L’intelligenza non esiste, esiste solo la furbizia

Reason: What Is It For? The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding by Dan Sperber, Hugo Mercier

Se ci chiedono a che serva la ragione abbiamo la risposta pronta…

… reason seems to have an obvious function: to help individuals achieve greater knowledge and make better decisions on their own…

Serve a conoscere.

Eppure, se questo fosse davvero il suo scopo, dovremmo concludere che non funziona molto bene, strano dopo millenni di evoluzione…

… but the upshot of experimental research on how we reason is that we do so in a way that is biased and lazy and that often fails to solve even simple but unfamiliar problems. It would be easy to stop here and simply conclude, as many psychologists have done, that human reason is just poorly designed…

Bisogna formulare ipotesi alternative.

Eccone una: la ragione serve a giustificare se stessi e a convincere gli altri

… In Chapters 7, 8, and 9, we have argued that reasons are commonly used in the pursuit of social interaction goals, in particular to justify oneself and to convince others….

***

Quando ci chiediamo “che funzione ha la ragione” dobbiamo intenderci sul concetto di funzione.

Prima di Darwin la parolina aveva un certo senso…

… Before Darwin, attributing a function to some trait of an animal or a plant involved little more than answering the question: What is it good for?…

La funzione di un organo corrispondeva con il suo impiego corretto: le gambe servono a camminare.

Dopo Darwin le cose cambiano, i concetti diventano più specifici…

… It was Darwin’s theory of natural selection that provided the basis for a coherent and useful notion of a function… Any inheritable trait of an organism has many effects. Most of these effects are without consequences for reproductive success. The scent of a flower, for instance, might make some local animals dizzy without this harming or benefiting the plant in any way. Some effects of a trait may happen to enhance reproductive success: the scent of a flower may attract insects and recruit them as pollinators. Still other effects of a trait may actually compromise reproductive success: a scent might attract florivores and entice them to eat the flower… When overall the effects of a heritable trait are more beneficial than harmful to the reproductive success of its carriers, then this trait is likely to be selected and to propagate over generations…

Sopravvivenza e riproduzione sono il fine ultimo di ogni organismo e i suoi tratti (ragione compresa) vengono selezionati dalla natura a questo fine.

La funzione predarwiniana della ragione – da tutti data per scontata – è revocata in dubbio in attesa di conferme empiriche…

… Reason is a means for individuals to acquire superior knowledge and to make better decisions. Reason, by performing this intellectual function, elevates humans above all other animals…

***

In realtà la differenza tra Aristotele e le prime congetture di Darwin non è così radicale…

… The functional effects of reason are roughly the same for Darwin as they were for Aristotle. What is new with Darwin, however, is the use of these effects to explain why reason should have evolved. And because Darwin is making a more precise claim about the function of reason, his claim is more open to a scientific challenge. If reason evolved to help individuals think on their own, then it should really provide for truly better thinking in terms of both cognitive benefits and mental costs, and if it does not, as much of modern psychology of reasoning suggests is the case, then we are indeed faced with a serious problem. Psychologists who discovered what looked to them like major flaws of human reason must have, you would think, understood and discussed the challenge this presented for a post-Darwinian understanding of the function of reason…

Senonché, Darwin offre ragioni più specifiche circa le funzioni ipotizzate della ragione, e quindi testabili scientificamente.

Ebbene, la psicologia contemporanea – dopo la scoperta dei molti bias cognitivi che affliggono la nostra mente – sembra aver confutata il primo Darwin, quello che ricalcava Aristotele…

… If anything, psychologists saw flaws in reasoning as evidence against an evolutionary approach…

***

Leda Cosmides e John Tooby scrissero in merito a questo problema un articolo seminale: “Has Natural Selection Shaped How Humans Reason?”

La loro prima considerazione: un’intelligenza generale ha poco senso.

In un mondo darwininano i problemi sono specifici cosicché l’uomo avrebbe dovuto sviluppare facoltà specifiche per risolverli…

… From an evolutionary point of view, she argued, one should expect reasoning mechanisms to have evolved as responses to specific problems that had been recurrent in the ancestral environment. Specialized adaptations do a much better job of addressing the problems they evolved to handle than would any general problem-solving ability. In fact, it is not even clear what an ability to solve problems in general might consist of (if not, precisely, of a complex articulation of a great many more specialized mechanisms). A general reasoning ability, if such a thing could evolve at all, might, at best, help in dealing with the residue of problems not properly handled by specialized mechanisms….

Seconda considerazione: il problema fondamentale per l’uomo è “come cooperare con gli altri?”. Intelligenza e capacità di cooperare devono essere intimamente legate. L’intelligenza è fondamentalmente l’abilità di scovare gli opportunisti (free rider) che ostacolano la cooperazione…

… among the many cognitive adaptations most likely to have evolved, there had to be an inferential mechanism aimed at solving a major problem raised by cooperation. Cooperation is an interaction between two or more individuals where each incurs a cost and receives a benefit. Each member of a party of big game hunters, for instance, spends time and takes risks to help the group catch a prey. Provided that the benefits are greater than the costs and are shared fairly, cooperation is advantageous to all cooperators. However, in many cases, each cooperator stands to gain even more by sharing in the benefits of cooperation without paying the full cost, in other terms by cheating or free riding. Hunters who avoid taking risks but take the same share of the meat as others are at an advantage. Of course, if none of the hunters take risks, the prey will escape. Widespread free riding is likely to result in failure of cooperation…

Il compito specifico della ragione…

… an evolved ability to detect cheaters

La ragione non serve allora a “risolvere problemi” ma a risolvere un problema specifico: quello dell’opportunismo che mina la cooperazione sociale.

La ragione è un modulo specifico della nostra mente…

… Like Cosmides and Tooby, we expect an evolved mind to consist principally in an articulation of modular mechanisms. Modules are specialized…

In altri termini: l’intelligenza non esiste

… contrary to a long-held dogma of philosophy and psychology, there is no such thing as reasoning in general…

***

Ecco una teoria della mente che spiega l’illusione che esista una intelligenza generale…

… Reasoning, we have argued, is produced by a metarepresentational module, the specific domain of which is the relationship between reasons and the conclusions they support. These reasons and conclusions, however, can themselves be about any topics…. we agree that natural selection has shaped how humans draw all kinds of inferences and has produced a wide variety of specialized inferential modules. One of these, we add, is a reason module. The justifications and the arguments that the reason module produces may have, embedded in them, conclusions relevant to all domains of knowledge and action. This virtual domain-generality does not, however, make reason, and the organization of human mind generally, any less modular…

***

Il grande scontro sulle facoltà cognitive: intellettualisti (la ragione serve a conoscere) contro interazionisti (la ragione serve a convivere)…

… We have rejected the intellectualist view that reason evolved to help individuals draw better inferences, acquire greater knowledge, and make better decisions. We favor an interactionist approach to reason. Reason, we will argue, evolved as a response to problems encountered in social interaction rather than in solitary thinking…

Pensate al pensatore

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Ecco, questo è il prototipo di un’immagine insensata: la ragione non serve a starsene da soli, la ragione serve per interagire, per giustificarsi e convincere gli altri.

Le due funzioni della ragione…

… Reason fulfills two main functions. One function helps solve a major problem of coordination by producing justifications. The other function helps solve a major problem of communication by producing arguments…

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