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Re: Re: Re: would appreciate a rejoinder

Posted By: Alistair Chew on August 24, 2015
 
Dear Angus,

Thanks for your prompt and illuminating reply. It made me have a long think, at the end of which this emerged:

1) I think that humans learn to do things just as tools or software can learn to do things. That's the reductionist view, and I apply it to things like my bunions and how they slowly make my feet behave differently in response to the environment.

2) I also think that at a greater remove, when I say, "I am learning" or even "I am thinking", nobody has any idea who this 'I' is. I don't. I just assume I'm doing something like painting a picture or assembling a jigsaw or sculpting in clay. I can think of myself as a machine or a forest, an ocean current or a crystal of salt organising its neighbours into formation. That -I- can think of -myself- is a miracle of its own.

3) Lastly, yes, but they are all metaphors. My early training was in computing and chemistry; I came late to the teaching of literature and history. It has struck me that humans are at their best when juxtaposing nominally different disciplines in unexpected, serendipitous, and delightful ways. Construction can be mechanical, but also organic; evolution can be procedural or random—or each evolution can be the gyring of a greater wheel.

I have to thank you for cutting loose with such an interesting topic of discussion. I sat in a room until the sun set, and wondered if I had indeed learnt anything.

Warm regards,
Alistair
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 would appreciate a rejoinder by Angus Mcmurtry on August 18, 2015
 
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