Thursday, November 24, 2011


*In the pragmatic way of thinking in terms of conceivable practical implications, every thing has a purpose, and its purpose is the first thing that we should try to note about it.*
Charles Sanders Peirce

Saturday, November 12, 2011


The "survival" strategy of the universe's energetic system is to learn of and anticipate the "known" and concurrently expect the "unknown."
Thus organisms with conscious connections to their surroundings learn to anticipate events and consequentially come to trust the accuracy of the anticipated.  And to distrust those signals that have not been to the same extent expected.  And the signalers learn in turn to make signals conform to their competitive and predatory needs, and thus these "deceptive" actions (as the more abstract thinkers have come to call it), have arisen and continue to fuel the evolutionary advancement of all purposive strategies.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And So?

Perhaps the elemental "truth" of the cosmos is that any energetic system with the most minimal strategic purpose will learn to self-organize its operation; and that somewhere there has always been a form of strategically motivated energy.
All such organizing will thus be in turn strategic and all strategies by necessity manipulative, and in that sense competitive with all other potentially intervening strategies.  What we then have come to see as strategic cooperation will have been the result of competition at some more basic level of these strategies' mutual existence.
So that we, as evolved strategic entities, can now cooperate to compete, somewhat as our cosmological forbears had much earlier competed to cooperate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


All forms of our universe's nature are by the logic of its "laws" anticipating an answer to the "what comes next" question (i.e., a matter forming the basis of a problem requiring resolution). Evolving preparations for dealing more safely with prospective answers will have sequentially become their strategic purpose. Finding ways to better "ask" that central question becomes purposive as well.
Initial on-off optional systems develop safer sub-optional strategies. Which, trial and error wise, concurrently redevelop the forms that can more reasonably apply them.
Which (still the "big question" exactly how and when) allowed the arising of the simplest self-calculated questions and independently usable responses, that then developed individually separate yet inevitably cooperative strategies for discovering better questions, and better "living" forms from which to functionally ask them.

(And it may be that the universe has virtually always had symbolic pattern based strategies prepared to be adjusted and acted on self-sufficiently when opportunities required it, or circumstances were best suited to such processes.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Why not?

Serving a biological purpose means, in effect, serving an intelligent purpose, if, as I believe, all biological functions were self engineered intelligently in anticipation of attending properly to expected problems.

And chances seem quite good that all systems functioning in the universe were self-engineered, even though more by reactive than pro-active choice, to nevertheless have, and thus serve, an intelligent purpose.
Which may be why so many are confused as to the use of the word purpose, since service of a purpose still implies a purpose somewhere behind the service. And we're taught that, outside of man and beasts at least, the universe has no purpose for its actions. But it seems to me our inferential feelings are correct after all, and that service of a purpose is always for an intelligently acquired and required reason.

Friday, May 6, 2011

More Reasonable Purposes

Conceptual versus Factual Premises

A lot's being written now with titles such as "Why do humans reason?" and "Arguments
for an argumentative theory." Interesting but as usual no-one is looking at our system's deeper evolutionary purpose. The points they are missing in a nutshell are these:

Our predictive systems are using probabilistic logic in one sense, but not necessarily as in Bayesian or other factual premise driven systems. Because what we in our subconscious processing are looking for are familiar patterns, and we assess them not so much for consequences of expected behaviors but for past purposes that those patterns must (from historical assessments) represent.
The problem then becomes one of how those predicted or predictive purposes might help us to anticipate the tactical natures of apposing learned or inherited strategies.
The probabilities depend on the perceived purposes, hence the premises involved are not so much factual as conceptual.
The concept of conceivable purposes.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Service of My Purposes

When Something Serves a Purpose

If to be a "something" is to have a place in the scheme of things (once we've assumed there are schemata to be had), then the consistency with which that something may take its place will signify that being in such a place predictively amounts to at least one purpose (if not the greater purpose) that this something serves., i.e., its schematic need to take that time and place in nature.

Purposes to which these somethings are put?    Not necessarily.
Found to fit?    More likely.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Could Non-Reason Ever Serve a Purpose?

The universe by virtue of its apparent lawfulness is reasonable - the most probable consequences of its interactions are logically predictable. And yet a strictly determinative universe would have no need for logic or predictability.

Why? Because it seems a system with unregulated cause and effect would be more than just chaotic - there would arguably be no movement at all in a non-regulated and thus non-purposive universe.

Why not?    No 'compelling' reason.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From 'Is' to 'Could' to 'If and Why we Should'

On deriving 'Ought' from 'Is' effectively (from Hume's problem of induction).
And, as we shall see, on 'purpose.'

Baron P said...
Science cannot say what 'ought' to be with anything like precision, but what it can do is predictively determine, from what more accurately 'is,' the more likely parameters as to what 'could' be. The jump from could to should or ought will then be up for grabs. 
It has always seemed to me that Hume saw 'is or isn't' as somehow equivalent to 'can or can't' and had left the choice of 'could' out of the game plan - and thus saw the jump from is to ought as an essentially bad move. Presenting us with a form of "you can't get there from here" paradox.
February 16, 2011 4:25 PM

Baron P said...
Massimo, you wrote:
 "But no amount of 'could' can possibly determine your values or the logic of your moral reasoning."

Logic is eliminative as well as determinative (and I'm not talking about eliminative materialism which is inherently illogical).

 'Could' is a probability assessment - an attempt to sort out the less probable - to go from could to couldn't or vice versa. We all make those assessments and I don't see how we could survive to, in the end, be moral agents without having made them. I suspect there'd be no science without the necessity to improve the quality of that process. Has our science then brought us to the philosophical point or level where we no longer need to turn to it for improvement?

 (This is not an argument in support of Harris' thesis - just one that if he felt he could have made, he must not have felt he ought to.)
February 16, 2011 6:08 PM

Baron P said...
Bayesian confirmation involves eliminative induction, no?* Choices are 'restricted' to their seemingly more proper places in the range of possibilities. Science, which has helped in that endeavor in the past, might by that measure be asked in future to help alleviate or lighten those restrictions, as we all seem to agree could well be needed. Our logical processes are anticipatory, and we move from is to could to why we should accordingly. I expect/anticipate that science will be a major player in how and why we make our moves.
February 16, 2011 6:44 PM

These excerpts from blog commentary re Hume's problem of induction didn't sit too well with the blog owner (who poo-pooed eliminative logic in particular) or with its coterie of the usual suspects - liberals of the status quo is the best way I know to describe them. A new idea to them is the fine tuning of some last surviving old one. And worse, they are encouraged to have the narrowest view possible of purpose.
So I've happily removed mine from the blog. They'll have neither me nor Nixon to kick around s'more. (OK so I've posted since - nobody's perfect.)

But here's what I would like to have left them with:
Science is a method we developed for a purpose, which was and is to perfect the use of our predictive faculties, our forms of logic. How we could move from 'is' to where we 'ought' to move with a better understanding of why we felt the need to; the need from which we derive/acquire our purposes, which create in turn the need to examine and perfect them. How should we act to achieve those purposes if in factual terms we could.
And the 'how' can't be accomplished as separate from 'why' - 'why' depends on all of the above in combination. There is no linear progression from is to ought, just as there is no purely linear causation in the universe. Our brain, as our science tells us, is a parallel processor - and of what, if not each aspect of our logic.

So that you can get there from here. Life forms have done so successfully for millennia.
And their strategic methodology has given purpose to that which we call science.

*Also see this reference re eliminative induction: