Thinking is a group activity

Maybe I’m being rash here, but isn’t it basically a truism that -as social animals- everything humans do is always social one way or the other?
I guess one can make the point that people generally overestimate how much they know. But at the same time, yeah, some people just happen to know craptonnes more stuff then others.

So then, what groundbreaking inside will the book offer me?

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Good point. There have been unfortunate times in history when society at large rejected new information and sound ideas. The groups that benefitted were small until more people were willing to learn.

Some things lose value when shared with a group, too - like tips/trends in markets, games of chance, secret recipes, or trade secrets. In the latter case, people may benefit from the result of another’s experience, but details of the experience are only available to a few. In situations where the secrets are never revealed or lost, those benefits may be limited to a period in time.

It’s not. It’s pretty clear the authors aren’t suggesting that multiple homo sapiens literally form a gestalt consciousness, but rather than the ideas originating from a single homo sapiens don’t occur in a vacuum, but are influenced by the observable actions of other homo sapiens. I was essentially just accusing them of deliberately being imprecise with their terminology to make this idea sound more unique than it is.

Again, you mean this to say a homo sapiens consists of multiple entities working in conjunction to produce thought. The authors, if you read their description, are talking about homo sapiens being influenced by other, physically external, homo sapiens. What they’re talking about, and what you’re talking about are completely different things. Part of why I was nitpicking their vague use of the word “thought.”[quote=“popobawa4u, post:20, topic:103136”]

Especially in terms of this topic, starting from the presumption that we both know and agree what a conscious agent is, is literally a homunculus argument.

No, a homunculus argument is when you assume that a product of cognition is assumed by a smaller conscious entity. Assuming a common definition is not the same thing. When you assume a common definition, it’s because you don’t want to talk about things at a basic level, and would like to assume something, for the time being, and move on from there. In this case, an “individual” clearly means, from context, a single homo sapiens. If that homo sapiens is comprised of multiple smaller parts isn’t relevant. To use your example, one may wish to talk about a river without describing each individual current inside it. Are the currents worth discussing? Maybe. But they don’t have to be part of every single discussion about the river. It’s also worthwhile to go with the general trend of the water flow and use that, for more macro scale discussions.[quote=“popobawa4u, post:20, topic:103136”]
That reduces ambiguity, but isn’t accurate enough to provide a model which can be audited for clarity.

Right. The authors of the interview and book quoted here aren’t trying to provide a model of cognition to be audited. That’s a completely separate topic. They didn’t offer a definition for “individual” in advance, but their definition is clear from context, and is also the common one, so it’s fairly easy to have a discussion on that level and know what everyone means, even if you don’t personally happen to like that particular definition.

(Feel free to disregard my comments if you find this line of reasoning uninteresting or irrelevant)

Yes, those are some of the examples I touched upon. But no, those were only micro examples of how the boundaries of organism are continuously being re-negotiated. Knowing of the book, and having read the article, I think these are not separate areas at all. As they say:

Thinking isn’t done by individuals; it is done by communities.

Which I agree with on several levels. What people call a person is itself a community. This is the micro level of the same phenomenon occurring on the macro level. Not unlike zooming into a fractal image, it is an informational seed where any decision as to what is inside or outside, self or other, is arbitrary.

I agree. That’s also what I was saying, although perhaps from a different direction than what you meant by it.[quote=“Mankoi, post:23, topic:103136”]
No, a homunculus argument is when you assume that a product of cognition is assumed by a smaller conscious entity. Assuming a common definition is not the same thing.

They aren’t usually, but I think that the classic Western common-sense mind-body duality of selfhood happens to actually be such a homunculus. A black-box of sense, memory, and cogitation which is neatly encapsulated in a “personality” which rides around in one’s head, happens to parse senses and happens to have thoughts. An emergent abstraction which we can choose to identify with, no different than hearing wind through the trees and deciding that this is the voice of some god. People relate to phenomena despite the delusory aspects of doing so because it is easy, and this process starts with believing in and relating to our own existence as an “individual”…

It does not have anything to do with what I do or don’t like, it’s more that it seems too simplistic and in deference to evidence to actually exist as anything apart from a vague notion. What I am saying is that this is how I interpret the significance of what the authors are saying, my guess is that they assume this common definition for simplicity’s sake, in order to engage the attention of readers (many of whom might defensively chafe against being reminded that their personality is a construct) - and that they are most likely aware that there is a lack of consensus regarding the applicability of the common-sense notion of individuality within the discipline of cognitive science.

@Mindysan33 told me about this book a few weeks back, and I am still trying to source a copy to read.

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I was going to say that’s what poetry does, but storytelling in general works even better


I wonder - does this also apply to cat-lovers and dog-lovers? If so, I may be alone, but I’ll never starve!


“Hive mind” was the first phrase to pop into my mind after seeing the headline of this article.
Who else thought that?

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Creativity is NOT a communal activity. It occurs in the individual, just like thinking. Some of the building blocks come from outside, but all the labor of making something new from those building blocks occurs within a single brain.

Sounds like someone hasn’t done a creative collab with someone before.

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