Committed by an emotion. An emotion that the person did not decide to have, and so cannot decide not to have. An emotion that was not triggered by your objective mate-value and so will not ve alienated by someone with greater mate-value. An emotion that is guaranteed not to be a sham because it has physiological costs like tachycardia, insomnia, and anorexia. An emotion like romantic love.

    [p.421] ... the conscious mind sometimes hides the truth from itself the better to hide it from others. But the truth is useful, so it should be registered somewhere in the mind, walled off from the parts that interact with other people.

    [p.448] Much of the variation in personality - about fifty percent - has genetic causes... The biggest influence that parents have on their children is at the moment of conception... No one knows where the other forty-five percent of the variation comes from.

    [p.462] ... sex is a defense against parasites and pathogens.

    [p.475] A call girl asks her friend why her handsome tricks have to pay for sex. “They’re not paying you for the sex,” the friend explains. “They’re paying you to go away afterwards.”

    [p.496] Men are known by their fellows as “the sort who can be pushed around” and “the sort who won’t take any shit,” as people whose word means action or people who are full of hot air as guys whose girlfriends you can chat up with impunity or guys you don’t want to mess with... Effective deterrence is a matter of convincing our rivals that any attempt to advance their interests at out expense will lead to such severe penalties that the competitive gambit will end up a net loss which should never have been undertaken.

    [p.507] Many frustrated borrowers have learned that a bank wşll lend exactky as much money as you can prove you don’t need.

    [p.509] ... the comfortable environment that makes us physically more secure may make us emotionally less secure, because it minimizes the crises that tell us who our real friends are.

    [p.525] Given that the mind is a product of natural selection, it should not have a miraculous ability to commune with all truths; it should have a mere ability to solve problems that are sufficiently similar to the mundane survival challenges of our ancestors.

    [p.555] Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

    [p.558] When does a zygote acquire a self?

    Nart Bedin Atalay said...

    Güzelmiş. Lakin Searle'nin ve Penrose'nin görüşlerini bilimsel açıklama ve buluş pratiğine (aka falsibility) uymuyorlar diye eleştirdikten sonra, mesela [p.418] notundaki gibi duygunun kökenlerini yanlışlanamayacak bir açıklamaya bağlamak bilmiyorum ne kadar bilimsel. Bilimsellik silahına sarılıp alternatif teorileri çürütmeye kalkmak yanlıştır çünkü her zihin teorisi bilimsel olmayan (metafizik) argümanlar barındırır.

    Samil Korkmaz said...

    Anladığım kadarı ile Pinker abimizin Penrose'un fikirleri hakkındaki temel eleştirisi yanlışlanabilirlikten çok Penrose'un mevut açıklamaların çoğunu reddetmek zorunda kalması ve reddettiği şeyin yerine doğru düzgün açıklama koyamaması. Bkz. [p.97] notu.

    Nart Bedin Atalay said...

    Ben de [p.97] notunu şöyle anlamıştım: Penrose'un problemi reddettiği bilimsel açıklamaların yerine bir başkasını koyamamasından öte, öne sürdüğü şeylerin bilimsel bilgi üretme pratiğine uymayacak şeyler olması. (so unconnected to ... scientific practice that they have been emprically sterile).

    Falsifibility bilimsel praktiğin "necessary" bir koşulu. "Necessary and sufficient" değil.

    O yüzden Pinker Penrose'nin yanlışlanabilirliğini eleştiriyor demek mantıklı olmaz. O konuya katılıyorum. Benim hatam yanlışlanabilirlik = bilimsellik varsayımında bulunmak olmuş.